Antioch community garden to grow larger
By Diana Kuyper Special to The News-Sun February 1, 2013 6:44PM
The site of Antioch’s community garden, which borders Depot Street, Orchard Street and Main Street . | Thomas Delany Jr.~Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 3, 2013 2:00AM
Antioch will expand its community garden to a maximum size of 46 plots, with more than half of them already committed to returning gardeners.
“We more than doubled in size from the first year,” said garden coordinator Melonnie Hartl, who spearheaded the project three years ago as a member of the village environmental commission.” We expect to fill up this year, and I am not sure if there is any room for more plots. We may have to look for larger piece of property.”
Letters were sent out this week to returning gardeners asking if they want to reserve a 10-by-20-foot space in the garden located at Depot and Orchard Streets, just east of Main Street on village-owned property.
“Returning gardeners get first choice on reserving a plot and must respond by Feb. 5,” said Hartl. After Feb. 5, remaining plots open up to village residents until March 1. Any remaining plots may be reserved by Antioch Township residents after March 1.
A reservation fee of $25 for a plot gives a gardener a 10-by-20-foot space with water available on site. “We also bring in really nice reclaimed soil. It is full of nutrients. Otherwise, gardeners need to provide their own tools, seeds and labor,” said Hartl. Composting may also be available as several composting bins and apparatus have been donated to the garden.
A certified master gardener and avid home gardener for 30 years, Hartl is pleasantly surprised by the garden’s success after only two seasons. “Even with such a challenging gardening season year last year, we donated close to 500 pounds of produce to Open Arms Mission Food Pantry.”
As part of their contract for a plot, gardeners are asked to donate their excess produce to the food pantry that serves Antioch and Lake Villa Township residents. Last year, cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, lettuce, herbs, eggplant, peppers, carrots and radishes were gathered, delivered and distributed to the food pantry throughout the summer and early fall.
Hartl said the purpose of the garden is to experience gardening and bring the community together. “It is also a social outlet for residents who share a common interest. I have lived in the area all my life, but through this gardening experience, I have met many folks I otherwise would have never met.”
At the end of the season last year, gardeners participated in a pot luck lunch, with everyone contributing dishes prepared with their produce.” We had a nice time getting together and talking to each other. We also participated in Antioch Garden Club’s garden walk, which showcased a lot of different gardens and techniques.”
As more residents are exposed to the community garden, Hartl hopes to develop an outdoor meeting space at the garden site and become an information center about gardening and gardening techniques like composting.
“It has been exciting. It has gone as well as I expected, but what was beyond my expectation is the community spirit and support that has developed in only two gardening seasons,” said Hartl. “So far we have earned nothing but praise and received all positive feedback from participants.”
For more information about next year’s garden and to reserve a space, contact Hartl at (847) 395-6963 or village hall, (847) 395-1000. Residents may pick up an application at village hall, 874 Main St.