Local gardeners digging in at community garden
By Bob Okon firstname.lastname@example.org May 19, 2013 7:20PM
Crest Hill resident Therese Stellato (below) plants marigolds around one of her two plots at the Joliet Park District Community Garden Thursday, May 16, 2013, in Joliet. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 21, 2013 6:19AM
Leonard Winters talked about how his wife, Lisa, makes juice and “beautiful salads” out of the vegetables he grows at the Joliet Park District’s Organic Community Garden.
Nearby, the Gibson family from Shorewood were tending their plot at the community garden on McDonough Street.
“It’s right on the way home from work, so it’s convenient,” said Matt Gibson.
On yet another plot, the newly formed Joliet West High School Gardening Club had completed a map of their garden and was turning the plan into reality by putting their first plants into the ground.
“I have a vegetable garden at home,” said sophomore Rebecca Greskoviak. “We’ve always done it with my mom. She’s adamant about it.”
Gardening here is different though.
“You can interact with the community,” Greskoviak said.
The community garden is in its second year.
Meeting people and learning from each other is definitely one of the nicest things about the community garden, said Therese Stellato, who has gardened there both years.
“You learn so much,” Stellato said.
Stellato talked about “the beekeeper,” “the kale freak,” and the South African native who digs trenches in her garden with a pickax.
“I’ve learned more in a year there then in all the years that I’ve gardened,” Stellato said. “It’s a good way to meet people. There are so many people who hang out there. I just go out there and water. But there are people who hang out there all day. There are all kinds of characters. They all have a lot of things to pass on. They’re always sharing.”
Therese Gibson said her family shares their garden plots with three other families. When one family is on vacation, the others can tend and water their garden. Bringing more kids to a garden outing helps, too, she said, “because it keeps them entertained.”
On this Gibson family outing, Katie, 11, and Jimmy, 5, appeared to be very helpful in the garden.
As for meeting people, Ed Kolenc, a Joliet Central High School graduate from the Class of ’68, said he’s run into a couple of high school classmates at the community garden, and, “This is the first time I’ve seen them in awhile.”
“The atmosphere is good here,” Winters said. “You meet a lot of people. I like to come out here just to clear my head.”
It’s not too late to get a plot at the community garden, said Kristen Bernier, garden coordinator for the Joliet Park District.
And, there’s plenty of room with fewer than 200 plots taken.
“We have room for about 800,” Bernier said.
For being in its second year, the community garden in Joliet is showing pretty good use, compared with other community gardens the park district has looked at, Bernier said.
“It has beat all of our expectations,” she said.
Garden plots come in two sizes. Ten-by-10 foot plots cost $25. Ten-by-20 foot plots cost $50. Plots are $37.50 and $75 for non-residents.
A water spigot is available. Gardeners can connect hoses to the spigots. There are field trips for the gardeners. And, the park district has classes in organic gardening.
The garden is located next to the River Valley Justice Center, where parking is available, and across McDonough Street from the Inwood Golf Center.
More information is available on the park district web site, www.jolietpark.org. Applications for garden plots are available online or at the Inwood Athletic Club, 3000 W. Jefferson St.