$20K grant for community gardens

DeKALB – A national organic food and seed company has taken notice of the work by DeKalb County Community Gardens and is rewarding it, too.

The group received one of two $20,000 grants from Seeds of Change by being involved in a national online voting contest in April. The final judging was conducted by a panel.

“We’re grateful for the support we got from the community,” said Dan Kenney, founder and executive director of organization. “This really was a community effort.”

According to a news release from the community gardens group, it was chosen from more than 600 applicants nationwide. Voting ran from April 1 to April 21, and the top 50 vote-getters moved to the final round of judging.

Judges looked for projects that helped educate others about where their food comes from and work to make a healthier and more sustainable community, the release states.

DeKalb County Community Gardens will use the money for its plans to start an orchard at the Annie Glidden Outreach Garden near the DeKalb County government complex on Annie Glidden Road in DeKalb and a food forest at Old State Route 64 and Five Points Road, west of Sycamore.

Officials will come up with an overall design for both locations and start planting fruit and nut trees, berry bushes and perennial crops such as asparagus by the end of this year, Kenney said. The planting process should be complete within three years, he said.

Kenney believes his organization was chosen partly because of the more than 60 community partnerships he has formed. The community gardens program has expanded to nearly 40 locations around the county. Last year, it raised more than 16,000 pounds of food for food pantries and others in need.

“We value what we’re trying to do with DeKalb County Community Gardens,” Kenney said. “We make it a true community effort.”

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