Volunteer Spotlight – Peter Schram and Tricia DeBoo

November 2015

DCCG Volunteer Spotlight: Tricia DeBoo and Peter Schram


Peter and Tricia started gardening 18 years ago when they bought their Sycamore property. Over the years, they expanded and now have created a continuous bloom. Having the skills and interests that would be of use to DCCG, they started to become regular volunteers. They believe that “no person should go hungry” and DCCG offers opportunities to address the issue on a local base. In their free time, they are busy with their real estate management business. Peter and Tricia’s favorite aspect of the organization are the genuine and generous people. The best advice that each of them shares is “each adversity is, in reality, an opportunity.” We truly appreciate the both of them for their presence and kindness. In Peter and Tricia’s experience as volunteers, they feel that “you get back so much more than you give.”

Peter Schram and Tricia DeBoo are two dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers of DCCG. From frequenting garage sales to find used gardening tools, to helping with operations at DCCG evens,  their commitment to DeKalb County Community Gardens is vital and we would like to sincerely thank you!

Volunteer Spotlight Prepared by: Gladys Sanchez, NIU Intern with DCCG

Volunteer Spotlight – Patty Ruback

Volunteer Spotlight: Patty Ruback


Patty Ruback grew up in Chicago, but spent lots of summers in Wisconsin surrounded by family members that had large gardens. In her youth, Patty had some form of garden at every house she resided in. Now, she focuses on building healthy soils through composting and rotational planting. Also, she is trying to learn to preserve the harvest better through freezing, canning, drying and fermenting. “Gardening is a “life- learning” project”, says Patty.

Aside from being a dedicated volunteer, Patty has founded the Eat Local DeKalb County to help connect local people to local sustainable produce. Eat Local DeKalb County has over 550 members. In addition, she co-founded DeKalb County Home Educators to connect homeschooling families in the area and they have a membership of over 40 families. Currently, she is working on a Panamanian snake with two other female, NIU alumni. Patty says “Most importantly, I am raising my daughter to be an awesome person and citizen, and teaching her how to follow her dreams”.

Her most memorable story as a volunteer is when she worked at the St. Paul’s Thrive Farmer Markets where people want local, organic, and sustainably grown produce to feed themselves and their families. She felt it was very rewarding to see people from all economic situations coming together at the market for the sole purpose of sharing in a healthy harvest.

DeKalb County Community Gardens is very fortunate to have Patty as a volunteer. Her favorite aspects about DCCG is the feelings of human connection and seeing how the different gardens produce variety of foods. Patty says “that people should pick from gardens, enjoy the produce especially since you have worked hard from keeping it alive”! For future volunteers, she says to be the change you want to see in the world. Volunteering also opens up so many opportunities and helps to build lots of relationships.

Patty Ruback- Thank you for being an awesome volunteer for DeKalb County Community Gardens.

Fun Facts

  • Loves roller skating and recently founded Chicks in Bowls, DeKalb
  • Traveled to Southern Africa 4 times
  • Her mantra: “ I do what I want”


Volunteer Spotlight Prepared by: Gladys Sanchez, NIU Intern with DCCG

Bread & Roses Concert Sunday November 15th to Benefit DCCG

Mark Your Calendars!

Don’t miss this opportunity to spend an enjoyable afternoon of wonderful music, positive community energy, and refreshments. The women’s chorus Bread & Roses will be holding their fall concert, this year entitled “Hopes of the Season.” They will also be joined by the barber shop chorus, The Kish-Wua-Keys!

Bread and Roses always provides a great concert. They offer a variety of songs, that stir you and delight you.

Following the concert their will be community time with treats provided by DeKalb County Community Gardens!

Hope to see you there. You will not want to miss this one! Postcard fall 15 (1)

Volunteer Spotlight – October 2015- Joel Maurer

Volunteer Spotlight: Joel Maurer


At DCCG we cannot thank our volunteers enough for the sense of community and service they provide. Often times we have a volunteer who goes above and beyond for DCCG and exemplifies the true spirit of service of volunteerism. Joel Maurer, a volunteer who lends his time and knowledge all over DeKalb County, is one of those people.

Living by the best piece of advice he has ever received “Show some kindness to others, work hard, and finish your tasks.” Joel not only volunteers at DCCG but with the Network of Nations, Medevac, and the Sycamore Food Pantry as a director. Joel says he naturally gravitated towards volunteering at DCCG due to the garden’s vicinity to his home. He puts in a lot of hours in the garden on NIU’s Campus, aptly titled the Communiversity Garden. From weeding, to laying mulch, to troubleshooting the water access, to helping harvest fresh produce for the food pantries of DeKalb, Joel says he has seen the mission of DCCG come to fruition.

Joel’s start in garden work came from a childhood of farm work. However, he says it is not necessary to have gardening skills if you want to volunteer at DCCG. To this day his favorite thing about DCCG is working in the soil and doing hands on team projects. He enjoys growing food, helping other volunteers and helping international students at NIU feel at home. When Joel is not helping someone in the community time he spends his personal running, biking, and singing in a Gospel Quartet. We just want to say: Thank you Joel, for all that you do, not only at DCCG, but for the entire DeKalb Community!

DeKalb County Community Gardens’ Local Flavors Harvest Benefit

Sunday September 20th, at 4pm and 6:30pm will be DCCG’s Annual Local Flavors Harvest benefit at Tapa La Luna!

A unique event that people who have attended in the past look forward to each year. Enjoy the beautiful and community atmosphere of Tapa La Luna. Enjoy the wonderful music of Craig Mathey. Enjoy a creative, original, and delicious meal orchestrated by the amazing Chef Chad. He will be using ingredients grown locally by DCCG and area farmers. It is always one of the most talked about evenings of the year! Don’t miss out, get your tickets today, because seating is limited. Thanks to the great work of Alex with the Egyptian and www.dekalbcountytickets.com, you can purchase your tickets on line this year! follow the link:



Thank you to our lead sponsors for this event: Ken Spears Construction, Kish Health Systems, Dawn Equipment, Lehan’s Drug Stores, and Hy-Vee. Also thank you to our lead partners this growing season: NB&T, DeKalb/Sycamore Chevrolet, Doug and Lynn Roberts Family Foundation, DeKalb County Community Foundation, DeKalb County Farm Bureau, and Live Healthy DeKalb County. Thank you to all who have helped in the gardens this growing season. It has been another bountiful season, and made even better by all of the fantastic community support! Together we are making a lasting difference in the lives of so many.

Look forward to seeing you on the 20th.




DCCG Mums Are Ready!

mumsinrowsSOLD OUT! Thank you everyone!! Remember us in the spring for your bedding plant needs! And remember Walnut Grove Vocational Farm! Plants, vegetables, mums, berries, and more!! Help others while you help yourself! Thank You!!The mums are ready! Get your locally grown mums, purple fountain grass, and flowering kale for fall from the DeKalb County Community Gardens (DCCG). The mums are beautiful and filled with buds. Get beautiful fall color for your home and yard, and support the building of the Walnut Grove Vocational Farm for individuals with special needs. Visit the DeKalb County Community Gardens website now to learn about all they are doing.

mumsonracksPrint off the Mum order form here and mail it in. It’s an easy way to help close the food gap in DeKalb County and support great farm experiences for individuals with special needs. Help to provide them with the training they need to live a fuller and more meaningful life.

Volunteer Spotlight: Tracy Coyle

Tracy 1

“The part that I love is that even though I am one person, the amount of impact that I have is great. With any great cause, even if you are only one person, your efforts matter.”

Tracy Coyle, Malta Elementary School Librarian, grew up with a grandmother who had a passion for gardening. “She had flowers and vegetables everywhere, along every fence line, around the house [and] under the trees. She would give me bunches of flowers each time I visited and I loved it,” Tracy says. Her grandmother’s green thumb would inspire Tracy to continue that love of the outdoors through photographing nature, camping with family, and gardening and volunteering with the DeKalb Community Gardens.

Tracy has contributed to the garden’s by being a point person of the Malta Elementary School Community Garden. She says her favorite part has always been the children, “I love sharing my knowledge with the students. They are so eager to learn and to help. They love every part about the gardens from the digging in the dirt, to planting and harvesting. Our kids at Malta are very much involved with our gardens.” In fact, the students work with Tracy year round to keep Malta Community Gardens thriving. “The 5th graders start our seeds, the rest of the classes plant all our beds, and our Malta families sign up to take care of the gardens once school is done for the summer.”

She is able to keep families involved in the gardens by engaging their children, and creating organized sign-up sheets for families during the summer season. Tracy sees this as an easy way to plan for the year and in the long run, save time. “I don’t feel like I spend too much time,” she says, “so a little work in the beginning, makes the summer awesome”. However, Tracy attributes her main success to the support of the Malta community including the Malta elementary School Principal, PTO, and families.

Thank-you for supporting the DeKalb Community Gardens with your hard work and organization Tracy! We would not be the same without you.

Fun Facts!

  • Tracy has photographed over 90 birds as of June 2015
  • Tracy is celebrating her 20th year at the Kishwaukee Family YMCA this August! Congratulations!

Tracy Selfie

Facebook Buzz

Hey everyone! We have one more indoor houseplant sale coming up! December 1 & 2, from 10-2 in Wirtz Hall. Please spread the word! If you're interested in volunteering to help out the gardens, even if it isn't by playing in the dirt, contact me at astratton1@niu.edu. Any time you're available will help! ... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

Hey everyone! We have one more indoor houseplant sale coming up! December 1 & 2, from 10-2 in Wirtz Hall. Please spread the word! If you're interested in volunteering to help out the gardens, even if it isn't by playing in the dirt, contact me at astratton1@niu.edu. Any time you're available will help! ... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

Attention all volunteers interested in helping out at Farmers Markets! We need y…

Attention all volunteers interested in helping out at Farmers Markets! We need your help! This Saturday is St. Paul’s Episcopal Church’s first Thrive Farmers Market from 11-2. If you’re interested in working the DCCG table, please e-mail Amy Stratton at astratton1@niu.edu! For more information on the Thrive Market, check out : http://www.thrivemarket.org/

Click Here to Follow the DCCG on Facebook!

Over 300 mums started at Walnut Grove Vocational Farm this weekend. Pre-order yo…

Over 300 mums started at Walnut Grove Vocational Farm this weekend. Pre-order your mums for the fall! Enjoy beautiful mums and support a initiative to provide outdoor agriculture experiences for individuals with special needs. Mums are $8.95 each or three for $25. We have lavender, yellow, gold, and pink. If you want to order yours send us a message via FB or through our website: www.dekalbgardens.org. A big thank you to Heather Edwards for her guidance and for being our greenhouse manager. Some of you may remember Heather from Ozzie’s greenhouse on Hinckley Road. Thank you Heather for helping the Walnut Grove Project. And thank you to all who order their locally raised mums this year from Walnut Grove!

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Join us for our regular workdays! Mayor's Garden (Franklin and 5th) on Wednesda…

Join us for our regular workdays!
Mayor’s Garden (Franklin and 5th) on Wednesdays from 4-6

Outreach/Community Orchard (2500 N Annie Glidden Rd.) on Thursdays from 4:30-6:30

NIU Communiversity Gardens (520 Garden Rd.) on Tuesdays 4-6, Thursdays 2-4 and Sundays 2-4

And for those NATIVE plant lovers: Join us Walnut Grove’s Prairie Creation project on Tuesdays from 9-12!

Click Here to Follow the DCCG on Facebook!

Hello. I (Nathan) am at Dolce Vita/Kish Health System Garden. I just need 2-3 pe…

Hello. I (Nathan) am at Dolce Vita/Kish Health System Garden. I just need 2-3 people to help me pick strawberries and peas. I’m going to pick for just over an hour, or until rain. No pressure. This is a short notice opportunity. I’m going to pick either way. If you feel like helping, you can take some home. The majority will be donated. Just 2-3 people at the most. Thank you.

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Great write up by Patty Ruback of the local food efforts here in DeKalb County!…

Great write up by Patty Ruback of the local food efforts here in DeKalb County! Local foods work is strong in DeKalb County and getting stronger!

Hyper-Local: The Good Food Scene in DeKalb, Illinois
Good Food on Every Table recently invited readers across the country to share their stories about the Good Food scene in their hometowns. We want to thank Patty Rubeck of DeKalb, Illinois — founder…

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