DCCG’s Five Points Food Forest

12994292_1037448696304254_8449876844232480871_n[1]This is an aerial view of DCCG’s Five Points Food Forest. Hope you can attend our “Let’s Get Started Event” Sunday April 24, 9AM. Learn about perennial growing for food production. A partnership between DCCG and the DeKalb County Forest Preserve District.

Volunteer Spotlight – Michael Payne

February 2016

Volunteer Spotlight: Michael Payne


DeKalb County Community Gardens would like to take this volunteer spotlight to appreciate Michael Payne! He is a full time student, a leader at NIU campus, and a dedicated volunteer for DeKalb County Community gardens. Michael’s love for gardening started at a very young age and truly flourished when he got involved with the NIU Communiversity Gardens during the summer of 2014. He finds his work to be very rewarding.

“I love giving food from the garden, and seeing the [other] volunteers incredibly interested in the food” says Michael. He loves the idea that the work he does in the gardens helps peoples around him to eat. It is very rewarding when people come back and tell him how good the food was. Michael is a regular volunteer. While he originally did not have much gardening experience prior to his work in the NIU Communiversity Garden, he quickly picked up on the skills and knowledge and people started to look at him for guidance and leadership.

His favorite part about DeKalb County Community Garden is that there has been so much growth in such little time. “It is very cool to see members of the community help as much as they can”, says Michael. He realizes that you can come as you are when you volunteer for DCCG. Michael points out that there is a misconception that people have to be expert gardeners in order to help at the gardens, but it is definitely not the case. Anyone at any skill level is welcome to volunteer! It is wonderful to see when the new volunteers become regulars. He wants all current and future volunteers to know that their work in the garden actually makes a difference and it allows for more food to go on people’s plate who need it most. Even the work that does not have to directly deal with the produce such as weeding, tilling, and compost turning matters because it allows for the garden as a whole to be more successful.

One of the best memories he has even had in the garden was when a family came to volunteer. They were so appreciative that they could take as much produce as they wanted. He distinctly remembers digging up a carrot with their son, and seeing the expression on his face when he saw what a carrot looks like when it comes right out of the ground. In the gardens, memories are made, laughter is shared and people like Michael Payne make a difference, one carrot at a time.

Fun Facts-

Favorite quote-“spread your cool”

Desired super power- to be able to see through walls and practices his ability to be in multiple spots at once

-He is a full time student at NIU, graduating in May of 2016

-Michael has multiple jobs on NIU campus

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

Volunteer Spotlight – Carol Bushong

January 2016

Volunteer Spotlight: Carol Bushong


Our volunteers are valued and appreciated!  The January Volunteer Spotlight is Carol Bushong. Her passion for gardening and growing food as a resource started at a young age, as Carol grew up listening to family stories of her Irish ancestors starving during the Irish potato famine. Additionally, both sets of her grandparents lived through the Great Depression. Developing self-sufficiency through subsistence food production became incredibly important to them. As she lived with grandparents for an extended period of time, she essentially grew up in the gardens!

Carol retired from teaching in 2013 and stated taking horticulture classes at Kishwaukee College. She also volunteers once a week at Tails and at the front desk at Kishwaukee Hospital. Of course, as often as possible, she spends time hanging out with friends and family enjoying their company. Her hobby is participating in antique flea markets, which she has been doing for over 12 years. Her favorite markets are Oregon Women’s Club Show, Pecatonica, and Elkhorn Flea Market.

Even with her busy schedule, she still makes time for DeKalb County Community Gardens. Her favorite memory was at Little John Elementary. Bushong spoke to two little girls during a tomato and kale taste test session during the summer. During discussion, the girls advised what to plant for the next year, specifically they requested that she plant the “dino” and the “ruffled” kale next year. Most importantly, the kids seemed to have fun planting, watering and harvesting in the gardens.

Carol  loves the quote by Jimmy Carter, “ My faith demands that I do whatever I can, wherever I am, wherever I can, for as long as I can with whatever I have to try to make a difference”. She has a great spirit and feels that her volunteer experience has been rewarding. The fact that she is making an important difference for people in her community is the true motivation as a volunteer. Bushong says “This last summer was my best summer since I was a kid.” She spent almost all day every day outside working in one garden or another. She also feels that the people involved with DCCG are wonderful! “With DCCG, you do not have to be an experienced gardener to help, it is all about making time to help where and when you can help.”  For future volunteers, she suggests to get started and give it a try. There is never going to be a best time or enough time. You need to make time for what is important.

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

DCCG Hiring Lead Grower/ Community Educator

DeKalb County Community Gardens

Lead Grower and Community Educator

Job Description and Requirements

Location: DeKalb County Illinois. 60 miles west of Chicago.

Job Description: DeKalb County Community Gardens (DCCG) is an innovative County wide approach to end hunger and increase access to fresh food grown using organic methods. DCCG has over 45 sites spread throughout the County. This includes two or more sites of 2 acres or more. DCCG also works to increase access to fresh food by building gardens in backyards of homes, and neighborhood locations. Visit www.dekalbgardens.org to learn more about the organization.

DCCG is seeking a reliable, hands-on, experienced person to lead the tasks of a lead grower. The job will include the following tasks.

 Assist and oversee regular garden (field) related tasks of planting, weeding, harvesting, watering, soil amendments, and general maintenance of larger garden locations.
 Oversee a “caseload” of smaller school/ neighborhood gardens. The latter would involve coordination with the lead volunteers at the smaller gardens, and assisting where and when required.
 Hoop house operation, care, and maintenance.
 Orchard stewardship
 Train and direct volunteers, students, and seasonal interns as needed. This may include leading individuals and groups of many ages in contributing to the work of the gardens, this may include early evening work hours.
 Assist in coordination of gleaning local fields and orchards.
 Coordinate seed gathering and saving. Assist with seed ordering.
 Coordinate and oversee distribution of garden production to end-users, such as food pantries, community meal sites, farmer markets, and special events. This also may include harvesting and preparing the Box of Hope Program deliveries. (A CSA type program.)
 Manage composting; maintain garden infrastructure such as hoop house, raised garden beds, tool repair, etc.
 Plan and implement classes and workshops on sustainable home gardening, seed gathering, plant identification, etc.
 Assist in outreach planning, presentations to interested groups, and community capacity building.
 Organize and give regular tours of garden sites.
 Plan and organize special events involving garden activities, etc.
 Work closely with the DCCG executive director. Report to the executive director progress and problems related to the operation of the gardens. Provide guidance when required to assist the executive director with planning.
 Plan and assist with the construction of new gardens as may be required in backyards, and/or other community locations.
 Plan and conduct education programs about basic skills involved with raising food, harvesting, etc. Also be able to mentor someone as they learn gardening skills. Must be able to work in an educational capacity with people of all ages, and abilities, including individuals with special needs.
 May also be required to provide training and guidance to the farm manager at our Walnut Grove Vocational Farm location.
 Other duties that may be assigned

Qualifications and Compensation

Minimum Qualifications for this position:

 Experience working on an organic farm or community garden, from annual planting, care, harvesting to seed gathering and saving.
 Experience with managing the distribution and sale of vegetables and/or fruit.
 Experience with training and supervising workers in the gardens. (Volunteers, interns, staff, students, etc.)
 Knowledge of fruits, nuts, and other perennial plants. Preferably familiar with gardening methods that do not require tillage.
 Excellent communication and organizational skills.
 A strong work ethic and the ability to be self-directed and capable of working independently with minimal oversight.
 A flexible work schedule. During growing season, May 15 to October 15, capable of working 40 or more hours per week.
 Non-smoking while at garden sites.
 Must be able to pass a criminal background check.
 Must be able to lift 50 pounds and work under potentially difficult physical conditions.
 Must be dependable, organized, flexible, and have a sense of humor.
 Must have a valid drivers’ license and good driving record. Must also have own transportation to and from work.
 Must be personable and capable of working with all kinds of people of various ages and abilities; including children.
 Should be capable of basic “fix-it” skills, handy with an electric drill, various garden related hand tools, tiller operation, etc.

This is a 12 month position, with 40 hours a week for 40 weeks and 20 hours for 12 weeks. During the growing season, approximately March 19 to Dec 19, 40 hours a week, December 15 to March 15, 20 hours per week.

Yearly salar commensurate with experience.

Two weeks’ paid vacation, preferably taken during the winter, December 15 thru March 1st.

Six paid illness and/or personal days per calendar year.

$500 toward additional training opportunities.

$0.50 per mile when using own vehicle on the job.

Application Deadline: Open until filled. Hope to have positions filled by December 20, 2015.

Email resume and cover letter describing your interest in the position, and your experiences to: Dan Kenney, executive director of DCCG: dkenney@dekalbgardens.org
If you have questions call Mr. Kenney @ 815-793-0950

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

DCCG's Walnut Grove Vocational Farm greenhouse will be open Friday, and Saturday this weekend from 10am to 7pm, and on Sunday 12 to 5. And as a special this weekend all of the beautiful hanging baskets will be 25% off! Also pick up the rest of your bedding plants while they last. Hope to see you stop by! ... See MoreSee Less

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Start checking your strawberry patch! :) ... See MoreSee Less

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Outreach Garden ... See MoreSee Less

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Great work Tracy and everyone who helped with planting the Malta Elementary Gardens! ... See MoreSee Less

We took advantage of the beautiful day and tried to move all our planting dates to today due to the possible stormy weather this week. So we only have one bed left to plant! Hot fun long day!!

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A BIG Day for DCCG check out your choices for enjoying s beautiful spring day and supporting your community at the same time: 1) Join volunteers from Nestle's at our Dolce Vita / Kish Health Garden 2475 West Bethany behind Dolce Vita Hair Salon and Spa, 9-11 and 1-3; 2) Five Points food forest help map out the plan for perennial food, 9am; 3) Jefferson school garden build at 10 am; 4) Visit the DCCG Walnut Grove Vocational Farm booth at the Genoa Farmer's Market; 5) Walnut Grove Vocational Farm greenhouse open today 10am to 7pm, over 50 variety of tomato plants, many heirlooms, and a great selection of flowers left; 6) Girl Scouts will be preparing beds for planting at Lincoln School in DeKalb. 7) Valley West Hospital Wellness Staff garden will be working this morning as well. These are just some of the activities taking place in DCCG gardens on this perfect spring day. Join the fun. Take photos and share. Building community one garden at a time! ... See MoreSee Less

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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!

Click Here to Follow the DCCG on Facebook!

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!

DeKalb County Community Gardens © 2015

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