Saturday August 27th, from 9am to 1pm, the Walnut Grove Vocational Farm, a program of DeKalb County Community Gardens, will be holding its second annual Fall Open House. The farm located at 33600 Pearl Street, north of Kirkland, is the only farm and greenhouse operation in northern Illinois where individuals with special needs learn about agriculture and horticulture while raising vegetables, plants, and mums.
“When my son leaves high school, it will be like he fell off a cliff.” Said a mother whose son struggles with disabilities. Illinois ranks 49th in the nation when it comes to providing services for individuals with special needs. DeKalb County Community Gardens is attempting to address this lack of services with its Walnut Grove Vocational Farm training program. DCCG is partnering with DeKalb County high school transition programs to provide horticulture and agriculture training for individuals with a variety of handicaps. The goal is to provide them with skills that can lead to employment with area growers such as Midwest Ground Covers in Virgil, or other greenhouse operations. Also others will be able to eventually grow their own vegetables in their own gardens, which can lead to having their own small businesses. This is an innovative program that combines growing food for the food insecure, with training individuals with special needs.
On Saturday the 27th there will be tomato and garlic tastings, music provided by Kayla’s DJ service, operated by an individual who lives with special needs. Farm tours will be led at 10am and 11:30, All day there will be opportunities to buy mums, fountain grass, and flowering kale, as well as u-pick vegetables. Tours of the 10 Acre savannah prairie restoration project will be provided by Ron Cress, lead prairie steward. You will see the second greenhouse under construction, see the newly finished packing shed, see the pumpkin patch, and much more.
“It is inspiring to see how the farm is coming along. It has been a dream of mine ever since my son Scottie was born with downs syndrome.: Said Gene Heinsohn who owns the property where the farm is in operation.
DeKalb County Community Gardens is in its fifth growing season. In four short years it has increased from 11 garden sites, to over 50 garden sites all across DeKalb County. DCCG coordinates gardens at pre-schools, schools, senior living facilities, church, businesses, parks, low-income housing locations, and vacant lots. In its first four seasons DCCG has grown nearly 100,000 pounds of fresh, sustainably grown, food for people of the county who struggle with food insecurity. The gardens also offer an opportunity for individuals who are unemployed to grown their own food. DCCG offers mentoring to new gardeners, workshops, and health related fresh food learning experiences. Also classes in seed saving and composting.
“We invite any one to come out see our exceptional, locally grown mums, and enjoy fresh vegetables, and have fun on the farm.” Said Dan Kenney, Executive Director of DeKalb County Community Gardens.
For more information visit: www.dekalbgardens.org/walnutgrove, or call 815-793-0950.