Our View: Niles Community Gardens will miss Van TilPublished 10:38am Thursday, April 4, 2013
Can Niles Community Gardens grow without Mark Van Til?
We certainly hope so. But there is no doubt he will be missed.
Van Til has decided to step down as director of the organization he helped create in the spring of 2010.
The idea for community gardens in Niles was just that — an idea — until Van Til volunteered to help the city launch it three years ago.
The project began with 14 volunteers, but quickly grew to more than 130 members.
There are several community gardens all over the city, including ones at Niles schools Ballard Elementary, Northside Child Development Center and Ring Lardner Middle School.
Thanks to the community gardens, residents can grow food for themselves, or others, on shared plots of land.
Niles Community Gardens even donates surplus produce to local food banks and pantries every year.
The community gardens in Niles have been so successful that the surrounding communities of Dowagiac and Cassopolis have been trying to grow their own using Niles as a model.
Niles Community Gardens even beat 15 other community gardens across the country for a national grant in the DeLoach Vineyards Community Gardens Contest last year.
Without Van Til’s drive, devotion and leadership, it is hard to say where Niles Community Gardens would be today — or if it would exist at all.
While countless others have helped make the gardens grow, there’s no denying Van Til planted the first and most important seed.
Let’s hope it can grow without him.
The views expressed in this editorial are those of the Niles Daily Star editorial board.