Community garden club to host informational, sign-up session March 22

Published 4:30 pm Friday, March 18, 2022

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NILES — Spring has sprung and a local nonprofit is looking forward to bringing its green thumb out of hibernation.

Niles Community Gardens is preparing to host an information and sign-up session from 6 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 22 at the Niles District Library.

For more than a decade, Niles Community Gardens has allowed people in the greater Niles area the opportunity to produce their own vegetables and fruits by offering four different garden spaces, each open to anyone in the community.

For an income-based membership fee and a few hours of work each week, people join the planting activities in one of two gardens: Northside Garden, 2020 N. 5th St., and Westside Garden, 111 Spruce St.

“We don’t turn anyone away just because they may not be able to afford the fee,” said Community Gardens Director John Stevenson.

The annual fee allows the club to purchase necessary equipment and upkeep for each garden.

According to Stevenson, the Westside Garden is made up of individual plots members can reserve to manage themselves while the Northside Garden is a space where several members work together to grow and harvest fruits and vegetables.

Stevenson and his wife moved to Niles in 2012 and rediscovered his passion for gardening after joining NCG’s Northside Garden.

“It’s been a rewarding experience for me,” he said. “We plant a lot and harvest a lot. We decide what we eat during the summer and can, freeze and dry various vegetables. We still have some things we’re using from last year. They last quite a while and we enjoy the produce for a good part of the year. … There’s nothing like a fresh-grown tomato. It tastes better than what you would find at your typical store.”

According to Stevenson, excess produce is donated to the local Salvation Army and St. Mary’s Church, 219 S. State St.

The ability to work outside with others is something Stevenson and his fellow gardeners enjoy.

“It’s great to see things growing,” he said. “You’re always learning something because things don’t always work like they’re supposed to and you try different ways of approaching problems. You also get a good amount of exercise.”

Stevenson said NGC accommodates all levels of gardening experience, including beginners.

“We’re happy to teach,” he said. “People do not need previous experience.”

In addition to next week’s session, a second session will take place Saturday, April 16.