Last summer while he was
out, he came across something that spurred
a thought. He saw a vacant lot that had been turned into a
neighborhood garden. Neighbors were sharing the space, raising their
own fresh vegetables and perhaps becoming closer friends through
their common interest.
Lebegue said the thought crossed his mind then that there were
vacant lots in Lincoln that could be turned into community gardens.
With that idea as the backdrop, the group called From the Ground
Up set to work to turn Lebegue's idea into reality, and they have
been amazed with the results thus far.
On March 10 the group, led by Rachel Smith, Kathy Vinyard and
Lebegue, had a public information meeting where they formally
introduced their ideas about the gardens and started collecting
names of those who were willing to help in the planning and also of
those who wished to take a spot in one of two gardens.
At that time the group had two garden spots available, one at the
Logan County Housing Authority office at 1028 N. College and the
second at 417 N. Madison St.
This week Vinyard said the response to the gardens has been
tremendous and many of the spaces have already been spoken for, but
there are still some available on a first-come, first-served basis.
She noted that at the North College location, the housing
authority began with 15 garden plots and almost immediately had 16
would-be gardeners wanting them. Vinyard said that in answer to the
demand, Steve Allen at the housing authority has said he will expand
that garden area to help meet the demand.
In addition, the group has added a third garden location at 116
S. Logan St.
Vinyard said they are now looking at 30 144-square-foot plots at
the housing authority, most of which will measure 12 by 12 feet,
plus 10 to 12 plots on Madison and another 10 or so on South Logan.
For Lebegue, the response to the community gardens has been
doubly rewarding. First, he's pleased to see the idea take off so
well, but secondly, it is going to make his job easier this year and
perhaps even more so in the future.
As the building and safety officer, Lebegue is always concerned
about empty lots. They can quickly become overgrown with weeds and
also can become a dumping spot by uncaring neighbors, leaving them
cluttered with unsightly trash.
Because there will be gardens on the vacant lots on Madison and
South Logan, Lebegue knows those two spaces will be looked after,
and it will be two less spots he has to keep an eye on this summer.
And, his vision for the future is that next year there may be a
demand for even more garden space, using even more vacant lots
[to top of second column]
On April 30 the From the Ground Up group is going to host a
groundbreaking ceremony at the gardens on College Street, followed
by a gardening workshop in the community room at the housing
The groundbreaking will commence at 9 a.m., with presentations by
Connie Burgett of Connie's Country Greenhouse and Master Gardener
Steve Sparks following immediately thereafter.
Burgett is one of the owners of Connie's Country Greenhouse near
Latham. Connie's has been in business in Logan County for over 12
years and offers a tremendous variety of outdoor plants including
ornamentals and bedding vegetable plants.
Burgett will take the first 30 minutes of the workshop to discuss
Sparks is the founder of Sparks Soil Testing Lab in Lincoln and
is a certified Master Gardener in Logan County. His portion of the
workshop is expected to focus on vegetable gardening and soil
Also on hand for the morning will be a representative from
Illinois American Water. Vinyard said Illinois American has been
very supportive of the community gardens and has given generously to
Also, free garden seeds and plants will be given out to those who
have signed up for a plot.
For those who may be still thinking about taking a plot, Vinyard
suggests you come for the groundbreaking and workshops. Application
forms and garden guidelines will be available for those who may
decide to take that step.
Vinyard added that in case of inclement weather, the workshop
will still be presented. She added that From the Ground Up
appreciates the support of Allen at the Logan County Housing
Authority and the offer of the community room for the workshop.
[By NILA SMITH]
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