Help out your community with DeKalb County Community Gardens Food insecurity is a big problem in the United States, here's how you can help combat it with this local organization. by Marissa Wade February 5, 2024
Food insecurity in the United States is a problem. About 1 in 5 households in the Chicago area are food insecure. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, only 87.2% of households in the United States are food secure. That should be 100%. Even in our own community, it’s a problem, with 13% of DeKalb residents being food insecure.
But thankfully, since 2012, we have a local organization to help combat this national problem. Being in DeKalb, you obviously know we invented barbed wire, we host Cornfest, and we have the Egyptian Theater. Impressive, but another important feature we have to shine a light on in DeKalb is the DeKalb County Community Gardens.
DeKalb County Community Gardens’ mission is to empower people to access healthy and sustainably grown foods and address the root cause of hunger. They’ve produced over 200,000 pounds of food, used for schools, food pantries, daycare centers and more. In 2023, they served over 24,000 residents of DeKalb County and donated over 5,000 pounds of food.
The gardens provided by DeKalb County Community Gardens span all over the county and aren’t exclusive to DeKalb, with gardens in Sycamore and Cortland. DCCG is made up of multiple organizations and serves the community based on their needs like Grow Mobile, which delivers seeds to both rural and urban parts of the county, and Community Gardeners, which gives individuals who are homeless or low income and/or are developmentally disabled.
If you are interested in volunteering, get to know how you can help DCCG and utilize the services they provide for us.
87.2% of households in the United States are food secure.
DeKalb County Community Gardens offers rental gardens to those who don’t exactly have the best area for growing a garden, whether that be not having enough shade or space. There are plots available for rent at three gardens in DeKalb County. These are located at the Dresser, Sycamore, and Genoa Gardens. There are a variety of different plot sizes, depending on what your preference is. It’s only $20 for a year of renting a garden.
There is an application (both in English and Spanish) available on the DCCG website under “Where we grow” on the homepage. This is a simple application you can download in PDF form. Using these rental gardens, you can feel fulfilled that you are growing your own healthy food.
Volunteering for DCCG and my experience
Applying to volunteer for DCCG is actually a pretty easy process. On the homepage, under “join our mission” is “apply or volunteer”. There are multiple opportunities like volunteering for Grow Mobile, Walnut Grove Vocational Farm, Walnut Grove Prairie Restoration, and the option I volunteered for, which was volunteering to water community gardens for schools in the 428 district.
After hearing about it for a project in our Dual Credit Plant Science class, a friend and I volunteered to water the Cortland Elementary community garden over the summer. Besides the insane heat over the summer, it was a really fun experience and a good way to do good for your community and just do something while school was out for the summer.
In my experience watering the Cortland Elementary community garden, it was a pretty simple process of getting the water hose, walking a few yards, spraying the plants gently a couple of times and putting the hose back. The only thing I can really say I didn’t like about volunteering for DCCG is the heat, but that’s just summer in Illinois.
Those are two easy ways you can care for the environment and the people in your community. Come late spring, be sure to check out the opportunities that DCCG provides if you need something to do over the summer while at the same time helping your community. You can visit DeKalb County Community Gardens’ website at https://www.dekalbgardens.org/.