It started in 2009. The Naperville Community Nursing and Rehab Center allows me to garden on their empty plot of land. I presented my idea of a flower/vegetable garden and the owner was thrilled. They let me free farm their unused land. They have about an acre of pasture. I grow everything possible on this small plot. Each year I plow up another 2 feet and I’m hoping to increase again.
This project is done by me. I had help with the initial till and the installation of the fence but I manage everything else without any outside help. The home provides me with the land, water from a nozzle 200 feet away and use of the storage shed for hoses, shovels and supplies.
I do not take profits from the Market sales we have with extra harvest. The residents use the money for local trips.
The joy I receive when I can share some good food with them is worth it. There is a wild black berry patch on the property and one year I made Black Berry Cobbler. It’s is a simple dish but when one of the residents reached for her third piece, the orderly stopped her but she said “But it’s the best I’ve ever eaten”. It brought tears to my eyes. Over the holidays I make pumpkin and squash pie from those grown. I am not allowed to incorporate the harvest into their diets but we can have "Tastings". On the days I present, the cafeteria is now almost full as they wait for me. At first, it was only a dozen. I feel they need to eat fresh once in awhile.
I treasure their wisdom and welcome their comments when I am out weeding/watering the plot. Most of the residents are physically unable to work but they will sit while I work and share stories with me. I learned dried blood keeps the rabbits away and if I pinch back the basil before it seeds, the plant will last longer. These bits of advice are priceless.
Once I have the farm, I will bus every one of the residents to the first “Farm Dinner”. They would love it.
The funds for wheelchair accessible and more flowers for beauty
Funded by Chicago, IL (December 2013)