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posted: 4/24/2011 2:00 AM

Community garden to help fill food pantry shelves

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As part of Earth Week 2011, students, staff and parents at Westfield Community School, 2100 Sleepy Hollow Road, Algonquin, will unveil a community vegetable garden to benefit the Lake in the Hills-Algonquin Food Pantry. Weather permitting, the community is invited to a garden dedication ceremony at 1 p.m. on Thursday, April 28, when students will plant vegetables into the ground that they have nurtured indoors over the past few weeks.

Other Earth Week activities at Westfield will include:

• Student Interactive Stations: There will be more than 30 interactive stations on topics such as oil spills, digging for coal, alternative energy, recycling, upcycling, and more. It will be held from 8:45 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. Monday, April 25, through Friday, April 29, and 6 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 28, in the multipurpose room, room 115 and room 102.

• The Environmental Show: Third-graders will perform an environment-themed musical. The public is welcome to attend the musical at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 28.

Led by teacher Michelle Soland, the garden project was developed as Westfield parents, teachers, village leaders, business owners, and community members collaborated on a project that would achieve these goals: connect students to their environment; raise nutrition awareness; help students learn how food is grown; and make them aware of hunger issues in their own community.

The garden will be maintained completely organically. No chemical pesticides or fertilizers will be used on the garden.

Four 4- by 8-foot raised beds are being installed in the garden. Each elementary school grade at Westfield is being assigned the responsibility for a particular bed. The younger grades will team up with older grades. The middle school will be involved by keeping care of the garden on a volunteer basis.

While many of the vegetables will not be ready to harvest until after school is out in late May, Westfield is looking for service groups and scouting groups to help care for the garden over the summer.

"We are hoping that by actively participating in growing food literally in their own backyard, Westfield students will learn the benefits of fresh food and the satisfaction of giving back to their community," said Assistant Principal Angela Reincke.

Time, labor and materials for the garden have been donated or discounted by the following: Michelle Soland, third-grade teacher; Teles Landscaping with Teles Contrares, head custodian; Bernardi Landscape with parent Nancy Zettler; Platt Hill Nursery; Home Depot on Randall Road in Algonquin; Home State Bank; and Algonquin Garden Club.

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