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updated: 1/3/2012 6:35 PM

Elgin to expand community gardens with grants

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Winter isn't exactly the time of year when the average person thinks about gardening. But it certainly is on the minds of many in the city of Elgin as they figure out where to use money designated for community gardens.

Paul Bednar, park development coordinator, said a committee will be discussing possible sites for new gardens over the next couple months. The money the city recently received is the second installment of $10,000 from the Making Kane County Fit for Kids Consortium.

"We'll have the money available as soon as the weather breaks to start helping different gardens get going," Bednar said.

Elgin has 16 community gardens and, with the help of volunteers and the Elgin Community Garden Network, will continue to expand.

Highland Fellowship Church got its own $4,000 grant to add gardens to the church grounds.

Donna Askin of the Elgin Community Garden Network said the gardening initiatives have fit well into the mission of the Fit Kids 2020 Plan.

"The fit program emphasizes not only healthy eating but getting exercise, and gardening is perfect for that," Askin said. "It's a perfect combination of both."

Bednar expects one new garden will go across from the Boys and Girls Club, one near Feeding Greater Elgin and another on a piece of land on the west end of town. Any groups with ideas for other locations should contact Bednar at (847) 931-6788 or bednar_p@cityofelgin.org.

Besides the grants for gardening, the city also received $1,500 to help the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee put on a second Bike for Life event.

The Downtown Neighborhood Association got $3,500 to buy and maintain a machine that will allow people to pay with debit, credit and LINK cards at the Harvest Market. Cash will be accepted at individual vendors but those paying with cards will be able to pay at a centralized pay station starting next summer.

"We're expanding accessibility for all income brackets," said DNA Executive Director Tonya Hudson. "We're just taking away another barrier for people to be able to shop at the market."

The Village of South Elgin also received a grant -- $10,000 toward the creation of a fully accessible playground in SEBA Park on Water Street.

The park project as a whole will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, organizers say, but the county grant will help fulfill the village's portion. South Elgin Parks and Recreation Department FUNdation also received $60,000 for the playground in 2011 in a nationwide essay contest. The group continues to fundraise the remainder.

Total funding for the most recent grant awards from the consortium went to organizations across Kane County and totaled $68,438.

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