It's still winter, but if you want to harvest tomatoes this summer from a Geneva Community Garden plot, sign up now. About 30 people already have.
"There is a buzz around the community," said Traci Wicks, the park district's marketing and public relations supervisor.
Registration for the 124 plots at Prairie Green Preserve is due March 1.
If more than 124 people sign up, lotteries will be held to determine who gets a plot. Park district residents get first crack, on March 15; anything left over will be distributed to nonresidents March 16.
The cost is $45 for residents and $60 for nonresidents.
Twelve of the plots will be set aside for organic gardening, meaning the renters agree not to use herbicides, fungicides or pesticides.
To help novice gardeners, the park district is offering two classes at the Persinger Recreation Center, 3507 Kaneville Road, Geneva.
The first, "Vegetable Gardening for First-Timers," is offered Feb. 23 and March 10. The cost is $10. A University of Illinois Extension educator will teach how to plan for the best production for the space a gardener has. The Geneva plots will be 20-by-30 feet.
"Composting ... Black Gold" will meet April 14. People will learn how to turn yard waste and food scraps into fertilizer. The class costs $12.
Most of the preserve is owned by the city of Geneva, which intends to eventually turn it over to the Kane County Forest Preserve District. The community garden is the first official public use of the land, which is on the west side of Peck Road south of Bricher Road.
Wetlands have been developed on part of the site, and some of it is rented to a farmer.
The city bought Prairie Green from 1998 to 2003, spending $10 million. Of its 573 acres, 40 are owned by the forest preserve district; that's where the plots are located, on former farmland.
The plots will be available mid-April to Oct. 31. There is a water spigot, but gardeners cannot uses hoses.
To reserve a plot, visit the front desks at the Geneva Community Center, 710 Western Ave., Geneva, or the Persinger Recreation Center.
For a copy of the rental agreement, and garden rules, visit genevaparks.org/community-garden.html. To sign up for the gardening and compost classes, visit genevaparks.org.