More families will have fresh produce on their kitchen tables thanks to the work of several students and a few Glen Ellyn-area agencies.
The Glen Ellyn Park District, the village's environmental commission and students from Elementary District 41 are working together to develop a sustainable garden in Village Green Park to provide fresh goods for clients at the Glen Ellyn Food Pantry.
Residents can learn more about the project and sign up to help out at an informational session at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 24, at the Lake Ellyn boathouse, 645 Lenox Road.
Park district Naturalist Renae Frigo said the land slated for the project was used for the same purpose before, but no one is currently gardening it.
"We want this to be a sustainable thing that happens every year," Frigo said.
The District 41 students lent a helping hand for the project as part of their Problem-Based Learning assignment. In PBLs, students work in groups to find solutions to real-world problems.
The students' work included looking into what plants should be grown in the garden, designing posters to advertise the initiative and developing online signup sheets for volunteers.
"The students have done a lot of research and background information that now the park district and the environmental commission is using to get this project rolling," Frigo said.
Besides providing fresh food for those in need, Frigo said the community garden also will help teach volunteers about gardening.
"I just think it's an opportunity to not only help out but teach people a little bit about growing your own food," she said.
Glen Ellyn Food Pantry Executive Director Susan Papierski said the giving garden will help the pantry because its supply of fresh produce is often quickly depleted. She said with more food, the pantry can serve more people.
"To get the fresh fruits and vegetables to our clients is just amazing," Papierski said. "That's our target ... to get as much fresh produce to our clients as possible."
The project, Papierski said, also will positively affect students.
"The students are the ones that are becoming aware of how they can help make this happen and they can help hunger on the bigger scale," she said. "That's what I think is also really great."
Hadley Junior High student Sofia Hadley worked on the project and said the PBL offers something a little more impactful than an everyday assignment.
"It's different from just like a research project or something because you're actually making a difference," Hadley said. "I think that's just really cool to have that opportunity to do something for your community."