Open house for garden resource center in West Chicago

Just because it's cold outside doesn't mean it's too early to start thinking about gardening.

Healthy West Chicago, People Made Visible and The GardenWorks Project are sponsoring an open house from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Jan. 26 to introduce the community to the new Suburban Agricultural Resource Center in downtown West Chicago.

The center is inside the People Made Visible's cultural center at 103 W. Washington St. It is the first brick-and-mortar location for The GardenWorks Project, a nonprofit dedicated to providing families in need access to homegrown food.

"This is an awesome opportunity to learn about gardening and either help others or help yourself learn how to grow food in your own home," Healthy West Chicago Director Andi Cooper said. "There's been a real need for this, and the GardenWorks Project has stepped up to the plate."

Cooper said the center aligns nicely with one of Healthy West Chicago's goals: to improve availability of locally grown food in the city.

She said there will be a small fee for DuPage County residents to use the resources at the center, but people who already use a food pantry will have free access.

Thursday's open house will provide gardeners and families facing food insecurity with information about the agricultural resource center's offerings, which include a tool and garden book lending library, vegetable seeds, gardening classes and easily assembled kits for raised-bed gardening.

GardenWorks already has built more than 20 raised-bed gardens for West Chicago families. Cooper said her organization has set a goal to increase that number to 100 in the city.

"There's a lot to talk about, a lot to share with the community," she said, adding that details about a new grant program to encourage organizations to start community gardens also will be discussed at the open house.

Mayor Ruben Pineda will make remarks around 6:30 p.m., and light refreshments will be served. There is no fee to attend, but RSVP is encouraged at

Events at the center will include "How to Start a Community Garden" at 10 a.m. Feb. 11 and a seed-starting class at 7 p.m. Feb. 22.

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