Geneva community garden plans growing, but slowly

  • The city of Geneva, the park district and the Kane County Forest Preserve District are working together to have a portion of the Prairie Green Preserve ready for community gardens in the spring of 2012.

      The city of Geneva, the park district and the Kane County Forest Preserve District are working together to have a portion of the Prairie Green Preserve ready for community gardens in the spring of 2012. RICK WEST | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 1/26/2011 12:12 PM

Progress is being made on bringing community garden plots to Geneva, but don't expect to plant green beans in one this year.

The city, park district and the Kane County Forest Preserve District are working on a plan to set them up at Prairie Green Preserve off Peck Road.

 

"We are still in the midst of negotiating agreements," said Dick Untch, the city's community development director.

The plots will be run by the park district, but still to be decided is whether the city or the forest district will own the land. The city and the forest district are negotiating ownership of the entire 573-acre preserve. Currently, the forest district owns about 40 acres, and the proposed garden plots would be on its land, close to Bricher Road. The city owns the rest of Prairie Green Preserve.

Even though the site was formerly a farm, establishing garden plots isn't as simple as just rototilling and letting gardeners have at it, according to Untch.

The site needs major grading to level it, water lines to feed hand pumps for watering plants, and a parking lot for gardeners, he said. Then there is the matter of setting up rules and regulations for running the plots.

The Geneva park board is hiring an engineering firm to start planning some of the work.

Untch said the goal of the three parties is to open it up for gardening in spring 2012.

by signing up you agree to our terms of service
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The city bought land for Prairie Green Preserve from 1998 to 2003, spending $10 million. The main goal was to keep it out of the hands of developers, during a time when houses were rapidly replacing farmland on the western edge of town.

Some of the land has been returned to wetland status, as the preserve is on top of a high-quality aquifer-recharging area.

The city hopes to sell wetland credits to land developers building in the Mill Creek watershed and use that money to add amenities such as a bike trail, the garden plots and a picnic area. It has yet to sell any credits, however.