When we were approached by IPPL about their programming theme for the year, Better Together, we felt it was a natural fit. After all, we've spent nearly 12 years working to engage our community in a variety of service initiatives, mostly local in nature but all encompassing what it means to come together to serve others outside ourselves.
If you take time to navigate around our site here you'll get a feel for the type of work we like to do. A click on the Worx Folio showcases just some of the work we've managed to do here in our community over the past decade.
Our focus, since 2014, has been on the troubling food gaps in our community, yes Darien!
Not just Darien but our neighboring communities are seeing troubling trends in families struggling to access food on a regular basis. We started a community conversation at the end of 2014 about food insecurity. There are various descriptions of food insecurity but the USDA describes food insecurity as, households having difficulty at some time to provide enough food for all their members due to a lack of resources. Many of our neighbors are having to choose between paying their rent and utilities or having enough left to cover the cost of groceries at the end of the month.
We know our local food pantries are seeing increases in the number of families relying on their services - most of our local resources are adding additional days to their distribution calendars to try and help address the problem.
This is a question we don't shy away from and one we typically consider a unique challenge. We do the same each and every time we're presented with an opportunity to help but we always consider how we might have the greatest impact.
We work to see that anyone who chooses to volunteer and get involved with us understands we're a bit more "hands on" than most when it comes time to assisting others.
So did someone mention Hands On? Last May we decided that we could start a small community garden patch as a way to get people in our community talking about food and specifically access to garden fresh food choices. To learn more about our Sunny Patch Project, click on the tab in the menu to the left.
We worked with select families last summer who had been identified by district social workers. We gave these families the opportunity to have access to their own garden patches and worked with them to plant vegetables that they would find of most use in their households. We grew hundreds of plants and worked with these same families and countless community volunteers to tend to these vegetables and insure that we had successful garden yields to share throughout the growing season.
We introduced many of these families to gardening for the first time and with the help of our Home Patch volunteers we were able to share over 400 pounds of garden fresh vegetables with some of our at-risk neighbors.
Our successes with our Sunny Patch Project our first season truly speaks to Better Together and how our community is choosing to address the issue of food insecurity and working in meaningful ways to see that our struggling neighbors are empowered and able to access and grow their own garden fresh foods!
So now, we're taking our Sunny Patch concept on the road - well, just down the street a bit. We'll be working with Indian Prairie Public Library this summer to install a small-ish Pop-up Garden Patch on their beautiful grounds. We're calling this our Prairie Patch!
This summer's programming will offer many exciting opportunities for families and children to get directly involved in helping us grow some much needed herbs and vegetables for our Sunny Patch Project to share with our families throughout the season.
We look forward to making many new friends at our Prairie Patch this summer!