Boys ' Girls Club Community Garden

Project Overview

Project Type: Youth Educator
Funds awarded in 2016: $2,000.00
Projected End Date: 01/15/2018
Grant Recipient: Grow Springfield
Region: North Central
State: Illinois
Project Manager:
Alana Reynolds
Grow Springfield (Illinois Stewardship Alliance)

Annual Reports


  • Vegetables: beans, beets, broccoli, carrots, eggplant, garlic, greens (leafy), peppers, radishes (culinary), tomatoes
  • Additional Plants: herbs, ornamentals


  • Education and Training: youth education

    Proposal abstract:

    Detailed Project Plan and Timeline

    The current abandoned garden plot will be sheet mulched and youth will learn about a natural method of weed suppression and way to improve soil quality. Students will be educated about the environmental benefits of re- using materials that are already in circulation as they personally build 5 raised garden beds using upcyled wood from untreated pallets. Students will fill the garden beds with a mixture of chemical free, quality compost and topsoil. The students will plant the garden beds with heirloom and organic seeds and transplants while learning about non-GMO vs. GMO products. All available bed space will be intensively planted to discourage weed emergence and demonstrate plant spacing. Students will learn about the advantages of companion planting for natural pest control, improved performance of plants and improved flavor of produce. Crops will be rotated to maintain soil health and prevent disease. A multi-bin compost system will also be built using upcycled, untreated wooden pallets. Students will lower the amount of food waste leaving the facility and reduce the amount of methane gas being generated at a landfill. Students will learn to add the proper materials in the correct amounts in order to have a quality finished product. This product can be used to amend raised beds and eliminate the need for future compost purchases for the garden. Students will be visited by successful farmers Chad Wallace and Garrick Veenstra. Chad and Garrick will talk about their sustainable farming practices, business models, and quality of life. Lindsay Record and Molly Gleason, from the Illinois Stewardship Alliance, will visit students and talk about careers in the non-profit sector that supports farmers like Chad and Garrick. Students will research the market value of produce grown in the Boys and Girls Club garden and estimate how much money could be made if the produce was sold for a profit. They will learn to develop a business plan and how to market their products. Students will be visited by Whitney Ajie and educated on the role fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs play in maintaining a healthy body. Students will also learn about a career in food nutrition. Catrina Williams will visit and provide simple recipes that youth can use to incorporate seasonal garden produce into daily meals. She will talk about careers in the food service sector and how to make a living cooking food. Students will survey the land and receive instruction on how to select a second potential garden site on the property. Students will be responsible for collecting and preparing a soil sample to be sent to a local lab for testing. Once the test results are received, students will learn to read the results and take steps to prepare the ground for planting. Woody Woodruff, Conservation Specialist with the Illinois Stewardship Alliance, will visit and educate students about the importance of cover crops for soil health. He will teach students about different cover crops available, when they should be planted and at what time they should be incorporated back into the soil. He will assist students in selecting cover crops for the Boys and Girls Club Garden site and using hands on curriculum, Mr. Woodruff will show students proper planting techniques and allow them to participate in the process.

    PROJECT TIMELINE: APRIL 2016-MARCH 2017 April 19-21 Garden build and planting, Karen Hine visit May 10-12, 17-19 Curriculum/Programming, Garden maintenance, Whitney Ajie visit June 7-9, 14-16, 21-23, 28-30 Curriculum/Programming, Garden maintenance; U of I Master Gardener visit, Field Day for educators, Illinois Times visit July 5-7, 12-14, 19-21, 26-28 Curriculum/Programming, Garden maintenance, Roots to Rooftop Tour, State Journal Register visit August 2-4, 9-11 Curriculum/Programming, Garden maintenance, Radio station live remote September 6-8, 13-15, 20-22, 27-29 Curriculum/Programming, Garden maintenance, visit from Catrina Williams, Farmland documentary October 4-6, 11-13, 18-20, 25-27 Curriculum/Programming, Garden maintenance, Soil testing for future site, visit from Woody Woodruff November 1-3, 8-10, 15-17 Curriculum/Programming, Garden clean up, low tunnel construction, Fall gardening, visit from Chad Wallace December 6-8, 13-15, 20-22 Curriculum/Programming, Low tunnel gardening Jan 3-5, 10-12, 17-19, 24-26 Curriculum/Programming, Forks over Knives documentary, Low tunnel gardening, Garrick Veenstra visit February 7-9, 14-16, 21-23, 28 Curriculum/Programming, Dirt documentary, FedUp documentary, Karen Hine visit, Jennifer Fishburn visit March 7-9, 14-16, 21-23, 28-30 Curriculum/Programming, Garden preparation, ISA visit

    Resources Used

    Youth will be taught using the following curricula: Junior Master Gardener Teacher/Leader Guide by Texas AgriLife Extension, Fresh From the Farm (Sow and Grow, Roots and Fruits, and Linking Plants and Food) by Seven Generations Ahead, Square Foot Gardening with Kids by Mel Bartholomew, Nourish by WorldLink. The following documentaries will be shown and discussed: Fed Up, Forks Over Knives, Dirt, and Farmland. Grow Springfield Garden Coordinator and Project Coordinator, Alana Reynolds, will collaborate with the following individuals and organizations to provide training and demonstrations, assist with lessons and promote the project: Mia Woods, Director of Program Operations for the Boys and Girls Club of Central Illinois, Non-Profit Educators George Sinclair and Catrina Williams from Project Southtown, Karen Hine, Chapter Leader of Slow Food Springfield, Woody Woodruff, Conservation Associate with Illinois Stewardship Alliance, Lindsay Record, Program Director of Illinois Stewardship Alliance, Molly Gleason Outreach Coordinator at Illinois Stewardship Alliance, Farmer Chad Wallace with Oak Tree Organics, Marnie Record, Workforce Specialist at Lincoln Land Community College, University of Illinois Extension Educator Whitney Ajie (Illinois Nutrition Education Programs), and Farmer Garrick Veenstra with Veenstra's Vegetables.


    Students will have the opportunity to document their experiences through the use of a digital camera and GoPro video camera provided by the Project Coordinator. George Sinclair, Project Southtown, will assist with editing. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts will be created by Mia Woods, Director of Program Operations, and edited photos and videos will be posted to keep the community engaged in the progress of the program. Videos and photos will also be shared with School District 186 media pages. The site will be listed in the directory of gardens on the Grow Springfield website. Youth participants will be encouraged to write short articles for submission to local papers, the State Journal Register and Illinois Times. The local papers and news channel will be contacted and invited to cover the story of the garden. Local radio stations will be invited to provide music and host live remotes. The garden will be a featured stop on the 2016 Roots to Rooftop Tour; an area gardens tour organized by Grow Springfield that is attended by approximately 100 people. A half-day, field day for school educators on "Success of School Gardens" will be organized and promoted. Also, educators will be invited to schedule class field trips to the garden so students can experience the outdoors and learn from other youth. Any curricula used in garden will be shared with educators and general members of the public. The students will grow a crop of food to be used by Slow Food Springfield at a local dinner event. Posters and video will be made to feature the students who grew the crop and document the planting, maintenance and harvest of the crop.

    Student and Community Impact

    This garden will provide the community with greater access to fresh, nutrient rich produce and expose people to food production from seed to plate. Students will consume more seasonal produce and try new recipes. This project will help students better understand that the nutrients found in the garden can also found in every human body. Students will learn how to grow their own food from seed. Students will spend more time outdoors and receive more exercise. Students will learn to collaborate as a group and execute plans with the assistance of others. A head count will be taken at all sessions and events. Students involved in the project will be given surveys before the program begins and after the program ends. Sample questions may include, but will not be limited to: Have you ever planted vegetable seeds? Can you name 10 nutrients found in the human body? How many fresh vegetables do you consume per week? Fresh herbs? What kinds? How many meals per week do you prepare at home? How many times per month do you perform work outdoors? Can you name five beneficial insects?

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Engage students in creating and managing a sustainable, organic community garden that grows a variety of vegetables, herbs and flowers using curricula and hands-on projects.
    2. Provide students and the community with greater access to fresh, nutrient rich produce and expose people to food production from seed to plate.
    3. Extend impact of program to a wider audience through social media posts, articles in local newspapers, a field day for educators, public garden tours, and more.
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.