History of the Gardens

The Communiversity Gardens were started as a collaborative effort between Northern Illinois University and DeKalb County Community Gardens (DCCG). DCCG is an innovative approach to end food insecurity in DeKalb County by providing access to fresh, local, sustainably-grown organic vegetables for all who may be in need. As of 2021, the non-profit organization manages over 15 acres of land at 57 garden sites, as well as 200 raised beds! DCCG has produced over 175,000 pounds of food, which has been donated to local food pantries, daycare centers, schools, community meal locations, senior citizen centers and housing units, and Meals and Wheels.

The Communiversity Gardens strongly believe in DCCG’s message and outlook. The gracious partnership allows the Gardens to continually serve NIU and DeKalb County residents with local, fresh produce, as well as education and volunteer opportunities. Our garden locations, which are partially overseen by DCCG, include the Annie Glidden Heritage Garden, Huskie Service Scholars Garden, Native Plant Garden, and Sandra Streed Communiversity Garden. 

The late Sandra Streed joined forces with DCCG to create the Communiversity Gardens on NIU’s campus. Sandra was not only a senior research associate for the NIU Center for Governmental Studies (CGS), but also an advocate for sustainable food practices. She was dedicated to creating easier access to fresh produce for individuals, regardless of income. With the help of Dan Kenney from DCCG, she further developed ways to provide access to local, fresh foods on the Northern Illinois University campus. Thanks to her hard work, the Communiversity Gardens broke ground on May 8, 2014.

Today, the Gardens are continually evolving and thriving under the care of students, faculty, staff, and community member volunteer efforts. The Communiversity Gardens are currently co-managed by Melissa Burlingame and Christine Lagattolla. Interns, apprentices, and students are also keys to keep the Gardens growing.

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