Communiversity Gardens and DCCG
The Communiversity Gardens were started as a collaborative effort between Northern Illinois University and the DeKalb County Community Gardens. Dan Kenney, Director of DeKalb Community Gardens shares his message about the partnerships, goals and contributions of this innovative project.
DeKalb County Community Gardens (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. DCCG manages over a combined total of 10 acres of growing space located in over forty different sites. In three growing seasons DCCG has produced nearly twenty tons of food, which was subsequently donated to local food pantries, day care centers, schools, community meal locations, senior citizen centers and housing units, as well as the Meals on Wheels program.
The organization has created working partnerships with neighborhoods, schools, non-profit organizations, municipalities, County government, park districts, forest preserve district, businesses, hospitals, family health centers, foundations, and churches. DCCG is also working with Kishwaukee Family YMCA, Kish Health Systems, and Live Healthy DeKalb County, as well as Northern Illinois University and Kishwaukee College; DCCG has over 70 partnerships and sponsors.
However, DeKalb County Community Gardens is not solely concerned with food production, we have also created the Garden Paths of Hope Program, with the goal to provide training, employment, outdoor experiences, and marketable skills for homeless individuals and those with special needs on a working farm, also known as Walnut Grove Farm. It is an exciting opportunity for the many people with special needs who do not have a chance to be outdoors and to have a meaningful way to engage in the community, to feel they are making a valuable contribution, the farm provides this pathway.
DCCG is a unique organization that brings together people who care about the environment, health and nutrition, education, economic development, and building stronger sustainable communities together in the gardens. The gardens are providing an alternative to the usual why of addressing hunger with emergency relief, instead DCCG is about providing access so everyone can be in control of their own food and reach a sustainable way to healthy food for themselves and their families.
-Dan Kenney, Director of DeKalb County Community Gardens