What is the Prairie Patch?
The Prairie Patch is a community garden project at Indian Prairie Public Library which was started through a partnership with Good Worx Inc. in 2016.
The Prairie Patch benefits the community in three major ways:
- It builds community. It brings people together and creates connection and a sense of belonging.
- It provides kids and teens with an outdoor, hands-on classroom where they can play while learning natural science concepts and basic STEM skills.
- It feeds people. The Prairie Patch is meeting a basic need for fresh food for local families in need.
We're nourishing our neighbors; we're providing fun, educational experiences; and we're creating community.
What is the history of the Prairie Patch?
In 2016, we installed 20 “patches,” or raised beds, at the library. The first summer, the garden was maintained through our Garden Buddies classes and by volunteers from Good Worx. The Garden Buddies met twice a week throughout the summer. Kids in grades 1-6 were paired up with teen volunteers, and together they watered and cared for the garden and learned about photosynthesis, the water cycle, composting with worms, and more. Families were able to pick up fresh produce from Good Worx or from the local food pantries that Good Worx delivers to.
In 2017, we expanded the garden from 20 beds to 40 beds. We also expanded our programming at the library. The Garden Buddies class became our Garden Lab, and we have kids and teens working and learning in the garden every week. They dissect seeds, test soil for various minerals, measure and chart growth, and so much more.
Now, families who receive food from the patch are able to grow their own food in reserved beds at the library. They get to choose what they want to eat and they maintain their own spaces. Others who are not able to make it to the library are still able to receive food that is grown in the Prairie Patch.
We have also expanded our composting program. There is now a compost bin in the library's staff break room to collect food scraps. Volunteers can bring their own compostable materials to the garden. We mix it all up in our Envirocycle composter so that we can make our own soil.
Whenever possible, as weather allows, the garden is watered using the rain barrel system that was installed by the Eagle Scouts of Boy Scout Troop 101 in Darien.
What do you do with the food grown in the Prairie Patch?
All of the food grown in the Prairie Patch is given to families in our community who have been identified as food insecure – families who struggle to find enough food or who don’t know where their next meal will come from.
What is Good Worx Inc?
Good Worx was founded in 2014 by Cynthia McGann and Mary Beth Owano. They created the Sunny Patch Project, Darien’s first community garden project, to raise awareness about local food insecurity. The Sunny Patch is located at the Safety Village in Darien. For more information, visit www.goodworxinc.org.
How can I help?
You can sign up to volunteer in the garden by contacting Natalie Williams or Cynthia McGann:
Head of Youth Services at Indian Prairie Public Library
(630) 887-8760 x262
Executive Director of Good Worx Inc.