Rockford Community Gardens

Community Gardens a source of healthy satisfaction

July 23, 2015 // 0 Comments

by BETH ALTENA Ted Williams called it a “great mental enema.” Susan McMaster went on facebook and asked for bunny poop. No matter what your take on gardening, there is no doubt it adds a source of satisfaction and accomplishment to anyone’s life. A stroll through the Rockford Community Garden, in its ? year, shows a little bit of over commitment—some plots are in need of an hour or two of weeding—but a lot of hands-on care. The result is a bounty that can last clear through a long winter in some cases. Ted and his friend Fred talked about taking a plot in the gardens a couple of years back. Now they grow eight here in downtown Rockford and more at the East Rockford Community Garden plots, which Ted says are underutilized, unlike the Rockford gardens. McMaster, who talked about the gardens at 3:15 p.m. on Friday, July 3, had been at work weeding and tending since 8 a.m. And, it isn’t even her plot, she is helping out a friend. She said she loves looking over the progress of the many plots and see who is doing what to help their garden thrive. Her secret recipe is bunny poop, which she said gives the plants in her plot an extra zing. In early July, she said the cool-weather plants are wrapping up. People have been enjoying harvests of lettuce, beet greens, bib lettuce and kale all spring and early summer. The spinach is about done for the season, but can be planted again in November and harvested in October. She offered a bag of fresh greens and suggested treating the kale salad to the following care. Rub with olive oil, wiping the white finish from the undersides of the leaves. This removes the bitter taste the plant sometimes has. Sprinkle with salt and lemon juice and drizzle with maple syrup. This dressing will endear kale and other veggies to even the most particular eater and they will beg for more. Be sure you rub every leaf with love or the success won’t be so evident. Bitter greens are not necessarily bad, either however, McMaster explained. She said a healthy and varied diet includes bitter, sweet, salty and pungent ingredients. Growing your own garden […]

REF awards grants totaling more than $36,000

October 27, 2011 // 0 Comments

A total of 51 grants supporting educational opportunities from choral composition to composting were approved by the Rockford Education Foundation (REF) during its fall grant sessions. The grants, given to Rockford schools and organizations, totaled more than $36,000. Some of the more innovative grants included support for creation of an original choral work by sophomore girls choir students and a renowned composer, and a River Valley Academy program that will teach science principles and provide compost for the Rockford Community Gardens. “Once again we were impressed by the passion and dedication of our teachers and others who are creating innovative learning opportunities in our schools and community,” said Theresa Webb, REF trustee and chair of the Grants Committee. Since its founding in 1991, REF has awarded more than $942,000 in grants to teachers, schools and community organizations. The REF raises funds throughout the year to award grants each October and January. The REF was established to provide resources for increased educational opportunities for people of all ages in the Rockford community. The REF is an independent, nonprofit corporation, governed by a volunteer board of trustees from the community. Teachers, students and community members with innovative ideas have received grants for wide-ranging, educational purposes. Grants are awarded twice yearly based on the merit of the request and its ability to promote educational excellence. For more information, visit

Rockford is a community of “green thumbs”

September 29, 2011 // 0 Comments

by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL Whether it’s purchasing and consuming healthy and just harvested local farm produce at Rockford’s award-winning Saturday morning Farmers Market or planting and tending your own garden in one of two Rockford Community Gardens, this has been a banner year. Rockford’s Farm Market was named America’s Favorite Farm Market in an online contest and Rockford Public Schools two Community Gardens have been a huge success in their inaugural year. Rockford is a diverse community of people interested in wellness, nutrition, the environment, stewardship, and civic responsibility, not to mention “Green Thumbs”. Seeking to further their mission of stimulating the love of gardening, The Rockford Garden Club recently received permission from Lisa Jacobs, Executive Director Rockford Schools Community Services, to undertake a project to beautify the west gated entrance to the Community Garden located directly behind the Rockford Administration Building on Main Street. Garden Club President Kathy Healy tells us the Club will initially beautify two 11’ x 8’ sections on either side of the main entrance to the Garden. In future years, the Garden Club members plan on adding to, and extending, the beautified area outside the fenced perimeter of the Garden. “We think a beautiful eye-popping perimeter will add to the outdoor learning laboratory consisting of 39 raised planting beds within the fenced perimeter of the garden,” Healy said. Preliminary work on this project began Monday evening, September 19, when the two sections of ground were rototilled in preparation for the planting stage to follow. Some plants and shrubs will be placed this fall with the remainder to follow next spring. Plantings will include seasonally colorful and flowering shrubs, perennials, and possibly annuals for additional pizazz. Some of the plantings will be native to Michigan. Some, if not most, of the plants will come from the club members own gardens and others will be purchased locally. “All costs associated with the project will be underwritten by The Rockford Garden Club,” said Healy, adding, “We do this to encourage home and community beautification, to promote better horticultural practices, and to encourage all forms of conservation.” Organized in 1924, The Rockford Garden Club currently boasts 50+ members. Their work over the years has been in evidence throughout the greater Rockford community. The […]