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Sleepy Hollow gardeners giving back to community

Sleepy Hollow resident Barb Grows is renting plot this summer village's Giving Garden. She her children Isabell8 Robert 7 come

Sleepy Hollow resident Barb Grows is renting a plot this summer in the village's Giving Garden. She and her children Isabella, 8, and Robert, 7, come about twice a week to help tend it. | Erin Sauder~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: August 24, 2013 6:03AM

SLEEPY HOLLOW — How does the Sleepy Hollow Giving Garden grow?

With seeds, water, and many helping hands.

The Giving Garden project began in 2011 as an initiative to grow healthy produce for local food pantries. This spring, the garden — located behind village hall at 1 Thorobred Lane — was expanded to allow local residents to purchase plots for their own crops.

“The first two years, it was literally a quarter of the size that it is now,” said Pam Maxwell, who coordinates the project with her husband, Dennis.

Recently, the garden project landed a $2,200 grant through the Making Kane Fit For Kids program. The money is being used to further expand the community garden program.

Barb Grows of Sleepy Hollow is renting a garden plot this summer. She and her children — Isabella, 8, and Robert, 7 — come about twice a week to help tend it. The produce they’ve planted includes eggplant, broccoli, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, zucchini and cucumbers.

“I’m so happy because my children get to see where their food comes from,” Grows said. “We started in the spring, and my kids have gotten to see from the seeds to the broccoli what they’re eating. I think kids today don’t often see where things come from.”

She lauds the community garden as a win-win.

“I’m so happy the village did this,” she said. “I get fresh vegetables, and we’re able to give back to the food pantry. Plus, my children are learning to share.”

Isabella has enjoyed helping out.

“I like planting the vegetables,” she said.

Currently, about 12 families have plots in the garden. Participants are required to help out a few hours a month tending to the Giving Garden by watering, weeding and harvesting.

“We also encourage them that if they have more than they can use, they can throw it in with our Giving Garden delivery,” Maxwell said.

Most of the Giving Garden fare goes to the FISH (Friend I Shall Help) Food Pantry in Carpentersville.

On Friday, kids from the Dundee Township Park District day camp got to tour the garden and help plant seeds and weed the garden beds.

Maxwell hopes to continue getting kids in the community involved with the garden.

“I want to really integrate this gardening thing into the schools so that kids are involved in growing fresh vegetables and what they grow is used in the cafeterias,” she said.

Maxwell is excited that the community garden project has taken off.

“We started out as garden just to donate to the food pantry,” she said. “Then we decided that in order to get the community involved, we needed people who liked to garden. We already have people interested in taking plots next year. So we’re probably going to expand the rental plots more.”

Volunteers are always needed to help prep garden beds and prepare them for planting.

For more information, people can email or call 847-426-8972 or 847-426-8949.

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