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Batavia community garden taking shape
By Susan Sarkauskas | Daily Herald Staff

Meg Humphrey, garden chair of the Come Grow With Us Community Garden in Batavia, holds a cabbage plant at the ceremonial first planting at the garden on Saturday.


Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

Julie Kotalik of Batavia Enterprises, left, watches Colleen Calhoun, 3, of Batavia water cabbage plants with the help of Jennifer Echert at the ceremonial first planting of a Batavia community garden Saturday. Batavia Enterprises is donating the land for the gardening.


Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

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Published: 4/25/2010 12:06 AM

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There were no honorary, gold-painted shovels at the dedication ceremony for the Batavia "Come Grow With Us" community garden Saturday morning.

Instead, Mayor Jeff Schielke knelt down and dug in with a trowel, planting a cabbage seedling in a plot at Water and Main streets.

Schielke called the new garden "recycling of history ... It's bringing back a something that has been a grand tradition."

During the Depression, he explained, commercial greenhouses in Batavia also raised vegetables to give to the poor, and residents grew Victory gardens during World War I and II.

About three dozen people turned out for the ceremony Saturday and to work on the garden. The community plot is intended to educate people about ecologically sound gardening practices, encourage self-sufficiency, and raise food for the Batavia Interfaith Food Pantry, according to Jennifer Echert, the garden's logistics and education coordinator.

There also will be rental plots available for personal use, especially for those who don't have garden space at home.

"Getting our hands dirty in the soil is probably one of the healthiest things we can do together," said Echert.

Dignitaries included Stan Johnston, chairman of the pantry, who accepted a $1,450 donation from the Fox River Trail Runners club. "That's what generous support is. That's what happens here in Batavia," he said. The money was raised at the Fox and the Turkey race in November.

The nearly-acre site is being donated by Batavia Enterprises.

The effort is organized by volunteers from Batavia MainStreet, the Batavia Environmental Commission and Batavia Citizens for Clean Energy.

A gardening committee will have an information table at the Green Walk from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday throughout downtown Batavia. And one of the volunteers will sell home-raised tomato, pepper eggplant and herb seedlings to raise money for the garden.

The group welcomes help (especially rototilling now) and donations of plants and materials. It has a Facebook page, which you can find by typing in "Batavia community garden" on

To contact the committee, e-mail or call Echert at (630) 406-1110.