Green Re-entry Opportunities (GRO)Community Gardens
GRO currently has 4 community garden sites at Our Redeemer Lutheran and First Presbyterian Churches in Marion with Hurricane Baptist and Church of Christ in Herrin Illinois. GRO has implemented a method of organic gardening/farming called Square Foot Gardening building from recycled materials 51, 2’x8 raised beds with 10 low tunnel hoop houses; extending our growing season into the winter and early spring. at the Lutheran site and 28, 4’x 8’ beds at the Baptist church site. This year to date GRO has harvested over 1750 lbs. of organic vegetables,
GRO program Short term and long term goals,
During (2014) , GRO will explore the construction of functioning greenhouses at some or all of the sites and to establish new community gardens in Marion and other southern Illinois cities such as Carbondale and Mt.Vernon ,also the possibility of acquiring acreage with a pond for an aquaponic (raising fish and vegetables together) farm/greenhouse ; establishing an aquaculture component to the program that would see returning prisoners raising fish as well as produce..
In five years, GRO plans to become self-sustaining by joining the growing movement towards sustainable local food systems, growing and marketing vegetables and herbs locally through direct sales, farm stands, and farmers markets. Within five years, GRO will become an extension of Lutheran Social Services of Illinois (LSSI) Employment Skills School so that returning citizens will have class room learning opportunities in addition to on-site learning. LSSI will include at-risk youth who have been previously incarcerated in the GRO program and teach them and other returning citizens agricultural, horticultural, and entrepreneurial skills learned through gardening. These skills also include farming, landscaping, residential lawn and garden maintenance, forestry, tree service (arborist), golf course maintenance, nursery greenhouse work, sales and marketing, business management, architecture, nutrition, and health food services.
KGI is a nonprofit community of over 30,000 people who are growing some of our own food and helping others to do the same.
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Kitchen Gardeners International
3 Powderhorn Drive,
Scarborough, ME, 04074, USA