Communiversity Garden to break ground May 8

2014-04-16 17.54.22DeKalb County Community Gardens and NIU are planning a groundbreaking at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, May 8, for the first-ever “Communiversity Garden” at NIU’s main DeKalb campus.

The garden will involve NIU students and community members in growing food to share with those in need.

“This joint community and university project could be a template for future collaboration,” said Dan Kenney, executive director of DeKalb County Community Gardens, the local non-profit group which has more than 40 gardens throughout the county. “We look forward to continuing to work together on this and future partnerships.”

The university is providing a 22,000-square-foot area on the east side of Anderson Hall for the garden, which was designed by Michaela Holtz, a graduate of Kishwaukee College’s landscape design program who earned a master’s degree in Geography from NIU. Holtz currently serves as assistant to the director of NIU’s Office of Student Engagement & Experiential Learning.

“Like the communiversity planter initiative and IHSA Destination DeKalb, this partnership is an excellent example of how community members – acting in a coordinated manner with NIU students, faculty and staff – can improve the quality of life for area residents,” said Bill Nicklas, NIU vice president for Public Safety and Community Relations. “The garden will be a place of inspiration and community in addition to providing social and environmental benefits.”

Based on ideas and input from students and volunteers, the design will include an international garden that will provide students from other countries to plant and grow vegetables which they are familiar with in their home countries. The garden, which is accessible to all, includes outside class forum space, a children’s garden as well as native grasses.

DeKalb County Community Gardens logo“We envision some departments using the gardens for instruction, research and for outdoor experiences. We also want to incorporate the arts with sculpture and music in the gardens,” Kenney said.

The garden will be created in phases, with phase one beginning this spring and summer after the first load of soil is delivered in May. The international garden will be part of the first phase.

“We have reached out to the entire campus to be involved,” said NIU student Jacob Lawrence. “We want this to be a truly community and university project that involves all.”

For more information, or to get involved, call (815) 793-0950 or email dkenney53@hotmail.com.

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