Conservation, sustainable local food, and environmental education are vital to the Liberty Prairie Foundation, and we support a Community Gardening program at the Prairie Crossing Farm that aligns with these impact areas. The community garden is also consistent with the Prairie Crossing Guiding Principles. Interest in home gardening continues to grow, and we welcome interested gardeners from Prairie Crossing and the surrounding areas to build community and grow food at the Prairie Crossing Farm Community Garden.
While the Prairie Crossing Farm is certified organic, the adjacent community garden is not certified though gardeners are strongly encouraged to following organic gardening practices and not allowed to use of pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers. Community gardening requires consideration of and cooperation with others, and we ask gardeners to exercise both. All gardeners must agree to our Community Garden Requirements.
Gardeners are good and kind people. They look out for each others’ best interests, return anything borrowed, and respect each others’ gardens. They share their bounty, and enjoy building community through gardening. Happy gardening!
All gardeners renting a plot in the Liberty Prairie Foundation’s Community Gardens must agree to the following Community Garden Requirements.
1. Commercial chemical pesticides and herbicides are not allowed, as these drift or leach to other people’s gardens. Any materials (fertilizer, soap solution, etc.) must be applied in a way that does not interfere with other gardens and produce.
2. Gardeners will ensure that the metal stakes marking their plot stay in place, and that their tools and equipment stay inside their plot. Plot boundaries are not as accurate as desirable and between seasons corrections are sometimes made. For this reason, please do not plant perennials close to the borders. Mowing around the gardens is necessary, but will kill plants that drift outside the markers.
3. Gardeners will keep their plot reasonably neat and prevent weeds from spreading to other plots. This means, at the least, preventing grass patches, flowering weeds, and tree/shrub invasion.
4. The walkways must be kept weed free, level, and at the correct width. Mulching the walkways around your plot with a layer of black cloth covered by wood chips is strongly recommended. This helps manage weeds, and marks the walkways nicely. Mulch is available near the gardens.
5. Gardeners who cannot maintain their plot or abandon it for any reason must contact us so it can be offered to someone else. If other gardeners complain about spreading weeds, the plot may be mowed after efforts to contact the gardener. If not addressed the rental may be cancelled and the plot offered to someone else.
6. Compostable plant waste must be placed on the compost wagon on Harris Road, not in walkways or the perimeter of the community garden. Plant waste can cause plant diseases, and must not be left in garden plots. The compost wagon is available from April – November. Please do not deposit plastic or garbage in the compost wagon.
7. Water is available from two spigots located near the east and west garden plots, using shared hoses. Please keep hoses in good shape, and leave them along the main pathway so others can easily use them. Turn off the main faucet after use to prevent water waste and burst hoses. Please Contact us if hoses are broken or leaking.
8. Compost is available for all gardeners to share in the spring. Compost is expensive and a little goes a long way. Please use it sparingly, and only take compost from the community garden compost pile. Compost is a shared community garden amenity, so please be respectful of your fellow community gardeners and use it sparingly.
9. We encourage use of leaf mulch or grass clippings on your plot. Plastic mulch and landscape cloth must be removed at the end of the season (late Oct.). Newspaper mulch is not acceptable as it is non-organic and tends to fly away.
10. Gardeners whose plots are confirmed for the season can work the soil as soon as it is dry enough in the spring. Tilling or digging by hand will loosen the soil and reduce early weed growth. Ideally till/dig once, apply compost/leaf mulch, then till/dig again. Near season’s end the garden coordinator will inspect the gardens. Those who don’t meet the above requirements will be notified and have a chance to catch up; if they cannot do that by the given date they will not qualify for a plot the following season. Continuing gardeners are encouraged to till their soil in the fall (as well as spring) to aerate the soil and feed it with turned-under weeds over winter.
11. The little hut in the east garden plots can provide momentary shelter as needed. Garden chairs and a picnic table can be set up under the shade tree. The hut is also used during the winter to store garden hoses.
12. Gardeners can park along Harris Road close to the gardens and at the north side of the stable parking lot. Driving and parking on the walkways near the gardens is not permitted.
13. Please be respectful of your community garden neighbors and the nearby Prairie Crossing Stable owners. Do not place items on the split rail fencing surrounding the horse pastures as it can spook the horses.
2017 rental fees include shared access to compost, mulch, water, plus the administrative and perimeter maintenance cost:
Everyone (including those from beyond Prairie Crossing) is welcome. Please help keep our rental fees low by using compost and water responsibly with respect for the other community gardeners and in the spirit of the Liberty Prairie Foundation’s focus on conservation and sustainability. New hoses were purchased in 2013 and we expect gardeners to treat them gently and keep them maintained.
Gardeners who do not maintain their plots cause problems for other community gardeners. If other gardeners complain about spreading weeds, we may mow the plot after efforts to contact the gardener. If not addressed the rental may be cancelled and the plot offered to someone else. We will not offer a plot again to gardeners who do not meet the Community Garden Requirements.
Given increased interest in gardening, no community gardening family can rent more than two full-size plots. Gardeners who are interested in becoming a professional farm business can learn more about our Farm Business Development Center.
Annual garden plot registration begins in November, when current community gardeners who have met the Community Garden Requirements the previous season are offered renewal for the following year. Available garden plots are offered to gardeners on the waiting list, then remaining spots are communicated in the Prairie Crossing Farm email newsletter and on this website. Garden plots sometimes become available mid-season if the existing renter is unable to maintain their garden plot.
Contact us or call 847-548-4062 x13 to reserve a plot or be added to our waiting list.
The Community Gardens are located on the east side of Harris Road, across the street from the Liberty Prairie Foundation’s headquarters at the Yellow Farmhouse. Parking is available along the side of Harris Road.
Looking for the location of your community garden area? The location of each garden space is indicated on the Community Garden map.
To see the numbers more clearly, click here. You can view this high resolution PDF or download it for future reference.
Our community gardens have flourished since Prairie Crossing’s early days. The following resources are helpful for organizations starting a community garden and individuals learning more about gardening:
The ACGA offers training, evaluation tools, online resources, and more.
The Peterson Garden Project, an urban community gardening program in Chicago, published “Fearless Food Gardening in Chicagoland: A Month-By-Month Growing Guide for Beginners“, which is specifically tailored for Chicago’s climate.
The U of I Extension offers workshops, podcasts, and more including a team of experts to answer questions. Resources include Hort Corner, Illinois Vegetable Garden Guide, Harvesting common vegetables, Information about planting times and tips, and Vegetable directory.