SAUK VILLAGE | Tomatoes, onions, cabbage, peppers, broccoli, radishes, herbs and more grow behind McConathy Public Library and will be available to Sauk Villagers as soon as they're ready to harvest, thanks in part to a $300 grant from the Cook County Farm Bureau.
The Sauk Village beautification committee, chaired by Marva Campbell-Pruitt, is growing the produce for the second summer.
"The idea was that with so much negativity going on in our village, we figured that if we did a community garden it's not major, but it would be something that could bring us together," Campbell-Pruitt said.
The space behind the library was chosen simply because there was a enough land available with access to a water source. About a dozen 6-foot beds dot the yard behind the library. The beautification committee hopes to add some tables and maybe even music next summer, giving people a chance to read and enjoy each other's company among the plants.
"I think it's a great idea," Library Assistant Director Colleen Baughman said. "It's kind of peaceful to come out here, and people enjoy it."
Residents can come into the library and ask to help themselves to the bounty. Campbell-Pruitt said the garden provides some with fresh vegetables they otherwise wouldn't have.
"We've been giving a lot of things to patrons that come in and check out books," Baughman said. "People ask, even people walking by, say 'hey, what's going on in the back?' and we tell them to come check out the garden."
The Farm Bureau provides a master gardener who can offer advice and guidance. The grant money was used to buy some of the plants from Smits Farms in Chicago Heights. Other plants were donated by Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, Lamda Tau Omega chapter. Some of the sorority's members even came out to help get the garden started. Library staff and members of the beautification committee did their share of the work, too.
Many of the vegetables were planted as organic seeds donated by Renee's Garden in Felton, Calif. Preschool kids from Children's Place Learning Academy helped plant some of those during a day with their dads in April.
Pruitt-Campbell said she also brings children from the academy out to the gardens once a week to help tend the garden. Afterward, she brings produce back to the school with them and the group makes salads.
"It's a lovely thing for a town that needs lovely things," Library Director Nanette Wargo said.