A sponsorship from Quad Cities Station made it possible for the local University of Illinois Extension to provide education and outreach on what Illinois residents at three urban gardens in the Quad Cities can grow, and how it can be grown, to foster healthier lifestyles.
Riverside Gardens – Moline: University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener and Master Naturalist volunteers have a demonstration edible and ornamental garden at Riverside Park, located at 3300 5th Ave., and on city bus lines. It is accessible to many residents and is also in a food dessert. The edible portion of the garden grows and harvests vegetables and some fruits for donation to Youth Hope. The ornamental portion of the Riverside garden has trials of perennial plants from Blooms of Bresslingham. Many people rely on this research for making decisions on purchases for their home landscape. At the entry to the demonstration garden there is a certified Monarch waystation garden also maintained by our volunteers. This garden is a great tool to teach about the decline in pollinators.
MonARC Gardens – Rock Island: Master Gardener/Master Naturalist volunteers successfully worked with ARC of the Quad Cities to create an ongoing weekly program during the growing season. The volunteers taught environmental topics including bees, insects, composting and worked in the raised bed gardens with special needs clients to grow healthy food that supplemented their daily diet. Many of the clients reside in group homes and this addition of fresh food was a luxury for them. The program teaches this special needs population how gardening can be a tool for healthier lifestyles and can potentially change eating habits.
Hennepin Canal – Big Island/Milan Parkway: A native Plant Pollinator Garden was planted this last spring in partnership with Big Island Soil and Water Conservation and Friends of the Hennepin. The garden demonstrated the beauty and environmental impact of having native pollinators available. Temporary signage explaining what is planted and their importance was placed throughout the garden. Participants in the program increase their knowledge of the pollinators’ plight and what they can do in their own backyard to support them, as well as getting people of all ages out for a walk while learning as they go.