The Harvard Community Garden germinated as an idea in 1999 when Dave Trumbell and Werner Heidtke got together with Kasey Murphy from the UI Cooperative Extension Service in Woodstock. The first garden was planted in 2001 and it has grown ever since, with the strong support of the City of Harvard and lots of community volunteers. Today, the garden sits on land donated by the City of Harvard and produces over 4,000 pounds of food for the Harvard Food Pantry.
The University of Illinois Extension Service helps coordinate the volunteers at the community gardens, gives cooking demonstrations at the food pantry and teaches nutrition classes. This government organization is funded by three sources: the federal government, the state and the county, hence the name "coopoerative." It is, I believe, an under-used resource in most communities. Originally founded to serve the agricultural community by taking the research done at our land grant universities and making that technology available to farmers, they soon realized that rural homemakers also needed information about nutrition. While still serving agriculture, they also focus on serving urban communities. The Master Gardeners volunteer to answer gardening questions and the extension staff does community outreach. A product of the 4-H program myself, I am an avid supporter of the extension service and hope that you take advantage of what they have to offer.