McDonough County Food Production Initiative
Prairie Hills RC&D Council - Macomb, Illinois
McDonough County is in western Illinois, a rural area whose economy remains depressed after the loss of large industrial employers. Local residents have little access to open space beyond backyard gardens in which to grow fresh produce. As these residents subsist on a limited income, they are unable to easily afford fresh vegetables from local grocery stores or farmers markets, and organic produce is entirely out of their reach.
The McDonough County Food Production Initiative, a project led by the Prairie Hills RC&D Council, is addressing these issues through a community garden that enables the local community to produce fresh, local, sustainably grown food. The Council is providing the key elements to make the gardens a success: it is supplying the seeds, soil amendments, tools, machinery, and other necessary equipment; coordinating educational workshops on sustainable organic agriculture while increasing participants’ environmental knowledge and awareness; and providing opportunities for local residents (especially those in public housing with limited access to green space) to engage in sustainable, healthy, outdoor leisure activities.
The list of partners on this project is most impressive: faculty and students from Western Illinois University are providing professional guidance and analysis; the Housing Authority of McDonough County and Macomb Parks District have offered sites for the gardens; the Food Initiatives Group and Western Illinois Regional Community Action Agency are assisting with seminars and publications on sustainable agriculture; and the West Prairie Future Farmers of America, Bushnell Prairie City Garden Club, and Housing Authority of McDonough County are all supplying volunteer labor for the gardens.
Through its efforts, Prairie Hills RC&D is facilitating the production and coordination of locally produced food by participants and promoting the social, nutritional, ecological, and economic benefits of organic produce to the entire community.
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