St. Francis de Sales' Jubilee Garden is expected to harvest about 5,000 lbs. of produce this year, an equivalent of about $15,000 worth of fresh, organic vegetables, according to Kathy Gill, garden leader.
Vegetables and fruit grown at Jubilee Garden on Rte. 22, east of Quentin Road, are donated to local food pantries.
“This is the most nutritious food the people are going to get. It's very healthy. Most food at the food pantry is processed,” Gill said.
Gill has been the manager of the garden for the last three years; she previously worked in information technology (IT). “It’s wonderful God has given me this opportunity. It’s something I want to see sustained for the future."
She said a recent donation to the Lake-McHenry County Veterans was heartwarming.
"There were a whole variety of people there, different ethnic groups and ages, elderly, disabled," she said. She said many of the elderly veterans insisted on carrying their own share of vegetables, even though there was help on hand.
"It was really good to be there. It was great to help out," Gill said.
The produce from the garden goes to Emmaus House, St. Vincent de Paul food pantry, the Cary-Grove food pantry and the Lake-McHenry County Veterans food pantry. A small portion gets shared with the Lake Zurich Fire Department, which provides water for the reservoirs.
“The Lake Zurich Fire Department is invaluable . . . We would have nothing here if not for them,” Gill said.
This giving garden is a community effort that involves area church groups, scouting groups, school groups, and individual volunteers. Children and adults are given the opportunity for service and learning.
“This is God’s garden. There is no way one church could run this alone,” Gill said.
Recently , a local scout, Alex Warkenthien, made many improvements to the garden as his Eagle Scout project. He rebuilt the shelter, built raised beds, spread mulch and replaced picnic tables.
This week garden volunteers were harvesting green beans, zucchini squash and tomatoes. Harvest work will continue until October and the Jubilee Garden welcomes volunteers. Volunteers have donated about 1,000 hours to the garden so far this year. That is not counting Gill’s service. The St. Francis de Sales Jubilee Garden website has information on volunteering or call St. Francis De Sales Church at (847) 438-6622.
The 5-acre garden site is possible through St. Francis de Sales parishioner Bill Haberstroh who donates the use of his land.
The garden runs on donations. This year in order to raise funds for garden expenses, the Jubilee Garden will sell its bounty on the third Saturday of the month, starting Aug. 18.
“We’ll sell them for $3 per lb. and it’s all organic, beautiful vegetables growing from a great community-supported garden,” Gill said.