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Free gardening plots available to veterans through Will County program

JOLIET – It may be almost winter, but the Resource Recovery and Energy Division of the Will County Land Use Department is thinking spring.

Applications for free 10-foot by 10-foot plots at the Joliet Park District’s organic community garden at 3200 McDonough St. are already available for Will County veterans.

    Kathy Pecora, RRE’s Energy and Conservation Specialist, said, “We are releasing this information early, and passing out flyers to the Veterans Assistance Commission and the veterans centers at Joliet Junior College, Lewis University and the University of St. Francis in hopes of getting more veterans to participate.

    “Gardening has been proven to have therapeutic benefits to veterans and has been used as a means to help returning veterans deal with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.”

Five veterans took advantage of the program in 2016, Pecora said, growing vegetables for their families’ tables. All but one veteran was from Joliet, but Pecora stressed the program is not limited to Joliet veterans; it is open to all Will County veterans.

She said in addition to the plots, water is accessible, and plants and some gardening tools are available at the Eastside Green House.   

    “I typically only hear when the conditions are bad, and this year, all of the gardeners were very happy,” Pecora said. The program has been in place since 2015.

The program is paid for through grant funding from the Will County Land Use Department’s We WILL Grow School and Community Garden Program. Community partners are the Joliet Park District and Sue Harkis at the Eastside Green House.

For additional information or an application, contact Pecora at (815) 774-7906. She can also be reached by email at kpecora@willcountylanduse.com. Applications for the 2017 growing season are due March 31.

The Will County Land Use Department is led by Director Curt Paddock and is under Will County Executive Larry Walsh’s office. For additional information about the department, go to www.willcountygreen.com.