The Village of Park Forest encourages the establishment of food and pollinator gardens on public and private land including at schools, workplaces, houses of worship and village owned vacant lots. Each garden is managed differently by the participants of that garden.
What is a Community Garden
A community garden is a piece of land gardened or cultivated by a group of people individually or collectively. Normally in community gardens, the land is divided into individual plots. Each individual gardener is responsible for their own plot and the harvest, or the production of the garden, belongs to the individual. In collective gardens the piece of land is not divided. A group of people cultivate it together and the harvest belongs to all participants.
"Community Garden" doesn't mean any visitors can pick the produce, flowers, or other plants. Community Gardens are great places to visit. They're beautiful, peaceful, and inspiring. When visiting community gardens, it is important to treat these spaces with respect, enjoy them with your eyes, ears, and nose, but not by touch. Harvests are the much-anticipated result of a season full of hard-work that gardeners look forward to throughout the season.
Ways to Start Community Gardening
- Apply to create a new garden through one of the options below!
- Volunteer with an existing garden group. Contact the Sustainability Office at 708-503-9372 or firstname.lastname@example.org to get connected.
The Park Forest Community Garden Program
We support community gardens through two programs - the Community Garden Grant Program and the Village Owned Vacant Lot Garden Program . Both new and existing gardens are encouraged to participate in these programs.
- Community Garden Grant Program
Gardens on public or private land including at schools, workplaces, and houses of worship are eligible for our Community Garden Grant, which provides up to $100 per growing season for garden creation and development. Apply by filling out the Park Forest Community Garden Grant Program application, either online or in print, here.
The Community Garden Grant Reimbursement form can be found here.
- Village Owned Vacant Lot Garden Program
Village-owned vacant lots are available to residents for community gardening. In exchange for maintaining the lot (mowing, etc) for the entire growing season, gardeners can receive a reimbursement of up to $250 for garden-related costs. Both proposed and existing gardens on vacant lots can apply for the program by filling out the Village-owned Vacant Lot Community Garden application here. A map of vacant lots suitable for gardening is available here. Please email your application to email@example.com or mail it to the Sustainability Office at 350 Victory Drive, Park Forest, IL 60466.
The Village Owned Vacant Lot Garden Reimbursement form can be found here.
- Properties directly bordering Vacant Lot Community Gardens are eligible for a $25 per month credit on their water bill for letting the garden use their outdoor water spigot and hose. $25 per month is almost guaranteed to cover the cost of the water used by the garden. The application is available in the Village-owned Vacant Lot Garden program application (for new gardens) and on the recertification application (for returning gardens).
- Vacant Lot Community Gardens that don’t have a willing neighbor and other Community Gardens can receive water deliveries from the Recreation, Parks, and Community Health Department. There is a fee of $25 per delivery, due when the order is placed. Call 708-748-2005 or visit the Rec and Parks desk in Village Hall to schedule a delivery. Deliveries will be made on Fridays and orders must be placed by 5pm on Monday.
There’s a History of Community Gardening in Park Forest
A community garden is any piece of land gardened by a group of people. Historically, community gardens have played an important role in the U.S. The Victory Gardens of World War II brought people together to garden on public and private land. At one point during the war, there were over 20 million Victory Gardens in the U.S., producing 40% of the nation’s vegetables.
The Village of Park Forest has a long history of community gardens going back to an allotment-style garden with 352 individual plots started in 1979. The program was very successful in bringing members of the community together to grow their own food, and continued through the 1992 growing season. The current Park Forest Community Garden Program aims to revive the tradition of gardening together and growing food within the community.