Solidarity Gardens Launched To Address Food Disruption And Insecurity

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Above photo: From Solidarity Gardens CU.

Champaign-Urbana, IL – Individuals and organizations are encouraged and empowered to plant gardens throughout the Champaign-Urbana area and donate use of land, garden supplies, and expertise through a newly launched initiative, Solidarity Gardens CU, in order to address food disruptions and insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Modeled after the WWII-era Victory Gardens, Solidarity Gardens is being launched on June 3, 2020 by a network of area organizations and individuals throughout the Champaign-Urbana area.

With help from the broader community, Solidarity Gardens CU will be offering free seeds, seedlings, tools, soil, containers, miscellaneous supplies, gardening expertise, and educational resources to any interested party in the Champaign-Urbana area, and will then collect, process, and redistribute donated produce to community members who are facing economic and food access challenges through the Solidarity Gardens CU Distribution Network. Participants will receive a Solidarity Garden yard sign, donated by Cunningham Township, to acknowledge their effort. The initiative is also looking for groups to adopt garden plots donated by the Urbana Park District and Champaign Park District.

To become involved, go to http://www.solidarity-gardens-cu.org where you can indicate your interest in participating (garden, offer expertise, donate use of land, containers, etc.) and/or what resources you need (tilling, tools, soil, seeds, misc. supplies, expertise, etc.). Instructions regarding pickup and delivery will be sent to individuals following registration via the website. The initiative also seeks funding to offset costs; donations may be made at http://donate.solidarity-gardens-cu.org.

On Wednesday, June 3, the first distribution of seeds, seedlings, and containers was delivered to extremely low-income families, identified by Cunningham Township, through Channing-Murray Foundation’s Bucket Brigade, a program delivering essential grocery items to Urbana residents in need. The Bucket Brigade will continue to distribute gardening supplies to interested individuals in the coming weeks.  

The following pick-up locations will be open to individuals interested in gardening, while supplies last:

Cunningham Township
205 West Green Street, Urbana

  • Mondays and Wednesday from 1 to 4:30p
  • Fridays from 8a to 10:30a

Sola Gratia Pay-What-You-Can Market (along with CU Public Health Mobile Services)
Cornerstone Fellowship, 1101 E. Colorado Ave, Urbana

  • Every Friday from 1p to 3p (beginning June 5)

Carle Mobile Health Clinic
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays (beginning June 9)

Various Locations (see below for next week’s schedule)

  • Tuesday, June 9 from 8a to noon
    Mount Calvary Baptist Church, 1601 W. Bloomington Road, Champaign
  • Wednesday, June 10 from 9a to 4p
    Salt & Light, 1819 Philo Road, Urbana
  • Thursday, June 11 from 9a to 4p
    Illinois Worknet Building, 1307 N. Mattis Avenue, Champaign

The full schedule for the Carle Mobile Health Clinic can be found at https://carle.org/services/carle-mobile-health-clinic

With some of the best soil in the world and a rising food insecurity rate, now is the time to transition more of our soil into food production for our community. We have folks with time and a willingness to learn; neighbors with gardening knowledge but lack tools and yards; residents with land, tools, and expertise who are interested in teaching others and sharing surplus production; and a team of leaders ready to build and support this network. Solidarity Gardens is a timely matchmaking effort of knowledge, need, and resources to empower, connect, and feed our community.    — Traci Barkley, Director, Sola Gratia Farm

Our low income neighbors were already surviving off $6.40 in food subsidies per day. With the pandemic, we are concerned more and more people will struggle to eat and to eat healthy. Solidarity Gardens CU is a way we can come together to help each other in this difficult time.    — Danielle Chynoweth, Cunningham Township Supervisor

The Solidarity Gardens CU partners include Cunningham Township, Channing Murray Foundation, Sola Gratia Farm, Carle, Urbana Free Library, University of Illinois Extension, University of Illinois School of Social Work, Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, Four Osprey/Champaign-Urbana City Farms, Urbana Park District, Champaign Park District, Urbana School District, Cu Public Health District, McKinley Foundation, First Followers, City of Urbana, and Lierman Community Gardens.

For more information and to become involved, visit http://www.solidarity-gardens-cu.org, contact info@solidarity-gardens-cu.org, or call 847.306.9442.  To donate funds, visit http://donate.solidarity-gardens-cu.org.