One sunny day a few weeks ago I was driving out to a business lunch in Oswego, Illinois. As I turned on a side road I saw this amazing garden next to the park district building. Without exaggerating, I screeched my car to a halt and banked a U in middle of the street so I could go back and take a look. A gorgeous raised bed garden greeted me with butterflies and rows of vegetables and sparkly unicorn happiness. Swear to goodness I heard angelic garden choirs singing from above when I stepped out of my car into that garden. It was beautiful and perfect and amazing.
First thing I saw was this astounding basket of fresh picked strawberries resting in the shade. They were so fresh and so filled with summer goodness that I could smell their deliciousness before I even bent down to snap the photo. Garden ladies came out to meet me [see top photo - left to right - Chris Dombkowski, Laura Dombkowski, Sue Bowling and Jackie Berg]. They call themselves the WOGs [the Women of the Garden] and it turns out I stopped on the one day a week they came out to weed and work together in the community garden. These ladies are no ordinary gardeners; they they are super women who dream of feeding their community single handedly with organic garden fresh vegetables. They run the Oswegoland Park District’s Food Pantry Garden and are all volunteers. I asked where all the other volunteers were to help with this big garden. Sadly, they have very few volunteers even though they are in desperate need of more help. Boyscouts have helped them build fencing and they have pieced together the garden one bit at a time.
Together we wandered the garden beds. Chris held radishes in her hand while telling her story of how nature makes her feel every day. Sue Bowling taught me about kale and talked about the vitamin power of organic fresh produce. Jackie smiled. A lot. While telling me the story of how the WOGs truly feel about this garden – that it rests their souls and makes them all very happy to feel as if they are giving back to their neighbors and community.
Watching them weed, and laugh, and tell their tale, I realize these gardeners are more than they seem — they are tough garden mama’s who kick vegetable ass and take names. Four years ago they started the garden and donate all of the food to the Kendall County Food Pantry in Yorkville. Last summer they donated over 2,400 lbs of produce. Through the generosity of Schaefers Greenhouse in Montgomery, IL they have been able to borrow some greenhouse space to start seeds in early spring, but they need more help. The Pantry Garden is located at Prairie Point Center, 313 E. Washington St., Oswego, IL 60543. If you can help this extraordinary group of volunteers by sending seeds, helping with building and garden supplies, or volunteering, please feel free to contact them. For more information contact Dave Margolis at 630.554.4439 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Dave has a direct line to the WOG’s [Women of the Garden] and will be happy to help you reach out to share with this fantastic group of gardeners and help them make a difference in their little part of the big world.