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Seeds planted in DeKalb community garden

Trevor Lawson, a student at Northern Illinois University, plants radish and carrot seeds into the bed Saturday.
Trevor Lawson, a student at Northern Illinois University, plants radish and carrot seeds into the bed Saturday.

DeKALB – Some DeKalb residents are planting seeds they hope will feed the entire community.

Members of the DeKalb County Community Gardens built garden beds made of wood, filled them with compost and planted vegetable and bean seeds Saturday near City Hall.

The organic garden, called the Mayor’s Community Garden, will grow plants that will be donated to various food pantries.

About 16 percent of DeKalb County lives below the poverty level, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And things aren’t getting cheaper, said Misty Haji-Sheikh, point person for the Mayor’s Community Garden.

“People like to see things [like this] at a local basis,” Haji-Sheikh said.

The Mayor’s Community Garden is a multiyear project that will have multiple beds for gardening, benches near the trees, teepees with spinach vines, a pizza garden that will grow basil and oregano, a caterpillar made from painted tires and arches for entryways.

DCCG also has gotten approval to hold a fundraiser in which people can buy bricks with their names etched on them. The bricks will be used as a walkway to the garden, Haji-Sheikh said.

DeKalb Mayor Kris Povlsen and Mayor-elect John Rey made appearances to express how much they appreciate the public’s help.

“I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for what you’re doing for this community,” Povlsen said.

DCCG members, who are volunteers, are planting at more than 35 sites across the county, growing vegetables such as cabbage, radishes, kale, peppers, onions and lettuce for the community.

They are getting financial help from Elder Care Services and the DeKalb County Youth Services Bureau.

DCCG member Heath Johnson of DeKalb gave a presentation about Japanese farmer Masanobu Fukuoka’s methods.

Fukuoka was tired of the way people in Japan were planting, Johnson said, so he developed his own technique that didn’t use pesticides, herbicides or fertilizer.

Johnson told people to mix different vegetable seeds together, spray water with a lawn and garden sprayer onto the seeds, put clay on top of them and mix everything together.

Eventually, people wound up with clay seed balls they threw at a field in Cortland.

The planting works best when the clay seed balls are thrown into clover, Johnson said.

Laura Kasch of DeKalb appreciated that the event taught people how to garden for themselves. She is interested in sustainable gardening and began buying organic foods.

“It’s crazy that it’s so hard to find food that doesn’t have chemicals in it,” she said.

Because the Mayor’s Community Garden is organic, it won’t use harsh chemicals, leaving the area susceptible to animals feeding on the food.

Haji-Sheikh is aware of the problem.

“That’s just part of gardening,” she said. “We have the capability of doing more than they are going to eat.”

DCCG is holding a community meeting at 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Lions Club Shelter in Cortland to discuss whether residents are interested in renting plots of land for growing their own vegetables. The meeting is free and open to the public.

For information about DCCG, visit

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