For new gardeners..

Here’s a little info to help you decide if Waters is for you. We often have new gardeners join the community. In pre-covid times, we had a garden orientation at the beginning of the year. These are some of the topics covered for new people interested in joining the Waters Garden community.

  • Waters is an Organic School and Community Garden.
  • Organic, meaning no pesticides.  This requires a bit of learning.  Certain crops do tend to be attacked. (squash beetles etc). We’ll share some links in the garden email to help with this.  Even if bugs attack your crop, no pesticides.  We have to be willing to let the crop go rather than dump pesticides on the plants or soil. This is best for human and environmental health. Studies show that gardeners who use pesticides do suffer adverse health effects. Waters garden is what is it is without the use of pesticides. They aren’t necessary.  So we need all our gardeners to think long and hard before deciding that they want to join an organic garden. Please decide if you want to be part of an organic garden.
  • Since it’s a school garden, we are at service to the school.  We are primarily a school garden, secondarily a community garden.  The school has benefited from the wonderful ecology program. Students have, for generations now, visited the garden with their teachers and Pete Leki, the ecology teacher, to plant, harvest, weed, move compost, build fences, and gather seeds. They enjoy the beauty of the garden, which would not be possible without the support of the community. This garden has been created and maintained by the community. 
  • The community garden plots are tended by many long time gardeners who can answer questions and know what they are doing.  If you are new, consider asking them what they are going to plant and you will get some good advice. 
  • Please tend your garden well. Start early in the spring and continue through the whole season. Please either make sure you plan to water your garden at least every other day or work out a watering arrangement with other gardeners. We do need the garden to look vibrant and it helps all of us to enjoy the garden when it’s well tended. If you come to realize that circumstances have changed and you are unable to tend your garden, consider either offering to share it or offering it back to another gardener or talk to us about what help you need.
  • The garden is open to the public, so there’s going to be some stealing of vegetables.  Plan accordingly and try to anticipate it.  If you grow large tomatoes, it’s pretty rare to be able to harvest. Cherry tomatoes do better. The more obscure or leafy your crop, the more you’ll be able to harvest. 
  • The Food Pantry: We have always donated large donations of lettuce, kale, and other crops to local food pantries. This year, it’s part of our mission. A number of new folks will be joining the garden crew to specifically grow in plots designated for the food pantry.  If you have a surplus, please consider donating. If you have time to help water/tend those plots with them, the more the merrier, please let us know.
  • The Native Gardens.  These are tended by Pete Leki, Jules Peterson-Green, and Felix .  Only .01% of the prairie ecosystem survives in Illinois. Our native garden is extremely precious. We have a high quality little ecosystem going on with some very special species.  We conduct a controlled burn each spring (with many experienced crew), We gather and spread seeds in a carefully planned manner. We pull weeds/invasive plants and we cut back the more aggressive natives to reduce competition near more rare species.  We need the community gardeners to learn about the native gardens, so you can answer questions for newcomers.  We need the community to understand our work.  Native gardens are vulnerable to destruction by those who don’t understand.
  • We need all gardeners follow covid social distancing and protocol with masks in the garden.
  • Please ask questions, listen, and be respectful. People have roles and expertise. We work to foster a culture of joy, respect, and kindness.
  • In the past, garden night was Wednesday night. This year, in order to help change the culture for covid times, we’ll be mixing up the times. Sometimes Wednesday night, sometimes Saturday mornings, afternoons, or other days of the week. It will depend on the weather and tasks than need doing. Check the emails. For garden work gatherings, we have a task list and in the past, we often shared food. We will work on a way to do this with a new protocol to respect the health of the community. Perhaps this year we will ask each person to bring their own food only. Please check the garden email for updates on all of the garden policies.