DeKalb County Community Gardens hosted its first Green Living Festival on Thursday in the hopes of providing local families with the tools to find cheap and easy ways to eat fresh, save on electricity and reduce waste.
“You can have nutritious food, and it costs you nothing,” said DeKalb County Community Gardens board member Nancy Proesel said. “It doesn’t cost you time, and it’s so fulfilling.”
Growing ingredients in the backyard can go a long way in terms of not only eating healthfully, but also simultaneously saving money and the environment, 350 Kishwaukee co-chairwoman Meryl Domina said.
“It’s energy-saving because there’s no transportation cost like bringing produce from California over here in the summer, because we have our own gardens,” she said. “You don’t need as many containers. You can reuse.”
Free power strips were available to visitors looking to cut back on energy by easily unplugging their appliances when they’re not in use.
The 2-hour program also included cooking lessons for tear salads, vegetable dips and homemade salad dressing that Proesel promised would be a hit with kids and adults.
“Environmentally, to keep the food on our plates growing locally, that’s a major win-win,” she said. “There are kids that don’t like vegetables necessarily, mostly because they’ve never had them. They’ve never been given the really fresh-out-of-the-garden taste, and that’s what you give kids to make them want really fresh food.”
As the summer winds down, and day camps and summer sports come to an end, gardening is an easy, relaxing alternative for active families to participate together, Domina said.
“It’s good for kids to use their energy gardening most of the time instead of always having to figure out what they’re going to do next,” she said. “Just spend time in the garden.”