The Deep Roots Project has officially launched its “Inspirational Edible Gardens” contest to residents in Oak Park and River Forest, offering support to aspiring green thumbs who wish to convert their lawns into either edible or native plant gardens that are toxin-free. Winners will receive two years of maintenance, free workshops and a gardening coach, all worth a total value of more than $1,000. Applicants should apply online at Deep-Roots-Project.org before Aug. 15. 

“We’re eager to have the opportunity to build these free front yard gardens and bring the importance of natural lawn care, eliminating toxins from our yard, and the importance of growing food to light,” said David Murphy, managing director, adding: “We’re excited about repurposing our lawns so they are something more meaningful than just grass.”  

The project is being funded through a $10,000 Big Idea grant awarded to the Deep Roots Project in March 2018. Deep Roots has also received an additional $7,000 from the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation. 

Winners will receive support from the Deep Roots Project that includes fresh compost, compost tea, vegetable seedlings, seeds and a garden mentor for two years. Participating families and groups will learn how to sow, water, maintain and harvest their garden, and work with several organizations, including Midwest Grows Green, a community, toxin-free landscaping advocacy organization; the River Forest Sustainability Commission; KaliKale, a toxin-free edible garden organization; and more.

Garden winners will be required to donate 25 percent of their harvests to a local food pantry or the food insecure. 

The three-step application process includes general information about the property and homeowner, a questionnaire and a face-to-face interview. Applicants must collect pledges from others in their community who take the “Healthy Lawn, Healthy Family” pledge to eliminate the use of harmful lawn and garden chemicals in their yard. The pledge is available on the Deep Roots website. 

For more information, contact David Murphy at 773-502-5600 or dmurphy@deep-roots-project.org. 

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