A Community on the Grow

By: Porter County Parks & Recreation Last Updated: May 7, 2012

PoCo-Parks-Community-Garden-1Porter County Parks and Recreation, Grow NWI offer community garden project

Last year, a plot of land was set aside to begin a Community Garden at Sunset Hill Farm County Park. A handful of volunteers worked on it throughout the summer, and made sure it got off to a good start.

This year, Porter County Parks and Recreation and Grow NWI are introducing the garden on May 19, 2012 during Spring Out to Sunset, one of the park’s largest annual festivals. Grow NWI, which facilitates the garden, is a local organization committed to fostering and sustaining community gardens and urban agriculture programs that grow produce in Northwest Indiana.

The theme of Spring Out to Sunset is “A Community on the Grow” and Marie Foster, Marketing and Events Coordinator for Porter County Parks and Recreation, said the Community Garden exemplifies that motto.

We are incredibly excited to offer this garden to our community,” she said. “During Spring Out to Sunset, people will learn about what this project has to offer throughout the spring and summer, while also getting some helpful tips for their own gardens at home.

PoCo-Parks-Community-Garden-2The Community Garden will play a large role in Spring Out to Sunset this year, Foster said. People will have the chance to plant seeds in the garden, which is sustained completely by the public. The produce and plants the garden yields belong to the community as well.

Grow NWI is working to create locations that provide local and homegrown vegetables to the community with the help of residents and organizations in Northwest Indiana.

Sunset Hill Farm County Park is one of the most active sites for this program, according to Grow NWI Project Manager Chuck Gleason.

Porter County Parks and Recreation has been amazing from the inception of this project,” he said. “(Porter County Parks and Recreation Superintendent) Walter (Lenckos) was one of the very first die-hard supporters and we have really come far in the first year. We love that there is so much activity and programming out there already, and that the park has been so willing to make the garden an important part of a really great park.”

The Community Garden is one of the many activities that will be offered during Spring Out to Sunset. Other highlights include a visit from a talented team of Frisbee dogs that have wowed crowds during NBA and NFL halftime shows, children’s workshops and performances by Chicago Street Theatre and Front Porch Music, a community mosaic organized by the Lubeznik Center for the Arts, Third Coast Spice cooking demonstrations, Valpo ATA martial arts classes, a Reins of Life Therapeutic Mini Horse, clogging, and a stunt kite team.

We want to make sure we offer a variety of programs that engage families in different ways,” Foster said. “Music, art, wellness and nature are all elements that we incorporate into our programming throughout the year, so we wanted to highlight those during Spring Out to Sunset.”

Spring Out to Sunset will take place on May 19, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Sunset Hill Farm County Park, 775 Meridian Road in Valparaiso. For more information, call 219-465-3586 or visit www.portercountyparks.org. A complete schedule of events and map of the festival is available on the Web site.

About Porter County Parks and Recreation
The mission of the Porter County Parks and Recreation Board and Department is to preserve, protect and manage the natural, cultural and recreational resources within a diverse park system. For more information, call 219-465-3586, or e-mail pcparks@porterco.org.