Tag Archives: Parkland Horticulture program

Pantry Produce Plot: More than Honors Work

To complete an A with Honors project for her Hospitality degree, Parkland College sophomore Del Jacobs has been working with Parkland Horticulture faculty this summer to plant a garden for the Wesley Food Pantry at Parkland.  She shares the process and her progress below. As a student, Del’s exemplary efforts in sustainability and feeding the hungry are well documented; the garden project is a continuation of her drive to serve. Parkland is proud to train those with a heart to help.



I approached Theresa mid-spring about getting help from the Horticulture students to plan and plant a garden to feed 30 families. The Wesley Food Pantry at Parkland feeds an average of 30 families at each distribution.

Theresa’s class ran the numbers and figured out what to plant and how much to plant. In May, before my trip to Morocco, I helped Theresa and her staff plant the garden. Unfortunately, I was unable to monitor the garden for the first six weeks, and the weeds got very large and deep. Therefore, the garden doesn’t look pretty, which is why there are no pictures of it.

I began to coordinate volunteers to help me weed. We began by meeting every Saturday from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. to pull weeds. We weren’t making much progress, so I added another day. We now also meet on Tuesdays from 4:45 to 5:45 p.m.  So far, I have had nine volunteers; most have joined me once. My most faithful volunteer is Thor Peterson, sustainability coordinator at Parkland.

In spite of the problems, I have been able to harvest approximately 450 pounds of produce!

IMG_0131IMG_0146 IMG_0136IMG_0150

I am also providing recipes to the pantry clients. I try to furnish recipes that use more than one vegetable from the garden along with nonperishable
items available at the pantry.

As the season moves on and the summer vegetables are harvested, we will be planting vegetables to harvest in the fall.

Lastly, I began working with Dawn Longfellow, Wesley Food Pantry’s operations manager, on a name and graphic for the garden. Dawn is still working on the graphic, but we have decided on the name: “Parkland’s Pantry Produce Plot.” I’m hoping this project will continue for many years, and I plan to be involved past the end of my A w/Honors project.

[Theresa  Meers is an associate professor of ag/horticulture at Parkland.]


HRT 116 Wows Vets with Memorial Garden Designs


On Veterans Day, my Introduction to Landscape Design (HRT 116) class impressed their client, 1st Sgt. Michael Freed of the Illinois Army National Guard,  with their designs for a soldier memorial garden to be built in Roberts, Illinois.

When he approached me this summer about the project, Sgt. Freed wanted me to help create the design, having heard about my work with the WTC Memorial Project, St. Jude Children’s Hope Garden, and the Urbana Labyrinth.  I accepted but wanted to share this once-in-a-lifetime experience with my design students.

So three teams presented on Nov. 11: Fox Trot Platoon, The American Phoenix, and Brody’s Bunch, the latter group named after one of the team members. Sgt. Freed as well as some of the students presenting were nearly moved to tears by this incredible opportunity to recognize and memorialize the first 19 soldiers killed in the line of duty from December 2008 to September 2009.

Sgt. Freed and I found so many great design aspects in each design that I will be incorporating the best of each into one final cohesive design. Early in spring 2016, I will create a final design for the project, and my students and I, as a part of my Landscape Construction and Maintenance (HRT 119) class, will actually build part of the design.

To unveil this soldier tribute, we’re expecting a ribbon-cutting ceremony with the governor and others on Memorial Day 2016. Stay tuned.