The Smart Farm of Barrington is celebrating the spring growing season and inviting us all to visit their brand new garden and hoop house on the grounds of Good Shepherd Hospital during an open house and organic veggie seedling sale this weekend. It’s happening from noon to 4 p.m. this Saturday, May 4th. They built the hoop house on an acre of land at the hospital, with the help of many volunteers, and thanks to a grant from the Barrington Area Community Foundation in support of the Smart Farm’s mission.
Simply stated, Smart Farm’s mission is “Growing food for our neighbors in need using sustainable gardening practices.” The 501c3 not-for-profit organization donates 100% of the produce they grow to feed people who come to our local food pantries for help. And their goal is also to encourage more of us to grow our own food and better appreciate the benefits of sustainable gardening.
A woman named Kathy Gabelman gathered a small group of gardeners to form Smart Farm in 2009. It was at a turning point in her life. “My mom had just passed away and she was raised on a farm and you go through a transition in your life. I felt like I wanted to do something good and green in our community.” And, judging by the photos on Smart Farm’s Facebook page, there’s no shortage of good, green fun with this group.
They started with a community garden at Ron Beese Park where they doubled their production last year, donating 2,000 pounds of produce to area food pantries in 2012.
Last fall, they expanded to the garden and hoop house on the hospital grounds where they hope to double their production again this year, feeding even more families in our area.
Kathy says these are “educational gardens” to help everybody grow food for themselves to improve health and wellness and give back to the community…
In addition to donating food, Smart Farm also hosts cooking classes at the Cuba Township food pantry to share recipes with families receiving their produce.
“We have single moms who come and older people and we all sit and chat and eat food and we give them a box of ingredients to make meals with the food we give them.
When you go to the food pantry and visit with the guests you really appreciate how grateful they are and how much need there is right here in our community.”
There are many ways we can help Smart Farm. They can always use volunteers to help with gardening. Their garden hours are from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays at the Good Shepherd Hospital location and from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at Ron Beese Park on Saturdays.
If you want to help, all you have to do is show up!
And they also have a Veggie Share program where you can bring produce from your own home garden which they will also donate to the food pantries.
If you’d like to learn more, tomorrow’s Open House is a great way to go. Drop by anytime between noon and 4 p.m. The garden is on the northeast corner of the Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital property behind the barn.
They will be selling Organic Veggie Seedlings, serving tea sandwiches from Whole Foods, using compostable cups and napkins, of course! They will also be sharing tips about composting and offering veggie help plus kids’ activities. And Smart Farm’s intern from last year, Ashley Behrendt, will be performing with her band, Uncle Zesty’s Old Time Bootknockers!