URBANA — If you’ve got extra time on your hands this summer, how about growing some fresh produce?
Several local organizations have gotten together to launch a new community gardening initiative called Solidarity Gardens CU.
Anyone can participate and receive free seeds, seedlings, tools and other supplies, according to Cunningham Township Supervisor Danielle Chynoweth.
Solidarity Gardens CU will provide yard signs to participants and will collect and distribute any donated produce to community members who need it.
“The goal is that we actually want to empower anyone in the community to grow food for themselves and their neighbors and anyone in need to be able to access it,” Chynoweth said.
Not only can gardening help fill the need for fresh food for those who need it, it can also be a safe way to relieve stress and use extra time at home.
“What we see is that some people have time and they want to help, and we need to socially distance, so being able to grow food where they are is a great way for them to do stress relief, contribute to their neighbors and anyone in need to be able to access it,” Chynoweth said.
Solidarity Gardens CU, launched Wednesday, has been modeled after World War II-era Victory Gardens, according to the township.
For those lacking the yard space for a garden, Chynoweth said community garden plots are available through the Champaign and Urbana park districts. The McKinley Foundation at the University of Illinois and the Channing-Murray Foundation also have garden plots, she said.
Chynoweth said one distribution of seedlings has already been made, and some greens planted in early spring at the township’s garden space south of the Urbana Free Library have been given away.
Gardening can also be a great activity for kids, Chynoweth said. Her own 9-year-old has already gotten involved, she said.
Anyone interested in taking part in this gardening initiative can go to one of several locations where free supplies will be available as long as they last. Or, anyone can request seeds, seedlines, tilling, tools and expertise through the website at solidarity-gardens-cu.org. For those placing online, pickup directions will be provided.
Here are opportunities to pick up supplies, as long as they last, without placing orders in advance:
— Cunningham Township offices, 205 W. Green St., U, from 1-4:30 p.m. each Monday and Wednesday and 8-10:30 a.m. each Friday.
— Sola Gratia Pay-What-You-Can Market and Champaign-Urbana Public Health Mobile Services each Friday from 1-3 p.m. at Cornerstone Fellowship, 1101 E. Colorado Ave., U.
— Mount Calvary Baptist Church, 1601 W. Bloomington Road, C, from 8 a.m. to noon June 9.
— Salt & Light, 1819 Philo Road, U, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 10.
— Illinois Worknet Building, 1307 N. Mattis Ave., C, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 11.
— Various locations for Carle Mobile Health Clinic each Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday beginning June 9. See the schedule at carle.org/services/carle-mobile-health-clinic.
Solidarity Gardens CU partners include, in addition to Cunningham Township, Channing-Murray Foundation, Sola Gratia Farm, Carle, the Urbana Free Library, University of Illinois Extension, UI School of Social Work, Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, Four Osprey/Champaign-Urbana City Farms, Urbana and Champaign park districts, Urbana School District, McKinley Foundation, First Followers, city of Urbana and Lierman Community Gardens.
The program is accepting donations from the public to help defray the cost at donate.solidarity-gardens-cu.org.