Native Medicinal Garden latest in Elgin’s blooming network (Sun-Times Media)

by Emily McFarlan Miller

ELGIN — Record-breaking heat isn’t the best weather for gardening, either for the sweating volunteers or the slightly mopey-looking plants that were wavering under a sprinkler Wednesday outside the Elgin Public Museum.

But about four brave Elgin-area residents nonetheless turned out Memorial Day weekend to help museum staff plant its new Native Medicinal Garden in the savannah of native plants outside the museum in Elgin’s Lords Park, according to museum education coordinator Sarah Russell.

That’s an extension of the Three Sisters Garden museum that staff started last year and one of more than 21 gardening projects the Elgin Community Garden Network has its hands in this summer.

Gardening has “really blown up,” Russell said.

“I feel like sometimes it’s because we’re so removed on a daily basis from nature so often,” she said. “I think there’s a pushback on that.”

Russell said people also are learning about — and have become more concerned about — chemicals and processes used in producing food.

That’s something that documentaries such as “Food Inc.” and the recent outcry over the process used to produce lean finely textured beef — “pink slime” — have highlighted. And it’s something Russell said people can control when they garden and grow their own food.

Donna Askins, president of the Elgin Community Garden Network, called it “the best food in the world.”

It’s also one of the many benefits to students in School District U46 schools with community gardens, such as Abbott Middle, Channing Memorial Elementary and Garfield Elementary schools, all in Elgin.

Other benefits include exercise and increased self-esteem, Askins said.

Plus, Russell said, gardening is “a great stress reliever. It’s a great way to get away from your phone for a while.”

For the rest of the story, read Native Medicinal Garden latest in Elgin’s blooming network (Sun-Times Media).

Photo credit: Michael Smart for Sun-Times Media.