Danny Connolly and Marley Capper
3 mins ago
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — The state legislature has a plan to help suburban and urban residents of public housing fight food insecurity by growing their own food.
A bill passed both chambers of the legislature to launch a program with the Illinois Housing Development Authority that would help encourage public housing developments in urban and suburban areas to start community gardens.
State Senator Doris Turner (D-Springfield) sponsored the measure in the Senate. She believes gardening reduces stress and improves health, along with other benefits.
“Gardening can help households cut down on food costs,” Turner said. “Providing affordable housing units an incentive to garden allows residents to have access to nutritional foods right outside their doors.”
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Dawn Blackman works as the steward of Randolph Street Community Garden in Champaign, which feeds more than 40 families.
“Green spaces keep people calmer, getting to know your neighbor before there’s a problem helps to keep neighborhoods calmer,” Blackman said. “It’s a win-win situation, and it feeds people in a food desert.”
If signed into law, IDHA would work with University of Illinois for tips on implementing urban gardening strategies like vertical gardening and aquaponics, as well as the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to provide tools and distribute food.
Under the proposal, IDHA and DCEO officials are tasked with creating the rules for the program.
The bill would take effect immediately if Governor J.B. Pritzker signs the bill into law.