News, Union Grove

Village signs lease for community garden

By Dave Fidlin

On the heels of a recent discussion about extending the municipal water system to 8th Avenue, Union Grove officials have approved a lease agreement between the village and a local group looking to make gardening more accessible.

The Village Board on June 10 approved the 5-page document, which includes a number of clauses and provisions, with the organization Union Grove Community Garden Inc.

The garden, which has been discussed in recent years, includes the placement of the garden on land immediately adjacent to Joseph Lieder Memorial Park. Terms of the agreement stipulate UGCG, as a tenant, will pay the village $1 annually to use the site.

The responsibility of paying for water utility service was one topic that bubbled to the surface during the recent board discussion.

As the endeavor lays roots this summer, officials ultimately opted to put the cost on the village – at least for this year.

“Somebody has to pay for it – if not them, then the village,” Trustee Jan Winget said as she characterized the issue that was the forefront of the recent discussion.

Trustee Jennifer Ditscheit, who chairs the village’s Recreation and Parks Committee that has been combing through the garden proposal, offered up a suggestion on how to proceed with assigning water utility costs in the future.

“Every year, we can take another look at it,” Ditscheit said.

Village Administrator Connor LaPointe said there are hopes the community garden organizers will eventually be able to have a dedicated income source as garden plots are rented out to residents and other interested people for their own use.

“Hopefully, there will be some kind of funding stream at that point,” LaPointe said, pointing to the next time the agreement is back for review.

The agreement includes a number of dos and don’ts for the organizers of the community garden, as well as the individual renters.

Based on the inherent nature of the endeavor, for instance, the organization, acting as the tenant, has the ability to disturb the designated area to carve out garden plots and install lattices, supports and other gardening structures.

Prohibitions include the use of alcohol on the premises and leaving garden waste and garbage in the general public. Hours of operation within the gardens are set at sunrise to sunset and capped at 9 p.m.

Victor Walter is one of the organizers behind the community garden. In 2022, he met with the village’s Recreation and Parks Committee to discuss his vision for the endeavor.

“The whole idea of having a community garden is to have a lot of people involved with it,” Walter said in his pitch to committee members at the time.

In addition to the hands-on, tangible aspect of growing produce in a shared space, Walter said his vision for the proposed amenity is to promote community and robust educational opportunities.

“I want to make sure we include people like veterans and senior citizens, 4-H groups and Boy Scouts and everybody in-between.” Walter said.

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