Illinois initiative is spurring growth in local food

Growing Together, Inc. (GTI) is a newly formed non-profit based in Galesburg that aims to establish and operate a local agriculture center growing foods by using and teaching sustainable growing methods. The organization is modeling itself after the legendary work of Will Allen and his world-renowned Growing Power out of Milwaukee. Peter Schwartzman, an Illinois Stewardship Alliance board member, is a founding member of GTI, and currently the secretary of its board.

Currently GTI has access to approximately three acres of fertile land in the southeastern section of Galesburg. It is also leasing three rooms in a neighboring building for use in seedling development, vermicomposting, and the building of soil block trays, bird and bat houses, and other growing-related structures. GTI plans to grow more than forty different vegetable species, eight perennial berries and fruit trees, and use the remainder for the development of a handicap accessible herb garden, an edible “weed” garden, a prairie, a children’s garden, and even a rooftop garden on one of the concrete roofs nearby. In addition, an aquaponics demonstration station will be established and, ideally, there will be more than a few bees taking residence at the urban site as well (both in humanly built hives as well as in its biologically diverse environs).

And that’s just in the first year.

In its second year of operation GTI aspires to also open operations on a twenty five acres property located about nine miles northeast of Galesburg. On this rural farm, there are plans for many varieties of livestock, a large compost station and a country vegetable store. GTI hopes to lease some of the most fertile land to enterprising Knox County residents who aspire to become small-scale vegetable farmers.

While GTI hopes to grow lots of nutritious, naturally grown food for its neighbors, it’s main thrust is to inject additional energy into the growing local food movement. GTI believes that its efforts can help improve the social, nutritional, education and economic aspects of the Galesburg community. GTI hopes to enhance personal and community self-reliance and do so in a most delicious way.

For more information about GTI, Inc., visit its, its Facebook Page (growingtogetherus), or contact them via email May 2013 be an amazingly bountiful year of growing (together).