Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

October 3, 2012

Site secured for community garden

Cathy Thoele
Effingham Daily News

EFFINGHAM —     Plans for a community garden are flourishing now that a place for the garden has been found.

    Property located behind Bob’s Discount Home Improvement, formerly Bob Salvage, will be used as a place for any member of the community to garden in thanks to the Passalacqua family.

    The 15-acre property was once the home of Poss’s Produce and featured locally grown food.

    “We raised a lot of what we sold at the store right there on the ground,” said Matt Passalacqua.

     Passalacqua said after noticing land was being sought for the garden, the property seemed a perfect fit.

    “It wasn’t being used for anything. We thought it would be a great use and service to the community,” he said.

    The family believes a community garden would be a fitting tribute to the family patriarch, Larry Passalacqua, who owned the market and is now deceased.

    “We thought Dad would have liked it,” Passalacqua said.

    Passalacqua finds the timing of the garden appropriate considering the economic climate.

    “Everybody has financial troubles and having a garden is one way to cut down on grocery costs,” he said.

    The family is allowing Effingham Park District, which will operate the garden, free use of the property. The project is a joint venture between the district, University of Illinois Extension master gardeners and Effingham City Tourism Department.

    Park District Director Jeff Althoff said the project will start small and consume no more than 5 acres the first year. He hopes to begin renting out plots next spring. Rent, he added, will be cheap, covering only the cost of maintaining the garden.

    “Hopefully, it’ll be a big hit,” he said.

    Passalacqua also hopes interest in the garden grows.

    “It’s obviously something we believe in,” he said.