The late Marie Wilkinson will be honored...
Aurora food pantry to debut Veterans Victory Garden
AURORA, Ill., April 23, 2022 — Aurora’s Marie Wilkinson Food Pantry will unveil a Veterans Victory Garden at the pantry’s community garden, at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 7, at 835 Highland Ave. in Aurora.
Pantry director Diane Renner said the public is invited. Parking is free.
According to Renner, the event will celebrate passage of Ill. House Bill 2894 that designates the first Saturday in May as Veterans Gardening Day. Terry Prince, director of the Illinois department of Veterans’ Affairs, will speak. A special celebration is planned to honor the 113th birthday of the late Marie Wilkinson, pantry founder and Aurora civil rights advocate
The pantry transformed a half-acre lot that once was occupied by five houses into a community garden that grows produce donated to the pantry. Charity Blooms, an Aurora nonprofit, has managed the garden since 2018, calling it an urban farm homestead.
Garden members each have their own plots. Members partner to help care for common areas. Seasoned local gardeners, farmers and University of Illinois Extension educators are guest advisers
The property includes a 500 square-foot greenhouse, solar power, a large outdoor kitchen, entertainment space with seating for 32, an aviary, a monarch butterfly education area, pollinator gardens with bee hotel, self-paced activities and automated composting. Volunteers teach gardening classes for all ages, host private gatherings and public events.
Garden manager Rob Vaughn said he and two friends founded Charity Blooms to help others by starting a non-profit farm. He said, “Today, we manage multiple properties across Aurora. Our goal is to provide free, fresh produce to our community. We have no paid staff or experience in agriculture. Just a passion for helping others.
“Visit Charity Blooms at www.charityblooms.org or email email@example.com for more inform.
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Al Benson is an Aurora-based freelance photo-journalist. He is currently an archives research specialist at Aurora University. His work has appeared in The Voice, The Daily Herald, The Beacon-News, and the Chicago Tribune.