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WNIJ's summary of news items around our state.

A 'Toddler Garden' Is Coming To DeKalb

The DeKalb County Community Gardens isn't just about food. They also have a hand in a new collaboration called The Basics Toddler Garden Project. Spokesperson Jackie DiNatale said the garden in Welsh Park will be for kids up to age five -- and their caregivers -- and fits in with the overall DCCG mission.

"Included in the plans for the toddler garden are raised garden beds, just like we do in other community gardens," she said. "So in the spring, they will be planted and become a community garden for that neighborhood."

DiNatale said that 80% of brain growth occurs in the first five years of life.

"The Toddler Garden," she said, "is designed to promote optimal brain development in engaging, entertaining ways that are outdoors."

DiNatale said many community leaders worked together to make this project happen.

"The DCCG worked with Basics DeKalb County, the DeKalb Park District, University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners and the DeKalb County Regional Office of Education to help design a garden that is multifaceted," she said. "There are several components of this park that will benefit the community."

The garden will also feature a splash pad and basketball courts. Hands-on features will include:

  • sensory and an edible garden
  • musical flower sculptures
  • obstacle paver path
  • seating for story and reading times.
Credit Jenna Dooley

DiNatale said the grand opening is May 22, 2021, but parts of the garden are already open, including the "selfie station."

"So feel free to go out there," she said, "and check out the garden and share your selfies with Basics DeKalb County on Facebook. That is also where you can get more information about upcoming events.

DiNatale said this January there will be a "make your own pine cone  bird feeder" event at the site. A weeklong community planting party is scheduled for May 15-21. Welsh Park is located at 651 Russell Road in DeKalb.