Growing with Enos Park Neighborhood Gardens

Last year the Enos Park Neighborhood Gardens, located at 1022 N. Fifth St. in Springfield, generated 1,200 pounds of fresh produce, which was shared with Kumler Outreach Ministries, Intricate Minds (a nonprofit that promotes harm reduction) and the local community. Now in its 12th year, the garden is a partnership between Kumler Outreach Ministries and the Enos Park Neighborhood Improvement Association.

Carey Smith serves as garden manager on behalf of Kumler Outreach Ministries. Clearly her job is a labor of love, and the garden is having a big impact. Volunteers are essential to make it possible. The "gardens" include a 1,000-square-foot communal garden with raised beds, individual garden plots available for a fee of $10/year, a pollinator garden, U-pick strawberry patch, fruit trees and a children's garden. None of the produce is sold. Everyone is welcome to volunteer and take home fresh, organic produce. Public hours are 9-11 a.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Volunteers receive the first pick of the harvest, and produce is also donated. The Tuesday harvest is donated to Kumler's food pantry and the Thursday harvest donated to Intricate Minds. There is a free farmers market 10-11 a.m. every Saturday from June through August.

The garden is in the heart of the Enos Park neighborhood on land owned by Kumler Outreach Ministries. Previously the property was the site of three dilapidated apartment buildings. The garden is an attractive place for neighbors to gather and socialize, learn about gardening, reap the benefits of growing fresh produce and help others. It is also an active site for educational programs for kids.

click to enlarge Growing with Enos Park Neighborhood Gardens
Photo by Karen Witter
Mayor Misty Buscher with a participant in the Kids Fare Garden Club, picking raspberries.
To help celebrate Pollinator Week, June 17-23, Springfield Mayor Misty Buscher visited the Kids Fare Garden Club on June 18. She donated some gardening gloves and joined a group of children in planting seeds of milkweed and other plants that attract pollinators. The City of Springfield, Division of Waste and Recycling, donated the seed packets and coloring books for the kids. Alana Reynolds of Grow Springfield leads the Kids Fare Garden Club and "Eat A Rainbow" educational classes for school-aged children. The classes meet at the garden 10-11 a.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays with hands-on garden time before the classes from 9:30 to 10 a.m. Classes meet on colorful picnic benches under the shade of a big tree.

Other collaborations are evident. SIU School of Medicine provided grant funding for raised beds for the children's garden. A small shed is colorfully painted with butterflies, trees, flowers and inspirational messages in memory of Emma Shafer, a young community activist. A grant from the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln was used to expand production of fruit, including fruit trees and berries. The prairie area is the result of a partnership with the Sierra Club. Recently, Aetna awarded a $25,000 grant to provide wheelchair-accessible raised beds and paths.

There is a new mural on the grounds featuring a monarch butterfly and plants that attract bees and butterflies, designed to tie in with the new large-scale mural now being created at the entrance to the Kidzeum in downtown Springfield. These are part of the Route 66 Monarch Flyway. The project was initiated by Leah Wilson, executive director of the Kidzeum. Maire Schaver, an art teacher at Harvard Park Elementary School, was the creative director for the mural. She engaged children from the Kids Fare Garden Club to help paint the mural alongside volunteers from the Kidzeum.

For more information about the Enos Park Neighborhood Garden, children's classes and how to volunteer, contact [email protected] or go to

New Monarch Mural at the Kidzeum

A beautiful new mural adorns the walls at the entrance to Kidzeum on Adams Street in downtown Springfield. Created by the nationally acclaimed painter and science illustrator, Jane Kim, the mural is the first Midwest installation in her national series, the Migrating Mural. The Monarch Migrating Mural focuses on the iconic and threatened monarch butterfly. The mural tells the story of the monarch life cycle along with a colorful representation of pollinator habitat. In comparison to the scale of the mural, visitors are the size of a monarch.

Amidst the devastation from the June 19 fire on Adams Street, this new mural, designed to tie in with the Route 66 Monarch Flyway and made possible by a grant from DCEO and local supporters, is a source of beauty and inspiration.

Karen Ackerman Witter

Karen Ackerman Witter started freelance writing after a 35-year career in state government holding various senior leadership positions. Prior to retiring she was associate director of the Illinois State Museum for 14 years. She is the past president of the Kidzeum Board of Directors and is an active volunteer...

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