Joined by Mayor Peloquin of Blue Island who hosted the Harvest Festival, President Preckwinkle spoke to a large crowd assembled at the Tommie Brown Sports Association in Blue Island, to kick-off the creation of the Cook County Urban Agricultural Network. Both President Preckwinkle and Mayor Peloquin urged those in attendance to learn about urban agriculture, as well as the community building and health benefits which come from such networking. Maria Saldaña, Bureau Chief for Cook County Economic Development, spoke about partnering with other municipalities throughout suburban Cook County, the importance of community gardens and that a website has been created to further link information to the public about their work.
Many partners were in attendance with exhibits, including the Field Museum, the University of Illinois Extension Program, representatives from the Blue Island area and local government, the County Departments of Environmental Control and Public Health. Partner workshops included: Planning a Heritage Garden; Keeping Your Harvest Fresh; Honey Bees & Beekeeping; and Tree Preservation. Chef Kocoa of Kocoa’s Kitchen and author of Cooking with Kocoa prepared delicious, seasonal recipes using local ingredients. A “Kids Corner” was also set up to educate youth on community gardens, worm composting and planting seedlings.
The Cook County Bureau of Economic Development looks forward to more events of this type with our partners, in the future.