Contact Us

University of Illinois Extension serving Madison, Monroe and St. Clair Counties

Main Office (Monroe County)
901 Illinois Avenue
PO Box 117
Waterloo, IL 62298
Phone: 618-939-3434
FAX: 618-939-7708
Hours: Monday - Friday 8 am to 4:30 pm (Closed 12 - 1pm)

Branch Office (Madison County)
1 Regency Plaza
Suite 200
Collinsville, IL 62234
Phone: 618-344-4230
FAX: 618-344-5602
Hours: Monday - Friday, 8 am to 4:30 pm - Closed 12 Noon to 1:00

EFNEP Training Center
1269 North 89th Street
Suite 3
East St. Louis, IL 62203
Phone: 618-397-4973
FAX: 618-397-8823
Hours: Monday - Friday 8 am to 4:30 pm (Closed 12 - 1pm)

East St. Louis Library Office
5300 State St.
East St. Louis, IL 62203

Scott Air Force Base Youth Center
4691 Patriots Drive
Scott Air Force Base, IL 62225
Phone: 618-256-4991
Hours: This office is only for Military 4-H Youth Programming

News Release

Ten Steps to Successful Community Gardens

Community gardens can turn stark vacant lots into productive keystones in a community. The reasons for starting community gardens are varied, and the rewards are numerous. However, various pitfalls can turn noble intentions into negative neighborhood drama. Proper planning, excellent communication, simple rules, and basic garden knowledge all help reduce these problems.

Here are ten steps to successful community gardening.

  1. Organize first and early. Ideally, this should be done a minimum of six months before the garden season begins. Talk to local groups with existing community gardens and begin discussions with interested people and organizations.
  2. Form a planning committee. This group of committed well-organized people will work to find funding and partners, create garden rules and guidelines, identify resources, find a garden site, and much more.
  3. Define the mission and goals of your garden. Put them in writing and include both short and long term goals.
  4. Identify all resources. Evaluate the gardening skills of your committee members and identify those that can serve as garden mentors. Create a list of necessary supplies and materials, and create a budget. Determine if funding or donations are needed for tools, seeds, plants, soil, etc. Membership and plot fees or sale of produce can help make a garden self-supporting.
  5. Identify a sponsor, such as a park, church, neighborhood associations, or health center, to help with funding, land, tilling, and other expertise.
  6. Select a site. Be sure to choose a location with at least six hours sun, water availability, easy and safe access, and quality soil without contaminants. Get it in writing!
  7. Prepare site and create a design. Have the soil tested for nutrients and heavy metals. Determine plot sizes and types of pathways, as well as locations for tool storage and compost.
  8. Develop rules and guidelines. Put in writing and include gardeners in their development.
  9. Initiate regular communication. Possibilities include regular meetings, educational programs, social media, email, phone trees, newsletters, and such.
  10. Celebrate success. Share harvest baskets with sponsors and neighbors. Host harvest parties, recipe exchange, or tomato tasting. And, include local media to help get the word out.For information about vegetable production, register for the ABC’s of Community Gardening on April 28 from 9:00 a.m. to noon at the University of Illinois Extension office, 1 Regency Plaza Drive, Suite 200, Collinsville. The program will share tips for growing warm season vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. We will also discuss composting. The program cost is $10/person. Register online at or call 618-344-4230.The University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener Helpline is also available to answer your gardening questions. The Collinsville Helpline is available Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to noon at 618-344-4230.If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in any event listed in this news release, contact your local Extension office. University of Illinois Extension provides equal opportunities in programs and employment.University of Illinois Extension · U.S. Department of Agriculture · Local Extension Councils Cooperating

Source: Rhonda J. Ferree, Extension Educator, Horticulture ,

Local Contact: Sarah Ruth, Program Coordinator, Horticulture and Natural Resources,