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  • Writer's pictureThe Hambrick Foundation

THF helps to fund a central Illinois-based accessible garden for special needs students

A Pekin, Illinois school will soon be home to an accessible garden due in part to grant funds received from The Hambrick Foundation. 

THF grant funds will go toward creating an accessible garden at Schramm School in Pekin, Illinois

"All students ages 3-22 at Schramm Educational Center and Rogers Academy will benefit from this project," Anne Risen, Special Education Coordinator at Tazewell-Mason Counties Special Ed Cooperative, wrote in the grant application. "The accessible garden will become part of academic, vocational and functional curriculum during the regular school year & extended school year programs as well as integrated into community-based instruction."

Funds from the Hambrick Foundation will allow the purchase of wood and hardware for raised garden bed construction, fencing supplies, plants & seeds, tomato/cucumber cages, and tools for planting, weeding, irrigating, and harvesting. Risen has teamed up with local farmer, Evan Barry from Down River Farm to help enhance the garden, which is located at Schramm Educational Center.  

“Since 2017, we have taken steps to enrich our students’ education through gardening,” Risen said. “Funds from the Hambrick Foundation will allow us to expand our functional life skills programming, enhance our reading, math, science and vocational curricula while providing valuable outdoor, fine/gross motor, communication and sensory experiences for our students.”

The project was also supported in 2020 with funds from the East Peoria Kiwanis Club, which went toward the garden's concrete foundation and plumbing for a water source. With the contribution from THF, the garden will continue to thrive and provide a learning environment for the school.

"Our students and staff will benefit by building a garden from the ground up and observing the growth of their plants," Risen said. "We can then utilize the produce and herbs to make various products such as salsa, jelly, and/or herb mixes, which could evolve into a business opportunity for greater community outreach."

Risen hopes to have the raised garden beds and fencing complete this spring and plans to begin planting, growing and harvesting throughout spring, summer and fall of 2024.

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