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Garden constructed at county building

Published: Tuesday, May 20, 2014 9:18 p.m. CST • Updated: Wednesday, May 21, 2014 9:27 p.m. CST
(Heidi Litchfield –
Zachary Miner plays in the dirt in the Teaching and Healing Community Garden at the Grundy County Administration Building on Saturday morning after volunteers frol LyondellBasell set up the structures.
(Heidi Litchfield –
Coal City resident Marie Beeskow looks at the flowers that will be planted in the Teaching and Healing Community Garden at the Grundy County Administration Building on Saturday as she saw volunteers take her dream of a bench and flower beds to and create an entire garden.

MORRIS – Flowers and vegetables will grow outside the Grundy County Administration Building this summer in the Teaching and Healing Community Garden, thanks to the idea from Coal City resident Marie Beeskow.

“I mentioned to my counselor about two years ago how it would be nice to have a bench and flowers outside the front door, so we could hold therapy outside instead of always in her office,” Beeskow said.

Beestow has been in counseling for five years and said no matter what the weather is, she has to sit in an office with no windows for her sessions.

Her counselor took the idea to the Grundy County Public Health administrator at the time, but it didn’t go anywhere until Phil Jass, the current administrator for the health department, started and heard about the idea.

He said when he heard about it last August, he started looking into how to make it work.

“I said there has to be a reason we do this,” Jass said. “It has to be accessible to everyone.”

He said the health department focuses on metabolic health, mental health, substance abuse, cardiovascular health and childhood obesity, and a healing and teaching garden could be something that would be used in all aspects of its focus.

He said Women, Infants, and Children program patients will be able to learn about nutritious foods and take some home with them after their appointment.

Local seniors and students will be able to come in and tend to the gardens, and they’ve partnered with We Care of Grundy County to harvest and distribute some of the food.

LyondellBasell chose the project as part of its annual Global Care Day event Saturday where about 93 people showed up to put the planters in place, fill them with dirt and get the plants in the soil.

“It’s our 15th year participating in our Global Care Day,” LyondellBasell spokesman Brent Connett said. “It’s great to help out the health department and support what they are doing.”

Global Care Day encourages employees to participate in community service projects. Each participating LyondellBasell site selects a project aligned with one of the company’s community relations focus areas: health, education and environmental stewardship, according to a news release.

LyondellBasell engineer Ahmed Hayek said the group designed and constructed the 10 raised beds at the Morris facility and had them delivered for the Saturday morning event.

“I really like this project, it compliments what we do. I like engineering and we like building things,” he said. “The impact it will have on the community to have a teaching and healing garden is a positive outcome.”

Jass said it isn’t as simple as it looks to not only create, but maintain the garden.

“It’s very complex, we need to put a system in place,” he said. “We are still looking for community partners.”


If you are interested in helping with the Teaching and Healing Community Garden, you can attend an informational meeting at 12:30 p.m. or 6 p.m., May 28 at the Grundy County Administration Building, 1320 Union St., Morris.

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