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YWCA to Expand Urban Farming Initiative

The YWCA said the program will help empower local women.

Colorado based CoBank recently announced that it will contribute $34,000 over the next three years to help the YWCA Evanston/North Shore to support an expansion of their urban farming initiative.

The urban farm started in the spring of 2009, when the YWCA built a small raised bed vegetable and herb garden to grow fresh produce for Mary Lou’s Place, their domestic violence shelter for women and children.

The Evanston-based urban garden is a helpful tool to empower women, according to YWCA Evanston/North Shore Communications Director Julie McBratney.

"The women tend the garden and harvest vegetables and herbs for their meals," McBratney told Patch. "They cook their own meals each night, and once a week, the have a lesson in healthy cooking from a local caterer who volunteers her time. In the process, they are learning more about nutrition for themselves and their children and gaining self-sufficiency."

She said the program is a part of the nutrition and health educational program which is part of the YWCA's domestic violence services.

McBratney said the garden is primarily cared for by volunteers, and that in the growing season it features a variety of vegetables and herbs.

She said the center doesn't currently sell any of the vegetables, though it is an option they are looking into as the garden expands.

President and CEO of the YWCA Evanston/North Shore Karen Singer said the concept of growing food and educating women is a powerful combination.

“We are so grateful to CoBank for their partnership in catalyzing this creative and innovative new project," Singer said.

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