Planting the first beds at Sunnyside Gardens

West Bloomington is known as a food desert because many people in the community lack access to affordable fresh vegetables. Sunnyside Community Garden and Food Forest, located at the west end of Illinois Street in Bloomington, was established May 2016 by Col Connelly and Jan Turner to help combat this lack of access.

The mission of Sunnyside Community Garden and Food Forest is to provide fresh, organic produce to low-income families in West Bloomington and to facilitate learning opportunities for children and adults through gardening, harvesting, and marketing food grown on site, using sustainable practices.

Ten 5-by-20-foot beds and a 250-foot raspberry bed were planted the first year. That summer 50-plus children from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bloomington-Normal learned to plant, weed and harvest.

Over the succeeding three summers 3,000 square feet in garden beds were added as well as 70 fruit trees, an 85-foot strawberry bed and an asparagus bed. More than 100 children come to the weekly summer program! A weekly Free Market provides produce for the neighborhood. More than 1,000 pounds of vegetables are given each year to Boys & Girls Club, Home Sweet Home, Salvation Army, Center of Hope and Veggie Oasis.

Girls from Boys & Girls Clubs of Bloomington-Normal harvest produce


  • Build a hoophouse (a semi-permanent greenhouse) to provide year round growing
  • Mentor middle and high school students to develop gardening and work skills
  • Increase garden beds so that the 1.5 acres are completely utilized
  • Plant 200 more fruit and nut trees
  • Develop an apiary to sell honey, educate, and increase pollination
  • Hire a farm manager/educator

Visit Sunnyside Community Garden and Food Forest's Facebook page.

If you would like to make an online donation to the Sunnyside Community Garden and Food Forest Fund, please click on the Donate button below. If you prefer to make a donation in another manner, click here for information.