Common Place Receives Rainwater Sytem for Urban Ag Programs

Aug 15, 2017

Gitm Foundation Co-Director Kim Keenen demonstrates the Liquid Sunshine Rainwater Harvesting System, which her organization donated to Common Place for its urban agriculture programs.
Credit Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

A rainwater irrigation system means new opportunities for a community learning center on Peoria’s South Side. 

Common Place has provided services, like adult literacy classes, to the community for 50 years.

On Tues., the center received a rainwater collection system for its urban agriculture program.

“When you talk about bringing and harvesting all of the rainwater versus our tap water, being able to take some of these vacant lots here, you can bring business and opportunity to it,” educator Dwayne Harris said.

He led Common Place's first urban agriculture internship for teens this summer. The program includes lessons on marketing and selling products to buyers, like restaurants and grocery stores. 

"As we planted the seeds and watched our plants grow, we talked about business planning,” Harris said. 

Common Place’s new barrels collect rainwater from the downspout. When the barrels are full, they’re emptied into a larger barrel with an engine-powered irrigation system, which can be used like a hose to water plants.
Credit Cass Herrington / Peoria Public Radio

That's why the barrels partially represent new opportunities for expanding on career-related conversations next summer.  Harris says he hopes the urban ag program helps bring jobs and enterprise to the South Side. 

In additional to the educational component, the gardens also supply fresh produce for Common Place’s emergency food pantry.

“What I love is that folks don’t take more than what they need. They may take for a neighbor, which I think is really wonderful," Rumba said. "It isn’t something where this is growing and not being used.”

The new rainwater collection system is the first of several planned for community garden sites on the South Side.  It was donated by Gifts in the Moment, with a $7,500 grant from Illinois American Water.

The rain barrels also help alleviate the city's sewage overflow, which occurs when heavy rain flows into the wastewater system, causing raw sewage to run into rivers and streams.