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Addition to let ISU highlight new gardens

Addition to let ISU highlight new gardens

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NORMAL - The planned Constitution Trail extension will give Illinois State University a chance to show off a new agriculture department project that will bring a variety of gardens to land in north Normal.

Eventually the 10 acres between the north end of the ISU Golf Course and Raab Road will be home to children's, literary, native and perennial gardens and a horticulture center for ISU students and the community.

Jessica Chambers, coordinator of the project, said students started some projects this summer, including sun and shade perennial gardens, a zinnia research plot, an acre of sunflowers and an acre of pumpkins, gourds and squash.

The community will have a chance to see the initial work at a fall festival in October.

"We want to let people know we're here," she said.

More garden beds will be planted next year, Chambers said.

The goal is to have the horticulture center, which will include classrooms, offices, laboratories, greenhouses and several gardens, up and running in five years.

"We will have production-style greenhouses and grow plants on a production scale," Chambers said. "We want to take every opportunity we can to get students involved."

Land for the horticulture center was given to the agriculture department when the ISU farm moved to Lexington. The center will be home to horticulture students and biology students who deal with plants.

"With Heartland (Community College's) 90 acres of green space and the 10 acres at the horticulture center, we'll have more than 100 acres by the trail," she said. "It will be a destination."

The horticulture center plan includes a path between the planned Constitution Trail and the center, a raised walkway around a pond and a path through an area with variety of viburnum trees.

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