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Ron Ory Community Garden Plots Site Master Plan

Ron Ory Community Garden Plots
Developing a Site Master Plan


August 12, 2022 Update:

Per the process described below, the project team developed a draft Site Master Plan, which was presented on July 28, 2022 and received by the Board of Commissioners at the August 11, 2022 meeting. The approach of receiving the Community Garden Plots Site Master Plan provides an opportunity to continue collaborating with stakeholders and gathering input, as well as further refine operations/maintenance plans and cost estimates in preparation for presenting improvements to the Park Board for review and approval as part of the annual capital budget process. 

The Site Master Plan will serve as a visionary document and guide the Park District in enhancing the Garden Plots site and programming.  In addition, the improvements identified in the Site Master Plan will be considered during the development of the Park District’s annual capital budgets and phased over several years based on priority.

Ron Ory Community Garden Plots Site Master Plan presentation slides from the July 28, 2022 Park Board meeting

Site Master Plan received at the August 11, 2022 Park Board meeting

If you have any questions or comments regarding the site master plan, please reach out to Brad Wilson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Why a Site Master Plan in 2022?

The Ron Ory Community Garden Plots provide approximately 500 plots for gardeners in the community to grow their own vegetables and flowers. Over the years, other features have been added to the site, including the Idea Gardens, a tree nursery, honey bee hives and more. In 2022, as new ideas were being proposed for further development of the Garden Plots, the Park District believed that it was important to take time to reach out to the gardeners and the community for feedback about the site as it is now and what improvements may be helpful in the future considering the space available onsite.  

Summary of the Process

With the assistance of Upland Design, Ltd., the Park District created a Site Master Plan for the Ron Ory Community Garden Plots. The plan is based on a site analysis and community input provided through interactive meetings with stakeholders and with the public and through an online survey that was also available to the public. The design team prepared concepts based on the input gathered. Following review by the Park District, the plans were presented for comments at a second public meeting. The design team then prepared a Site Master Plan with photos and sketches and a cost estimate. Following further review by the Park District, the plan will be finalized in summer 2022.

Vision Statement for the Site Master Plan

“To enhance the community gardens through maintaining existing garden plots while diversifying and improving site elements at the community gardens.”

Project Timeline

Ron Ory Community Garden Plots Stakeholder Focus Group – 6:00 p.m., April 6, 2022
Invitations were sent to Garden Plot ambassadors, Master Gardeners, several other gardening participants, neighborhood organizations and Sportsman’s Club representatives. The group discussed the site analysis and desired improvements and priorities.

First Public Meeting – 6:00-7:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 27 at the Ron Ory Community Garden Plots (Rainout location is the Knoch Park Central Maintenance Facility, 427 W. Martin Ave.) This meeting was publicized through Park District communication channels and an email invitation was sent to current garden plot users. Upland Design led an interactive process to engage the community in this meeting. Participants completed a survey during the meeting. Read the meeting press release here.

Community Online Survey – April 28 – May 6
The survey conducted during the first public meeting was made available online to gardeners and the entire community to gather input from those unable to attend the meeting. 

Conceptual Design Planning – Early to Mid-May
The design team prepared two conceptual designs based on data and public input received to date, and the Park District had the opportunity to review and comment. 

Second Public Open House – 6:00 - 7:00 p.m., Wednesday, May 18 at the Ron Ory Community Garden Plots.  The two preliminary concepts were made available for viewing and comment at the second public open house and the design team was on hand to answer questions. A digital version of the conceptual plans is now available online to gardeners and the public to gather input from those unable to attend the meeting. View the meeting press release here.

Second Community Online Survey – May 19-May 27
A digital version of the conceptual plans presented at the May 18 meeting was available online to gardeners and the public to gather input from those unable to attend the meeting. Anyone not able to attend the meeting was able to provide feedback online through May 27. 

Master Plan Preparation and Park District Review – Late May through July
Based on public input and Park District direction, the design team prepared one Site Master Plan for review and receipt by the Park District. The plan will be finalized in summer 2022.  Improvements identified in the Site Master Plan will be considered during the development of the Park District’s annual capital budget, with implementation of the plan phased over several years.

Garden Plots Site Analysis 

For more information about the Ron Ory Community Garden Plots:

View the 2022 Garden Plots FAQs
View the 2022 Garden Plots Map

Ron Ory Community Garden Plots Site Master Plan FAQs

  1. Why are no-till plots being proposed for a portion of the community garden plots?
  • During the Garden Plots Site Master Plan process the Park District received requests for these type of plots.
  1. What is no-till gardening? 
  • It’s a form of gardening where once the garden area is established, the surface is not disturbed.
  • This method does not require tilling or digging; amendments are added directly on top of the soil.
  • What are the benefits of no-till?
    • Refraining from tilling the soil avoids disrupting the physical, chemical and biological properties of the soil, thereby strengthening the soil’s microbial community. A strong microbial community processes and retains nutrients, sequesters and holds carbon, and absorbs and holds water.
  1. Where will the proposed no-till plots be located and how many will be available?    
  • We are considering placing the no-till plots in the southern portion of the first garden plots section in order to provide gardener access year-round.  In addition to providing the no-till gardening option, the no-till plots area will also provide gardeners who wish to access the plots early in the spring or remain late into the fall season with the opportunity to do so.
  • The number of no-till plots will be determined after a survey is conducted in late 2022 to determine how many garden plot renters are interested in this option, which in turn will determine the size of the area needed.  Once the area needed is known the park district will evaluate the number of existing gardeners in the identified no-till area that may be impacted by the change in order to provide alternate plot locations.
  • We are striving to offer no-till plots in 2024; doing so requires completing a number of administrative steps prior to making this option available.
  • How long will the no-till season last?
    • The no-till plots will be accessible year-round, however:
  • Several services will not be available year-round such as access to water, restrooms, landscape waste dumpsters, garbage and recycling cans.
  • Additionally, the plots may be inaccessible due to inclement weather.
  1. Do you plan to start offering soil testing at the garden plots?
  • No, the Naperville Park District does not plan to start testing the soil, since testing in one or two areas will not be representative of soil as a whole.
  • Gardeners are more than welcome to the test their plot’s soil to help them determine the type of amendments needed.
  • Soil testing kits may be purchased at local hardware stores, nurseries and online.
  1. Will the Park District start adding soil amendments like leaf litter to the soil?
  • No, we do not have the necessary machinery, staff, or time to be able to do so.
  • In addition, by not adding amendments throughout the garden plots gardeners are able to select and manage the types of amendments they want added to their plot, some of which can be selected based on the soil and types of plantings in the plot.
  • We also encourage gardeners to leave all plant material in their plots at the end of the season so that the organic material goes back into the soil and helps replenish it.
  1. Will soil amendments still be available onsite?
  • Yes, we will supply manure and leaf mulch each year based on availability.
  • However, due to supply limitations, we may not be able to replenish amendments during any given gardening season.
  • You are welcome to bring in your own amendments for your garden plot. The type of amendments you use may be determined by what you are growing.
  • Please note that recent research has shown that too much leaf mulch may not be good for your garden as it can block air and water. For more information on soil amendments visit:
  1. Will any changes be made to the water stations/spigots?
  • Per the new water surface analysis conducted by Upland Design, Ltd., adequate access to water is currently found throughout the plots with the exception of one area. (See the study here, pg. 8 -
  • Given this information, an additional water station with two spigots is recommended to be added in the vicinity of plot 3L, as part of the Site Master Plan.
  • In locations where some gardeners may have hose permits, each gardener will be required to use a hose splitter (in 2023) so they do not completely tie up one side of the water station with their hose.
  • The plan also proposes to add seating and shading to some of the water station locations, specifically in locations where the shade structure will not shade the surrounding plots.
  1. With all the new proposed improvements, will the Park District be able to open the regular plots earlier in the season?
  • In addition to the no-till area providing the opportunity for no-till gardening, the no-till plots area will also provide gardeners who wish to access the plots early in the spring or remain late into the fall season with the opportunity to do so.
  • A few years ago the park district changed the opening date to May for the regular garden plots due to the changes in the spring weather over the past several years. Cold, rainy, and even snowy weather has made access to prepare the plots challenging.
  • A lot of work goes into getting the plots ready to open. This prep work is completely dependent on the weather, precipitation and soil conditions. Prep work includes the following steps:
    • Manure and leaf mulch is collected and added to the amendment locations.
    • A local farmer disks the entire garden plot area at the beginning of each season (and plows it at the end).
    • After the farmer disks the soil, Parks staff go back and rototill the entire area so the soil is more finely pulverized.
    • Raised beds are tilled by hand and the ground around the beds is checked to make sure it is flat and accessible.
    • Parks staff lays out a grid for all the plots in each section.
    • Each plot is measured off with four flags that are placed at each corner with a white identification stake in the middle.
    • Water is turned back on, repairs made, if needed, by our Trades division and all spigots require the attachment of a short hose length.
    • Additional gravel is added to water station areas as needed, and road maintenance is performed.
    • Garbage and recycling containers are placed throughout the plot sections by Parks staff.
    • Port-o-lets and landscape dumpsters are dropped off/placed by contractors.
  1. What is the Donation Station used for? 
  • The donation station is intended as a place for Garden Plots gardeners to donate extra produce to local food pantry Loaves and Fishes.
  • Master Gardeners take this extra produce to Loaves and Fishes on a regular basis.
  • We plan to retain this donation spot, but may rotate it to face the plots, or possibly move it away from the east side parking lot.
  1. Are there opportunities to improve drainage in certain areas of the Garden Plots?
  • Over time, the park district has worked to improve drainage at the garden plots through the addition of soil, installation of culverts, as well as other grading projects.
  • Unlike ball fields, which are graded to encourage water to flow off of a field, the garden plots area is a very flat surface, which makes for easy plowing, tilling and gardening.
  • As part of the Site Master Plan, the park district will continue to evaluate storm water drainage within the plots and when possible, will make improvements including the approach of piping ponding water away from problem areas.  When improvements are made the park district will attempt to limit the impacts to existing plots.
  1. What parking lot, and access drive improvements are you proposing to make?
  • Initially, we will adjust the location of existing yard waste dumpsters to increase parking spots.
  • Parking lot maintenance, such as filling pot holes preseason and throughout the year, will occur as needed.
  • As part of the Site Master Plan, enhancements to existing parking lots and access drives is proposed.
  • The Park District confirmed that the use of permeable pavers for the proposed ADA accessible and parking lot improvements can be performed without the need to add stormwater detention at the Garden Plots and impact site amenities. 
  • Some additional signage will be created to define parking and non-parking areas.
  1. What is going to happen to the tree nursery on the north side?
  • These trees will be relocated to Naperville Park District parks.
  1.  Are you going to add more garbage/waste disposal cans for cleanup at the end of the gardening season?
  • Yes, we will add more garbage/waste disposal cans for cleanup at the end of the season.
  • However, please note: We encourage you to leave all plant material in your plot at the end of the season. After the gleaning, this vegetation will be mowed down and then tilled, which helps to replenish the soil.
  • The only items that need to be removed at the end of the season are gardening tools, fencing, tomato cages, landscaping cloth, etc.
  1. Will there be more port-o-lets placed at the Garden Plots?
  • Yes, a third ADA port-o-let was already added for the 2022 season.
  • A fourth ADA port-o-let will be added for the 2023 season.
  1. Will overhanging branches or invasive plants be removed or trimmed back around the edges of the plots?
  • Yes, our parks staff started this process in 2022.
  1. Will more raised garden plots be available in the future?
  • Yes, the Site Master Plan proposes the addition of several more raised beds.
  1. Do you offer informational classes or workshops on gardening for beginners?
  • Yes, each year in April we offer a Basic Gardening Workshop and an Organic Gardening Workshop.
  • These programs are held at the Knoch Knolls Nature Center and are free, but registration is required.
  • Video recordings of both of these workshops can be found here - - under the Gardening Resources section.
  1. Will more information about gardening be added to the Garden Plots website?
  • Yes, in recent years the information below has been added to the website:
    • Video recordings of our two gardening workshops – Basic and Organic.
    • Vegetable family characteristics
    • Vegetable planting times and hardiness
    • Local soil temperatures
    • Ideal Seed Germination temperatures
    • National Weather Service climate data
  • Additional information/links will be provided in the Gardening Resources section -
  • Plus, there is a wealth of information online in general to help you garden.
  1. Will more pollinator areas be planted?
  • Additional pollinator gardens are proposed within the Site Master Plan that draw in pollinators that will benefit your plants as well.
  1. Are you going to have active honey bee hives again at the plots?
  • Yes, honeybees have been added this summer to the hives located at the west-end of the organic gardening section.


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