New welcome center, third annual Perfect Pairings event on the horizon for Unity Gardens

SOUTH BEND, Ind.—2020 is already bringing big things for South Bend’s Unity Gardens.

“I actually just got word that we will have a record turn-out this year for Perfect Pairings,” said Executive Director Sara Stewart on Tuesday.

Unity Gardens, for the third time, is partnering with Ivy Tech’s Hospitality Administration Program to host its “Perfect Pairings” event that benefits both groups.

“The students get engaged in what it feels like to put on an event, create all different kinds of hors d'oeuvres, and actually serve them. In addition, Citywide Liquors is coming and behind the scenes we get to do pairings,” Stewart said. “This year we’re even adding a whole coffee booth from Zen Café.”

The event is set for Thursday, February 6 at Aloft Hotel at 111 N. Main Street in South Bend. Ticket sales will benefit both Unity Gardens and Ivy Tech.

Guests will receive passports that they will get stamped as they try the “perfect pairings.”

Stewart said that community involvement garden’s mission is what keeps it going.

“Without everyone being on board with things in the community that support nonprofits and places we want to live, none of us could survive,” Stewart said.

Up next for the nonprofit is its brand-new welcome center.

“It’s been three years in the making,” Stewart said. “The welcome center is ready to sprout!”

Electrical work is about to start on the building at 3701 Prast Boulevard. Once completed, along with other infrastructure projects, Stewart hopes the community, along with garden volunteers, will come out to finish it up.

“What we don’t want to do is go in and just author the whole thing; we want to slowly let the community help create the spaces like the indoor/outdoor market, the kitchen, and classroom,” Stewart said.

Once completed, the community center will host classes, serve as a community gathering space, offer an indoor market, and more.

Also coming in 2020, the Unity Gardens has plans to launch its “Edgy Veggie” initiative, which will involve a vehicle that brings garden activities to local kids who may not be able to make it out to the community gardens.

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