Ray and Nettie's garden lives onTalk to anyone who knew the Buschenas and they’ll tell you about Ray and Nettie’s garden. It was on the south side of their house, just outside of Two Harbors. A farmer in his earlier days, Ray was well-known for his green thumb and his large garden that was the envy of his neighbors. “It’s something they were both into,” neighbor and friend Naomi Reiland said.
By: LaReesa Sandretsky, Lake County News Chronicle
Talk to anyone who knew the Buschenas and they’ll tell you about Ray and Nettie’s garden. It was on the south side of their house, just outside of Two Harbors. A farmer in his earlier days, Ray was well-known for his green thumb and his large garden that was the envy of his neighbors.
“It’s something they were both into,” neighbor and friend Naomi Reiland said.
Ray passed away last summer, two years after Nettie, but thanks to a garden that bears their name at Shepherd of the Lake Lutheran Church in Two Harbors, their love for all things green lives on.
Pastor Kirk Schield and his wife Beth began cultivating the idea for a garden years ago, but finding the money and labor to support it was always a barrier. Then, a generous benefactor donated some money to the church, and told Pastor Schield to use it for a hands-on project for the kids.
“It was our seed money,” Schield said—pun intended.
After the monetary donation, things started rolling. They sectioned off a piece of church property for the garden and purchased materials for a fence. Schield asked his youth group, Christ Kids, to help with labor and numerous church members came forward to donate their time. Louisiana-Pacific donated mulch and trim to build raised beds.
After church members and kids worked together to prepare the soil, “Farmer Doug” entered the equation. Duluth-based farmer, Doug Hoffbauer, and his wife Lois, recently began a nonprofit, Growing for a Cause. They started seedlings and are giving them to anyone who pledges to donate the crops to a local food shelf. Schield heard about the program and contacted Lois.
“She said, ‘That’s exactly what we want. Come and get them,’” Schield said.
When the weather warmed, seeds and seedlings were planted and as of late June, there were seven kinds of vegetables growing in the dark soil, organically fertilized by another church member’s donation.
Most of the garden was constructed, planted and will be maintained by the eight Christ Kids, and Schield said they are already showing great interest in the project.
“The kids really went to town. They’ve gotten their hands dirty,” he said, and in addition, they’re fostering new friendships by interacting with older church members – the age range for gardeners is nine-90.
Charles Schroeder, a church member for six years, has also given a great deal of time to the garden, in addition to tending two gardens at his own home. He was a close friend of the Buschenas.
“I figured, if you’re able to do something, you should do it,” Schroeder said.
While the kids are learning how to plant seeds, water the plants and pull weeds, Schroeder said there are some life lessons in the dirt, too. The kids will work hard to keep the garden healthy, but in the end, Mother Nature will control the outcome.
“All we’ve got to do in life is try the best we can,” Schroeder said.
The church plans to donate most of its crop to the food shelf in Two Harbors, but Schield said they will invite community members to help with the harvesting and take home some fresh produce, too.
“The idea is to have them be a part of it,” he said.
If there is leftover produce, Schield said they will sell the vegetables at Two Harbors’ weekly Farmer’s Market and use the proceeds for more youth programming.
Reiland said a garden is the perfect way to memorialize the Buschenas—in fact, she plans to create a garden in her own yard in memory of the couple. They came to her home to introduce themselves shortly after she moved in, and remained close friends over the years.
“They were the type that you wish most people in your neighborhood were,” Reiland said. “They were very rare.”
To find out more about the garden or to help out, call the church at 834-5345.