Community gardens are growingCommunity gardens are catching on in a big way, with all ages participating.
By: Wendy Johnson, Cloquet Pine Journal, Superior Telegram
The Moose Lake Community Garden was originally started as a Boy Scout project at the United Methodist Church in Moose Lake. Last year the garden concept expanded as a direct spinoff of focus groups that were held in the community, spearheaded by the Moose Lake Horizons group — an initiative geared toward preventing poverty in rural communities by meeting people’s basic needs.
“The Moose Lake Community Garden developed from this grassroots effort and saw its first successful year as a project that builds community,” said co-facilitator Jan Ashmore.
The garden consists of nine garden plots, eight of which were utilized last year by individuals and families for their personal needs and one of which was designated as a group plot that people volunteered to plant, care for and harvest produce to donate to the Moose Lake Area Food Shelf.
The Duluth Community Garden Program is a 32-year-old nonprofit organization with three program areas: Plant-a-Lot Community Gardens, the Cannery and Kids Gardening. Its mission is to strengthen the Duluth community and to foster self-sufficiency. Half of its community gardeners are at 200 percent of poverty level or below, according to the Web site at www.duluthcommunitygarden.org.
Currently the Duluth Community Garden program is putting names on a waiting list for plots. However, residents are still welcome to participate in the Cannery, which offers classes, equipment and information on food preservation. Kids can get involved with the youth gardening program, which offers weekly gardening activities throughout the summer to children from Kids Café, YWCA Girl Power and Upward Bound. They learn about plant care, weed and pest control and nutrition. (And they get to play in the dirt.)
The Moose Lake Community Garden committee is also currently working on developing a list of resources (books, guides and DVDs) about organic gardening, community gardens and other sustainable agriculture topics that will be purchased with resource funds available through Horizons and made available to the community.
Regular planning meetings are held year round, some including a potluck meal, garden work nights and/or educational discussion, group movie night and classes.
“The group is committed to having a completely organic garden,” Ashmore said. “Members help one another, teach one another and learn from each other.”
The original garden has now expanded as much as it can physically, but Ashmore said the garden group has been encouraging expansion of the community garden concept by encouraging schools, neighborhoods and other groups to start their own gardens.
Anyone interested is encouraged to attend the group’s meetings to gather information and guidance.
“The community garden members have benefitted not only through learning gardening techniques and producing bountiful harvests,” Ashmore said, “but the sense of community we have all gained from this experience has been amazing!”
The city of Carlton is also offering plots in a community garden for the second year in a row. The garden is located near South Terrace Elementary just south of Carlton. Each plot is 10-by-20 feet and costs $25 for the season, and the ground will be tilled and amended with water on site.
The garden will be open to residents of the city of Carlton first, and after April 15 it will be open to anyone on a first-come, first-served basis. Space is limited to 20 plots. To reserve a plot or request an informational packet, call (218) 384-4229. If you would like advice from a master gardener, call (218) 384-3511.
In Duluth, the Duluth Community Garden Program has a number of community gardens — containing about 200 plots between them — at the following locations:
• Sixth Street
Sixth Street and Eighth Avenue East
• Apple Tree Circle
72nd Avenue West and Fremont Street (near Lake Superior Zoo)
• Chester Creek
North 14th Avenue East and Ninth Street
• Cook Home
Rice Lake Road and West Arrowhead Road
North 11th Avenue West and Third Street (at old Emerson School)
• Fox Hole
910 W. Sixth St.
• Hannah House
Jefferson Street and North 17th Avenue East
North Third Avenue East and Eighth Street
Fifth Street and North Fourth Avenue East
Riverside Avenue and Industrial Avenue
• St. Scholastica
1001 Kenwood Ave.
North 14th Avenue East and Eighth Street
• Stoney Ground
North 11th Avenue East and Seventh Street
• Strawberry Hill
North Third Avenue West and 6 ½ Street
Find more information about these gardens at www.duluthcommunitygarden.org. Call 722-4583 for more information about any of the Duluth Community Garden Programs or stop by the office in the Damiano Center. If you didn’t already sign up for a plot, they will put you on a waiting list. Participants also have access to a lending library and may borrow gardening tools.
Jana Peterson and Matthew R. Perrine contributed to this story.