6/22/2017 2:43:00 PM Community gardens are hubs for learning-while-growing, says Master Gardener programmer
Lindstrom Community Garden is full of vegetable plants and many containers dedicated to individual species. It’s on city owned land about a block south of city hall. Inquire with city staff about reserving a plot for a fee, or stop and chat with gardeners whenever they’re present.
For being in a state with weather that supports outdoor gardening maybe 30 percent of the year-- Chisago County’s Master Gardener program is enjoying strong growth and interest. Extension Service program representative and local Master Gardener coordinator Sue Humble, says in 2016 there were 2,200 hours dedicated locally by Master Gardeners. They held classes that were filled to capacity, they educated the public at area community gardens, they write a column for area newspapers and contribute much more.
Humble said the program has 30 members (four newbies are in the first phase of earning the master gardener status.) She thinks part of the popularity is that people are aware of their food as directly affecting their health, plus there’s a creative aspect to planning and caring for a garden that people are drawn to.
Community Gardens are a major trend in the program, said Humble, and this could be a result of the social aspect to gardening.
There are community public gardens in North Branch, Lindstrom and Wyoming, with a new garden near Fairview Medical Center.
The Ecumen senior living and nursing home in North Branch is enhancing the community gardening experience on its campus. Humble said a neat thing at Ecumen is a bed of an old hay wagon was cut-out so gardeners can work on “raised bed style” plantings in the surrounding platform while standing. The garden can also be moved around as a wagon.
The Master Gardeners are seeing vertical gardening as the “hot topic” now. Humble said people are creating containers on walls for plantings; they are building structures or even using old box springs on which to grow dozens of plant varieties or they are putting gardens on fences. Tending to a vertical vegetable crop or flowering plants saves your knees and gets the plants up off the ground. Of course there are some plants that won’t work (think full sized watermelon) but Humble said it’s amazing how nature adjusts to vertical growth.
Master Gardeners also share expertise on gardening practices like drip irrigation, which is more on the environmental-friendly side of keeping a garden. “There’s so much more to our program than just a garden, it’s about water quality and awareness.”
The master gardeners’ program also coordinates donations to the local food shelves from community gardens, and last year Humble said the North Branch plots, behind the library, generated 400 pounds of produce that went to food shelves. The North Branch Lions built (are building) raised beds, with a grant through Allina, at this site.
For information see the master gardeners Chisago County website or e mail Humble at email@example.com or contact Extension offices at 651-277-0151.