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Tour of historic community farm project in Minnesota

  • Subject: [cg] Tour of historic community farm project in Minnesota
  • From: Don Boekelheide dboekelheide@yahoo.com
  • Date: Tue, 15 Aug 2006 19:47:36 -0700 (PDT)

Crookston Daily Times, Minnesota
Friday, August 11, 2006

Celebrate the Mount's Community Garden on Aug. 16
By Times Staff

Explore the world of community supported agriculture,
enjoy fresh locally grown foods, and meet the experts
at the Mount Saint Benedict CSA Garden open house on
Wednesday, Aug. 16 from 5 to 7 p.m. The event is free
and open to the public.

Community members of all ages are invited to tour the
13.2-acre, organic garden that despite drought-like
conditions has flourished - providing more than 35
shareholders with a plethora of summer vegetables,
fruits, and herbs. It has also offered many others the
opportunity to learn about the rewards and risks of
farming, while preserving the garden legacy at the
Mount. Attendees should gather near the back parking
lot at the Mount St. Benedict Monastery, 620 Summit
Ave., Crookston, Minn.

Tour participants will have the opportunity to
discover what it takes to manage the garden, tending
and nurturing the dozens of crops that are harvested
and delivered throughout the summer. From leeks, Swiss
chard, tomatoes, eggplants, herbs, and peppers to
lettuce, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel
sprouts, watermelon, and cantaloupe, there's a huge
variety of plants to learn about and enjoy. Some 400
pounds of cucumbers alone were harvested in late July,
and the garden boasts seven varieties of peppers, five
types of potatoes and eggplants (white, pink, and
purple), and four variants of sweet corn.

A tasting table will offer samples of melons,
cucumbers, and peppers along with some of the 23
different varieties of tomatoes, including heirloom
(old varieties), which have been brought back into
production nationwide due to their flavor, heartiness,
and low acidity. (Tomatoes have been raised in a high
tunnel environment at the garden, which helps speed
the ripening process along.)


The historic Mount Saint Benedict Garden began as a
quarter-acre plot in 1924 and grew to some 12 acres in
1955. It continued to provide fresh produce and
preserved food for the Mount community and those in
need in the community until 2003 when the sister's
were unable to continue managing the garden. The
garden was left black in 2005.

In 2006, the sister's teamed up with organic gardener
Mike Klawitter, now project manager, to bring the
garden back to life as a Community Supported
Agriculture (CSA) garden. CSA's provide community
members with the opportunity to buy memberships in a
garden and enjoy the produce that is harvested for
about 15 weeks, based on weather conditions and
availability. The Mount St. Benedict CSA hoped to
attract at least 20 members and ended up expanding the
garden to fit the demand.

Members this year include Minnesotans for Hunger
Solutions who fund shares to the North Country Food
Bank in Crookston, Minn. Excess produce is also graded
and sold to local markets including Hugo's in East
Grand Forks and Amazing Grains in Grand Forks, N.D.
Some 11 shareholders are on the waiting list for next
year. The dedication and know-how of many individuals
have ensured the success of the project.

On-site personnel include garden manager Rachel
Hextell and workers Katie Becker and Holly Schmidt.
Led by Klawitter's expertise and the Sisters of Saint
Benedict's passion for preserving a garden tradition,
the team has nurtured the garden from soil preparation
and seeding, to the trials of much-needed irrigation
and onto harvest and delivery. Research and
demonstration aspects are also built in.

The project is funded through a grant from the
University of Minnesota Regional Sustainable
Development Partnership with support from the
Community Assistance Program with the Center for Urban
and Regional Affairs (CURA) of the University of Minnesota.

The American Community Gardening Association listserve is only one of ACGA's services to community gardeners. To learn more about the ACGA and to find out how to join, please go to http://www.communitygarden.org

To post an e-mail to the list:  community_garden@mallorn.com

To subscribe, unsubscribe or change your subscription:  https://secure.mallorn.com/mailman/listinfo/community_garden

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