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Article in St. Paul Pioneer Press, Aug. 19

  • Subject: [cg] Article in St. Paul Pioneer Press, Aug. 19
  • From: "Diane Dodge" dianefaydodge@hotmail.com
  • Date: Sun, 20 Aug 2006 10:54:54 -0500

Hi Folks,

Just sending you the "skinny" from the St. Paul side of the Mississippi.....those Minneapolitans are sure to follow suit!

CGers from both sides of the river got together under the vines in the outdoor patio of the Black Forest Inn (Minneapolis) when the Parade was finished to hoist a few mugs in celebration of a very successful day.....and the beginning of an annual tradition!! Please read on:

Green thumbs
Tour set to showcase the nature of area community gardens.
Parade of Community Gardens
The worst fear of community gardeners is that the land they've worked and come to love will be taken for a different use. That's what happened this year to people who grew vegetables and flowers at Farm in the City's big Jimmy Lee garden at the corner of Lexington and Concordia avenues in St. Paul.

The city's Parks and Recreation Department plans to build soccer, football and baseball fields on the land by 2008, according to city parks director Bob Bierscheid. First, it's building a large addition on the Jimmy Lee Recreation Center north of the garden. But moving the garden doesn't mean city support is declining.

"We want to expand both vegetable and floral gardens; they're part of Blooming St. Paul," says Bierscheid. "Mayor (Chris) Coleman has asked us to keep moving on it, and there's money in the 2007 budget for the gardening program."

In April, the parks department helped move the community garden two blocks west to public land at North Griggs Street and Concordia Avenue. It relocated trees, removed grass, tilled the soil and installed water mains. Renamed Dunning Community Garden, the garden has 80 individual plots that people can rent for $10. Together with the nearby Farm in the City Children's Garden, it's on today's Parade of Community Gardens (see box for details).

Lam Le, a farmer who emigrated from Vietnam 10 years ago, was watering a thriving patch of squash when I visited last week. Le, who lives in a nearby high-rise apartment, says he likes to farm and grows food for himself, his children and grandchildren. Besides leeks, melons, squash and white radishes, he's growing Vietnamese cucumbers, which are much larger than the ones usually grown here.

Larrie Peterson was harvesting corn  not just any corn, but 'Kandy Korn,' a hybrid sweet corn.

"It's the best corn ever made," says Peterson, a St. Paul resident who used to farm in Hayfield in southern Minnesota. "You know how to cook sweet corn?" he asked. "You put the corn in cold water and when it starts boiling, it's done. Then right to the table."

Peterson, who's also growing tomatoes, melons, cabbage, peppers and onions, says he gives away much of his produce. He shared some 'Kandy Korn,' which I cooked by his method. Tender, sweet, delicious!

The garden brings together people from many backgrounds and ethnic groups, says Martha Benda, acting director of Farm in the City. Included are a young woman who has introduced her little sister from Big Brothers/Big Sisters to gardening, a couple struggling with unemployment and underemployment, and a senior citizen who lost his garden when he moved to a high-rise. There's a Roman Catholic nun, a high school student and her mother and a couple expecting a baby who want affordable organic food. Two plots are worked by inner-city children participating in Arts Us, a program combining arts and gardening.

Like the old garden, this one's strictly organic, meaning gardeners are not allowed to use chemical fertilizers or pesticides. The soil was heavily amended with a blend of compost, sand and black dirt before planting. To help control insect pests, children in the Farm in the City summer program release ladybugs.

Farm in the City is a nonprofit agency that operates five organic gardens in the heart of St. Paul. Besides the Dunning and children's gardens, there's a labyrinth on the adjacent Concordia University campus, a farm garden near Hamline Avenue and Interstate 94 and a community garden at Highland Park High School. Last year, the 10-year-old organization won two awards for community vegetable gardening: a Golden Bloom Award from the city and the St. Paul Garden Club award from the Minnesota State Horticultural Society.

In the farm garden, gardeners grow small fruits, herbs and vegetables for Farm in the City's community-supported agriculture program. People in the community buy shares in the organic garden and receive a box of vegetables and flowers weekly. Among the gardeners is a group of deaf Hmong men. Kor Thor, who has a slight hearing impairment, helps the men communicate with others. The men also have plots in the community garden.

"You can tell their gardens," says Benda. "They build trellises of scrap wood and sticks for their cucumbers and beans. They tend to have a gully in the middle. It creates a raised bed, which helps with drainage and makes it easy to get at their plants."

While I was visiting, Kor Thor brought his two little girls to the children's garden behind Dunning Recreation Center. The garden is designed to instruct and delight with native perennials, plants that attract birds, herbs, fruits and a plot with vegetables for salads.

The children's garden is integral to Farm in the City's summer programs for kids. There's a culinary camp where kids learn the connection between the soil, the food they grow and what they cook and eat. A photo camp emphasizes nature photography, and a program called Harvesting the Imagination combines art, gardening, cooking and environmental stewardship.

"One of our gardeners says community gardening calms a neighborhood," Benda comments. "Studies have shown community gardening helps bring down crime. It's partly because there are people in the neighborhood day and evening. The garden makes the neighborhood more beautiful, and residents walking past see people of different ethnic backgrounds together. It's a meaningful and natural way to bring people together."

Marge Hols is a Master Gardener with the University of Minnesota Extension Service. You can contact her at dmhols@comcast.net.

This week's checklist

Rescue a tree. Trees on many St. Paul boulevards are showing signs of distress from drought such as leaves turning color or dropping. Give trees near your property a long, slow drink of water by running a hose at a trickle over the roots for several hours.

Harvest onions and garlic as foliage begins to die back. Continue picking tomatoes, cucumbers and corn.

Pull weeds from the garden and deadhead spent flowers before they go to seed.

Parade of Community Gardens
What: New self-guided tour. Highlights community gardens, which beautify neighborhoods, educate, produce food and provide opportunities for cross-cultural and intergenerational activities.

When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today.

Where: 63 gardens in St. Paul, West St. Paul and Minneapolis

Information: No charge. Sponsored by Gardenworks, a new metrowide program serving community gardeners. Maps and list of all gardens at www.gardenworksMN.org or see www.farminthecity.org.

St. Paul community gardens on the tour:

 St. Anthony Park Community Garden, 96 flower and vegetable plots. Robbins Street and Raymond Avenue.

 Churchill Community Garden, perennials and ornamental grasses. Como Park at intersection of Horton Avenue, Van Slyke Avenue and Churchill Street.

 Midway Green Spirit Garden, vegetable gardens. Pierce Butler Route and North Hamline Avenue.

 Horton Park Community Garden, mini-arboretum and native plant garden. North Hamline Avenue and Englewood Avenue

 Eleanor Graham Community Garden, 30 vegetable plots. 1335 Ashland Ave., intersection Hamline Avenue and Ayd Mill Road.

 Mulch (Macalester Urban Land and Community Health), student vegetable garden. 125 S. Snelling Ave., west of Macalester College field house.

 Farm in the City Dunning Community Garden, 80 vegetable plots. Concordia Avenue and North Griggs Street.

 Farm in the City Children's Garden, flower and vegetable garden. 1221 Marshall Ave., north of Dunning Recreation Center, 651-641-8831, www.farminthecity.org.

 Redeemers Arms Garden, vegetable garden. 313 N. Dale St. at Carroll Avenue (follow orange signs to back parking lot).

 Swede Hollow Cafi Gardens, children's garden, rain garden. 721 E. Seventh St.

 Phalen Village Community Garden of District 2, 53 vegetable plots. 1530 Maryland Ave.

 Garden of Good Hearts, flower garden. Congress Street and South Wabasha Street.

 Youth Farm and Market  West Side Farm, vegetable gardens. 85 E. Page St.

 Totem Town Community Garden, vegetables, fruits and native perennials. 391 S. Winthrop St.

 Dodge Nature Center Community Garden, 35 vegetable plots. 1701 Charlton St., West St. Paul

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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