“Community gardening season gets started in southeast Como" (Minnesota Daily, 6/11/08)

posted Nov 29, 2008, 8:45 AM by Stephanie Hankerson

Community gardening season gets started in southeast Como

Subhead: Residents in southeast Como garden together for community, food and convenience
Publish Date: 
06/11/2008
Reporter: 

It's officially growing season in Southeast Como.

This month, planting, watering and weeding are picking up at community gardens near campus.

Residents are able to grow their own vegetables, admire wildflowers and meet their neighbors at community gardens in Southeast Como.

Stephanie Hankerson, the community garden organizer for the Southeast Como Improvement Association , said there are numerous benefits to community gardens, including locally grown produce and community building.

"Each garden is different." Hankerson said. "Most community gardens are food gardens, but not all."

There are several types of community gardens in Southeast Como.

OWLS VEGTABLE GARDEN

Located on Weeks Avenue Southeast , the OWLS community garden offers a space for residents to grow produce.

Unlike many community food gardens, OWLS does not require gardeners to buy or rent plots .

Judi Petkau , a doctorate. student in the College of Education and Human Development, said all the produce they grow is organic.

This year, gardeners at OWLS are growing tomatoes, corn, potatoes, turnips, and herbs, among other things, she said.

About half of the food grown at OWLS is donated to seniors living in Southeast Como .

Carolyn Clemmons , 81, said she grew up on a farm and still has her own garden, but enjoys the produce.

"I think it's beneficial, in a sense," Clemmons said.

Peter DeLong , who is finishing up his master's in social work, said OWLS has recently doubled in size and started using more rain water.

Community gardens can encourage healthy lifestyles because the produce is fresh and they take work to maintain, DeLong said.

"Those are just metaphors that translate into healthy living," he said.

ACCORD NATIVE PLANT GARDEN

The Accord Native Plant Community Garden , located in the northeast corner of Van Cleve Park, is home to a variety of plant species native to Minnesota.

Rose Steinhart, community organizer for the garden , said the location is perfect for native plants, which require less maintenance.

High traffic means plants must be resistant to damage and disease, and a tree provides shade for half of the garden, keeping it moist. Both woodland and prairie species are grown there.

"In that tiny little space, we kind of try to cover the gamut as best we can," Steinhart said.

There are prairie grass species in the garden, as well as better-known plants such as Brown-eyed Susans and Echinacea.

The Accord garden sits next to a wind-controlled sound sculpture, which gives the garden its name. The sculpture emits a low, soothing sound at noon, 3 p.m., 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. every day.

"People do take advantage of that corner, even though it's at quite a busy intersection," she said. "It's amazing how peaceful that place is."

ORNAMENTAL COMMUNITY GARDENS

Flowers and ornamental trees are grown at the Gateway Garden , which was created as a response to Sept. 11.

Located on 12th and East Hennepin avenues, this garden has played host to National Night Out celebrations and University student involvement through restorative justice programs.

The Como Corner garden, located on 22nd and Como avenues, is home to different kinds of perennials.

Hankerson said there's also talk about putting a new community garden on Talmadge Avenue near the railroad tracks.

"There are far more people wanting to grow in community gardens than there is space available," Hankerson said.

© 2008 Minnesota Daily
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