Home Health Community gardens open up for reservations – Pipestone County Star

Community gardens open up for reservations – Pipestone County Star

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Community news and information for Pipestone, Minnesota
Monday, March 7, 2022

As the month of March rolls in, planting is on the mind of many — both farmers out in the country and gardeners within city limits.
This year, the city of Jackson is making planting a garden easy — even for those who don’t necessarily have the space.
Jackson’s community gardens are open for reservations. Six plots spread across three garden boxes are now available for gardeners in Zimmerli Park in east Jackson.
The gardens were first conceptualized in 2020, when a community survey indicated residents wanted a place to plant fruits, vegetables and herbs. An added benefit, community members suggested, was that more people could raise healthy produce locally.
“We did a survey as part of our update to the Active Living Plan and the community gardens were one of the top things people wanted to see, so we got grant funding to do them from the state and Federated Rural Electric,” said Luke Ewald, health educator with Des Moines Valley Health and Human Services, who helped spearhead the project. “The idea was to provide a space for people who didn’t have access to space for gardening at their homes.”
Last year was the inaugural year for the gardens. Anyone can reserve a plot by calling Jackson City Hall. Last year, all three plots were used.
Jackson City Administrator Matt Skaret said Zimmerli Park was chosen for two reasons — water access and a desire to boost utilization of the park.
“We know that Zimmerli Park is underutilized, and the park board felt this would be a good way to bring more people to the park,” Skaret said. “Plots are reserved on a first-come, first-served basis and people are responsible for bringing their own seeds and garden tools.”
It’s a simple system and one the city is looking to expand this year, as plans to add three more garden boxes — for a total of six more plots — are starting to take shape.
“We are looking at applying for grant funding to double the size of the gardens,” Ewald said. “If there’s interest, we’d ideally like to have multiple garden locations in different parts of the city.”
Jackson resident John Weland was one of the gardeners last year and he’s planning to do it again this year. Weland planted a variety of crops in 2021, including cucumbers, tomatoes, different peppers and herbs.
“At our new house, we really don’t have the space to garden much,” he said. “With the community gardens, we had such an abundance that we actually brought some of it down to the farmer’s market, and we donated some of the cucumbers to the local food shelf.”
Weland touted the physical and emotional benefits of gardening, along with the material results.
“As a software engineer, I sit in front of a computer all day, so being able to get out there and do something with my hands helps keep me grounded,” he said. “The garden has a water source, so the whole thing was really easy.”
Skaret said the city is hoping to see more gardeners this year, as the gardens were completed later in the growing seasons last year.
“We definitely want to get the word out that this is a community resource,” he said.
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