The City of Pine City will be constructing a new sewer and water line under the Snake River this summer. The construction will occur next to and likely in part of the Pine City Community Garden located at Challeen Park near the fishing pier at 10 SE 3rd St. in Pine City. Thus, there will be no Pine City Community Garden there this summer. Gardeners who had plots in the garden last summer were encouraged to rent plots in the Mora or the new Rush City Community Gardens for 2018.
The Community Garden Steering Committee made up of U of M Extension Pine County Master Gardeners, community gardeners and the city of Pine City met and decided to turn the lack of a community garden in 2018 into an opportunity and to use this time to reinvent the community garden to be “new and improved” for 2019, per Community Garden Coordinator and Master Gardener Carol Evans.
At Master Gardener Kim Metz’s suggestion, the committee, along with Pine City Assistant Administrator Matthew Van Steenwyk, met last month with master gardeners who manage community gardens in North Branch, Rush City, Lindstrom, Cambridge and Mora to get ideas on where to go from here. They learned how the neighboring community gardens were built, funded, increased their participation and were used for education.
Pine City Administrator Ken Cammilleri has encouraged the master gardeners and gardeners to create a wish list of what they would like to see in the garden for 2019. Some of the ideas expressed thus far include: a new, higher fence; a demonstration garden consisting of a variety of styles, sizes and heights of raised beds; new soil; a tiller; a pollinator garden; a Buds and Blooms Garden Club perennial garden; a Catholic Church garden; possible handicapped accessible paths and Summer Food and Fun youth gardens. The garden club and master gardeners also have funds from David Haugen’s memorial to construct a patio with benches in the garden next year. In the meantime, they plan to apply for grants and will accept donations to fund this wish list of improvements for 2019.
Not being able to use the community garden site this summer will also have an impact on the Pine City Summer Food and Fun program. It was started last summer as a joint effort of Hands 4 Pine City, the Pine County Master Gardeners, SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), Pine County 4-H, Our Redeemer and Zion Lutheran churches, Family Pathways, Pine Center for the Arts, Pine City Schools and the Pine City Backpack Program. It provided food, education and activities for youth who were supported during the school year by the Pine City Backpack Program.
Last summer, seventeen youth ages 11-17 participated in the Summer Food and Fun Program and learned how to grow, harvest, prepare and enjoy vegetables for their noon lunches. The master gardeners built three raised beds and worked with the youth to plant, maintain and harvest a total of three 10 ft. x 20 ft. community garden plots. They worked with the youth at nine weekly gardening sessions and covered everything from planting to harvesting and mulching to pollinators.
The youth became 4-H members and 13 exhibited at the Pine County Fair in 4-H and Open Class. This past winter the group has met monthly as a 4-H Club. The youth are excited to plant different vegetables this summer per leader Julie Samuelson.
Because there will not be a community garden this summer, the master gardeners, Summer Food and Fun and the community gardeners brainstormed for ideas on how to salvage the raised beds that the master gardeners built last summer. With permission from the city, they decided to move the three raised beds from the community garden to the north side of the downtown water tower, next to the library parking lot.
The Master Gardeners will plant two public demonstration beds. One will have cool season crops and the other one warm season crops. Trellising, mulching and other gardening techniques will be demonstrated with use of signs and at two summer public workshops. The Summer Food and Fun youth will plant one bed, help to weed and water and learn from the gardening practices demonstrated in all three beds. The vegetables from all three beds will go to the Summer Food and Fun youth for their noon lunches and needs.
Per Master Gardener Education Committee chair Lauren Meister, the master gardeners are planning a public “Raised Bed Vegetable Gardening Workshop” Saturday, July 14, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. This will be a “Mid-Season Garden Care Workshop.” They will cover weeding, watering, pruning, fertilizing, succession planting, pests and diseases.
Some special thanks go out to the Master Gardeners, community gardeners, Buds and Blooms Garden Club, Julie Samuelson and the Summer Food and Fun program and everyone who has helped to maintain and improve the Pine City Community Garden.
For information on a donation for the Pine City Community Garden “Wish List for 2019,” contact the Pine County Extension office at the courthouse in Pine City at 320-591-1651.