The Pine City Community Garden was closed during 2018, due to the pump station construction project. The University of Minnesota Extension Pine County Master Gardeners, who had been managing the garden since it began 10 years ago, decided to use the down time to reinvent the garden starting in 2018.
Their vision was that the Community Garden can be a positive resource for the community, for the city parks and for the health and quality of life of Pine City residents.
The master gardeners began by soliciting input from other community gardens, and hosted representatives from community and school gardens in Rush City, North Branch, Lindstrom, Mora and Cambridge to get ideas for the Pine City Community Garden. In July, the master gardeners visited each of those five community gardens and two school gardens.
They used those ideas and their vision for Pine City to set priorities for the improved garden. Their goals were to increase garden use and community involvement by expanding its use as an educational tool and community destination and to enhance security. They drew up plans for a new fence, rental and demonstration raised beds, a pollinator garden with educational signs and a patio with benches and picnic tables.
They applied for grants and contacted local organizations to share their vision and project needs. They were awarded an Allina Neighborhood Health Grant and the Touchstone Energy Community Award which was used to pay for rental and demonstration raised beds, course materials and fencing.
The master gardeners purchased used green chain link fence from the North Branch Community Garden. The remainder of the fence was purchased new through a local fencing contractor. The fencing was paid for through grants from the Greater Pine Area Endowment, State Healthwide Improvement Plan (SHIP), and ECE Operation Roundup along with donations from New Horizons Thrift Store, Frandsen Bank and Trust, Pine City Area Lions Club and the Pine City VFW Auxiliary.
The city of Pine City brought in compost. Jeff’s Outdoor Services donated a truck load of soil and tilled the plots.
The garden got a late start this spring due to the cold wet spring weather and construction project completion. Seven raised beds were built by PHASE in time to be rented out and to have demonstration plantings installed. Mark’s Fence and Concrete installed the fence in August.
One of the requirements for the Allina Neighborhood Health Grant was to hold six events for gardeners. Summer Gardening classes were presented on Monday evenings once a month from April to September by U of M Extension Pine County Master Gardeners and the Pine County SNAP Educator. Topics included garden preparation, maintenance, pest management, harvesting, health and nutrition benefits of gardening and fall clean-up practices.
More community garden improvements are planned for next summer, including a David Haugen memorial patio, picnic tables, weed mats and pollinator garden. The master gardeners are seeking funds for these additional improvements.
If you would like to contribute to these garden improvement projects or rent a plot for the 2020 growing season, please contact the Pine County Extension Office at 320-591-1653.
Stay tuned for the Grand Opening Celebration of the Pine City Community Garden, planned for July 2020.