by Dennis Dalman
Now in its third year, the Sartell Community Garden program has produced tons of delicious edibles from the good earth, despite a brutally hot summer.
There are two community-garden plots in Sartell – a 96-unit plot by Oak Ridge Elementary School and a 10-unit plot near the east-side water plant. Each plot is 20 feet by 20 feet, and some of the plots are shared by two families.
Many gardeners thought the relentless heat would destroy or limit their crop production, but in most cases that did not happen, said Kaye Wenker, co-founder of the community-garden project.
“The amount of tomatoes is amazing,” she said. “And the pumpkins and sunflowers are looking pretty good.”
Not only were there nutritious tons of vegetables from the gardens, but many of the excess goodies were donated to area food shelves. A volunteer, Kasy Jensen, would pick up excess produce two days each week and distribute them to food shelves. The donation of produce was one of the founding concepts of the community-garden project.
“It is great we can share some of the fresh vegetables with others,” Wenker said. “That is one of the things we really wanted to accomplish.”
A new development this year was Maria Schomer, a teacher who taught children some planting tips in the gardens.
Wenker planted some grape vines and blueberries that were donated. Community Garden volunteers also bought some apple trees that were planted. She also planted some currant bushes and rhubarb.
“Hopefully in the future, we will be able to harvest some fruit as well,” Wenker said. “We also have some herb gardens now around the fenced area. We have sage, oregano, chives and thyme.”
The community gardens have been so popular there is a waiting list. People who would like to get their names on that list for next year’s growing season should contact Wenker at [email protected]