A community garden is in the works at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.
Whether a part of Saint Mary’s, or the greater Winona area, everyone will have access to the community garden. The produce from the garden will be used by Winona Volunteer Services to benefit those who cannot provide a healthy living for themselves.
To begin the process of creating a community garden, Saint Mary’s applied for a three-year grant from Americorps. The Americorps program provides funds to nonprofit organizations that help decrease poverty.
Suzanne Chapdelaine is the VISTA, or Volunteer in Service to America, for the garden. She will head the leadership for the community garden. Chapdelaine will lay the groundwork in order to ensure the garden’s success.
There are multiple groups responsible for this garden. One of the groups involved is the garden club – now called Gardeners in Unity and led by Annika Blesener. Another is the Professional Learning Community, or PLC. The PLC is a committee of faculty dedicated to teaching others of place-consciousness. They will help Chapdelaine prepare the garden prior to planting season, and the Gardeners in Unity will help with routine maintenance of the garden once it is up and running.
Along with giving to Winona Volunteer Services, the garden will educate others about topics such health awareness. The produce from the garden will be used by the campus dietitian and various kitchens in the community. Faculty can also use the garden in classrooms: plants for biology and culture for history.
For example, Professor Erich Lippman of the History Department and member of the PLC, said he was intrigued about the history behind gardening. He even found an interesting coincidence: the plot where the new garden is set to be is exactly where a Native American tribe who resided in Winona, known as Wapasha Prairie at that time, planted their own garden years ago.
The garden will be planted west of U.S. Highway 14, where the Ek Family Village residence pods were demolished recently. The garden will occupy an eighty by one-hundred and twenty-foot plot.
Although the garden will be difficult to plant this fall and spring because of the compact dirt, the organizations responsible for the garden plan to plant low maintenance crops and flowers for pollinators.
No substances such as pesticides and herbicides will be used in maintaining the compost or the dirt.
Anyone is welcome to help in the garden so it is not necessary to be part of the Gardeners in Unity or PLC to assist.