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The first incarnation of the community garden in the summer of 2011 (pictured) was about half the size of the current one, with just eight plots. There will be 15 plots, 10x10 feet each, available for community residents to enjoy the delights of raising their own vegetables this summer, courtesy of the Becker County Master Gardeners. Brian Basham/Tribune

Community garden will be open for third year

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life Detroit Lakes, 56501
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

It may not seem that way now, but spring really is right around the corner — and gardeners are itching to get their hands buried in the soil for another growing season.

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“There will be gardening this year… sometime,” said Becker County Master Gardener Marsha Parker, who is also a registered dietician with Essentia Health-St. Mary’s in Detroit Lakes. “It may be a little shorter season this year though.”

Parker was the driving force behind the creation of a community garden in the Detroit Lakes Industrial Park, and she says the garden will be open again this year, once the growing season finally gets underway.

“This will be our third summer,” she added. “We will have 15 plots of 10-by-10 feet each, and they’re open to anyone.”

Although last year’s gardeners get first dibs, the other plots are available on a first-come, first serve basis, with sign up set for 5:30 p.m. May 13 at the community garden site. The fee for renting a plot for the entire summer is just $20.

“We’re located in the Industrial Park on 11th Avenue, across from Snappy’s,” Parker said. “The city donated the land, and provided us with access to water, bathroom facilities and gardening tools.

“It’s a great spot that gets lots of sun. Brad Green and Tom Gulon (from the city’s public works department) have been very helpful… we’re very fortunate to have this space, and that the city has been so supportive of our endeavors.”

Parker came up with the idea of a community garden a couple of years ago, because as she puts it, “I really felt we needed a spot for people to be able to grow their own vegetables.

“Even though we are a pretty rural community, there are a lot of people who live in places where they don’t have the space for a garden, or it’s too shady, or they’re apartment dwellers who are restricted from planting one,” Parker added. “It’s important for these people to have access to fresh vegetables, and have the experience of growing them.”

Parker said they have had several families that used their community plot to teach their children how to garden, while some community groups and churches have had plots that they used to grow vegetables which were in turn donated to the Becker County Food Pantry.

Others are people who have lived in places with ready access to a garden for most of their lives, only to move to an apartment where there was no space for one.

“It’s an opportunity for them to continue on with a hobby that they had enjoyed all their lives,” Parker said.

“We’ve had a wide variety of people use our garden — both first time gardeners, and experienced ones,” she added. “People with plots there have really enjoyed the experience of meeting other gardeners, too.”

Community garden tenants also have the advantage of being able to consult directly with a master gardener when needed.

“The Master Gardeners are available to provide guidance and answer questions, which could be particularly helpful for a first time gardener,” Parker said.

And one other advantage this year is that the soil conditions will be a great deal better.

“Last year we had some issues with soil that was contaminated with herbicide,” Parker said. “The city removed that soil, and the Master Gardeners are purchasing some ‘Dick’s Super Soil’ that is mined locally from what is believed to be a glacier deposit… it’s nutrient rich, clean and free of contaminants.

“It’s like a fresh start,” she added.

Though all tenants are required to sign a community gardener agreement that provides a clear list of guidelines to follow, the most basic rule of thumb is to “just be considerate of other gardeners,” Parker said.

For more information, please call Marsha Parker at 218-844-8368.

Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.

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