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Home: Serve : Community Garden

Community Garden

Community Garden - 2017

Application Form, Garden Rules, & FAQs (combined document)

In 2013, First Presbyterian Church of South St. Paul partnered with the Master Gardeners of Dakota County and turned 10,000 square feet of unused land on the west side of the church into a beautiful organic garden.  The Master Gardeners teach classes and operate a 1500 square foot garden where they demonstrate best organic gardening techniques and test new varieties of seeds.  The rest of the garden is divided between plots which can be rented by individuals and families, and an area where volunteers grow food to benefit Neighbors, Inc’s food shelf.

How to get involved:

●   Volunteer to help with the food shelf garden.
●   Rent an organic garden plot. They will be assigned on a first-come, first serve basis with priority given to church members and neighbors. The deadline for church members and returning gardeners is Feb. 12. The remaining plots will be assigned on a first come, first seve basis.
●   Visit the Master Gardener’s plot and attend their free classes to learn more about organic gardening.Contact Julie to sign up to receive e-mail notice.

Frequently Asked Questions
(click for downloadable version)

What is this community garden all about?

Recognizing our responsibility as Christians to restore creation, members of First Presbyterian Church turned a piece of weedy, unused land behind the church into an organic community garden.  The primary goal is to give people a place to grow fresh, nutritious food for their families and the food shelf.  Master Gardeners of Dakota County teach classes and demonstrate organic gardening methods in their Seed Trial Garden within the community garden.  Volunteers use 8 plots to grow veggies for the food shelf at Neighbors, Inc. in So. St. Paul. The veggies from these plots and the Master Gardeners are either donated directly to the food shelf or are sold to church members at the Sunday morning Farmer’s Market. In 2016, we donated 1314 pounds of veggies and $900 from the Farmer’s Market to the food shelf.

We welcome people of all cultures, with little or lots of gardening experience. Each household rents a garden plot and contributes some volunteer hours to help maintain the garden.  Gardeners will run the garden: collect fees, maintain paths, mow, hold meetings, serve on the Steering Committee, etc.

How big are the plots and what is the rental fee?
10’X15’ are $35 and 10’X20’ are $45.  You may rent one plot. If excess plots remain, they will be available to gardeners who want a second plot.  A $20 deposit is required and will be refunded after clean-up is completed or can be held over for the next year's plot deposit.

How will plots be assigned? Plots will be assigned first to returning gardeners, next to church members, then to community residents. Assignments in each group will be on a first-come, first-assigned basis. Sign-up deadlines are: February 12 for returning gardeners and FPC-SSP members who want to join the garden. On February 19 remaining plots will be available to people on the waiting list and then to new applicants.  In the past, gardeners were able to have 2 plots. Unfortunately, we had to turn people away who wanted to garden. This year we will limit people to one plot. If not all plots are rented, they will be available for gardeners.

Are the gardens organic? Gardeners must agree to use only organic gardening methods. Commercial chemical products, including herbicides, insecticides and fungicides, are not allowed in this garden for 2 reasons.  First, they are poisonous and pose a threat to animals, plants and insects beyond the target pest. Second, insecticides and herbicides may drift to neighboring garden plots. Therefore, only products which are certified as organic can be used.  A list of acceptable organic products will be available.

What about people who have never gardened before? One of the greatest benefits of community gardening is learning from other gardeners. Master Gardeners will teach free classes and demonstrate organic gardening methods in their Seed Trial Garden.  There will be other experienced gardeners who will be glad to share their knowledge and skills with gardening novices.

How much time does gardening take? Gardening is fun, but it's also hard work. You have to weed, harvest, and maintain your plot. If you are going to be out of town for an extended period, you'll have to arrange for someone to tend your plot. Gardening also demands more time at different points in the season than others. If you don't think you can tend to your plot twice a week, consider sharing with someone else.

What are the gardener’s responsibilities? ~Be a good neighbor by following the rules and maintaining your plot. ~ Perform the required hours of voluntary-service for the community garden. ~ Enjoy the garden and the community of gardeners!

What about deer and rabbits? The 8’ fence and the gate are meant to keep out deer and rabbits.  So far, there have been no deer in the garden but rabbits are proving to be a challenge.

Is water available? There are 4 water spigots and hoses. In order to minimize water use and keep rental fees low, gardeners are asked to use water wisely and to mulch plants and paths.

When can I start gardening? That will be determined by weather.  You are welcome to begin gardening as soon as weather permits.

What about theft? Many community gardens experience at least a little theft or vandalism. Gardeners have found that theft diminished with signs and outreach to neighbors to tell them about the garden and invite them to get plots. Fences can also help. We hope that our locked gate and 8’ fence will prevent problems.

Are the gardens tilled? Gardeners are responsible for rototilling their own plots. Beginning in 2016 gardeners can choose to have their plot tilled for $10. Proceeds are returned to the garden.

Is there a restroom? When the church is open, the restroom is available. When the church isn’t open, it is not.

Are pets allowed? No, gardeners are not allowed to bring pets into the garden (exception for service animals).

Who can attend the Master Gardeners’ gardening classes? The classes are free and open to anyone.  See our calendar for upcoming date.

Important 2017 Dates:

  • February 12th  Application deadline for returning gardeners.
  • February 12th  Application deadline for FPC-SSP Members.
  • February 19th  Remaining plots will be available to people on waiting list and then to new applicants.
  • April 2nd  Garden Kickoff Meeting, Knox room at FPC-SSP at 1 p.m.
  • April 20th  Last day to cancel application and receive full refund. After this date, only deposit is returned.                      
  • May 6th   Spring Work Day tentatively scheduled. More details later
  • October Fall Cleanup – to be announced

Steering Committee Meetings on First Sundays at 11:30 a.m. in Knox Room, FPC-SSP (with one excpetion: July's meeting will be July 9)