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Home: Serve : Community Garden

Community Garden

Community Garden - 2020

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

In 2013, First Presbyterian Church transformed unused land into an organic garden. Nineteen plots are rented to members and neighbors to grow nutritious food for their families. Master Gardeners use a section to run seed trials for the University of Minnesota and grow veggies for the food shelf. Volunteers use 8 plots to grow veggies for the food shelf and to sell at the Sunday morning Farmer’s Market. Last year, volunteers and Master Gardeners donated 958 pounds of organic veggies and $786 from the Farmer’s Market to Neighbors, Inc.'s food shelf. Gardeners are responsible for all aspects of maintaining and operating the garden. The success of the garden relies on gardeners donating time and complying with the rules.

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. 16, 2020. 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. Since 2013, we have donated 4901 pounds of organic vegetables and $4,215 cash from the Farmer’s Market to Neighbors food shelf.

We welcome people of all cultures, with little or lots of gardening experience. Each household rents a garden plot and contributes volunteer hours to help maintain the garden.  Gardeners will run the garden: collect fees, maintain paths, 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 damage deposit is required (in addition to the rental fee) and will be refunded when a gardener decides not to continue renting and plot clean-up is completed.

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 11th for returning gardeners and February 11th for FPC-SSP members who want to join the garden.

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 10 hours of 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. We haven't had rabbits since we installed taller chicken wire.

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? So far, we have had no problems. We have great neighbors, an 8 foot fence and locked gate.

Are the gardens tilled? Gardeners are responsible for rototilling their own plots. The soil is light enough that many gardeners do not need to till.

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.  If you are interested in attending, watch the calendar of the church website.  We can also notify you by e-mail.

Important 2020 Dates:

  • February 16,  Application deadline for returning gardeners.
  • February 16,  Application deadline for FPC-SSP Members.
  • February 18,  Remaining plots will be available to people on waiting list and then to new applicants.
  • April 26,  Garden Kickoff Meeting, Knox room at FPC-SSP at 1 p.m.
  • April 19,  Last day to cancel application and receive full refund. After this date, only deposit is returned.
  • May 10,   Spring Work Day. Rain date is May 17
  • July 26, Open house for church and community, 11 am
  • October 12 or 19,  Fall Cleanup – tentatively scheduled

Steering Committee Meetings: 1st Sunday of the month at 11:30 a.m. in Knox Room, FPC-SSP