Organizers looking into prospect of community garden in Willmar
WILLMAR -- Organizers are exploring the possibility of a community garden in Willmar. If there's enough interest, the project might bloom in time for the 2007 planting season. "This is the very initial stages," said BobbiJo Berg, community coordi...
WILLMAR -- Organizers are exploring the possibility of a community garden in Willmar.
If there's enough interest, the project might bloom in time for the 2007 planting season.
"This is the very initial stages," said BobbiJo Berg, community coordinator with Kandiyohi County Public Health for Steps to a Healthier Willmar.
A community garden is a large plot of land that's sectioned off for individual gardeners to rent. It allows gardeners to grow their own crops and weed and maintain their own plot while sharing the basic resources of land and water.
The idea was suggested last year as a project for Steps to a Healthier Willmar, Berg said. "We're trying to make sure we listen to what people have said they want to see," she said.
Willmar is one of three cities in Minnesota that are part of the Steps initiative, a national project to help communities enhance their resources for promoting healthy behavior. The project particularly aims to reduce the burden of chronic conditions such as asthma, diabetes and obesity.
Community gardens have sprouted in many cities across the United States, said Berg and Marilyn Bolin, school coordinator for Steps to a Healthier Willmar.
"There's a lot of communities that have been successful with it," Bolin said.
Organizers think it could mesh well with the goal of encouraging more activity and better nutrition.
Growing their own fruit and vegetables is an economical way of ensuring that families get enough fresh produce on their dinner table, Bolin said. There's some evidence that children are more likely to eat fruit and veggies -- and try new varieties -- if they've grown the crop themselves.
There are other benefits besides nutrition. "It's a physical activity," Berg said. "It's a social activity so it can be a mental health benefit."
Extra produce could even be shared with the Willmar Area Food Shelf, churches and other organizations who distribute food to the needy.
"It connects you to your community. You have some ownership," Bolin said. "It can add to community beautification as well."
Organizers are trying to gauge whether there's enough interest to go forward.
They're looking for people who are interested in renting a community garden plot, as well as volunteers interested in helping with the overall project.
Planning will be essential, Berg said.
"We would need to have land picked out and purchased," she said. Rules also would need to be established, such as whose responsibility it will be to open the garden in spring and clean up in fall.
Anyone interested in being involved in a community garden is asked to contact Berg at 231-7852 or the Land Stewardship Project in Montevideo at 269-2105 by March 2.