Raised beds, disability accommodations coming to NB community garden

The blue area in this graphic shows the additions planned to the Williams Park Community Garden this year. Graphic supplied
The blue area in this graphic shows the additions planned to the Williams Park Community Garden this year.
Graphic supplied

The Williams Park Community Garden in North Branch underwent quite the transformation last year when the city paired with a group of local volunteers to transform it from a forgotten parcel of land into a fertile patch of ground people want to use.
Keeping with the theme, even more upgrades are coming this year, and those who have invested their hard work into improving the garden, located near the North Branch Area Library, want more gardeners to grow their produce in its soil.
Dianne Patras, a Chisago County Master Gardener and community garden volunteer, found out Feb. 16 she had been awarded a Neighborhood Health Connection grant she had applied for earlier that month, in the amount of $6,712.
That money, along with donations from Neighborhood National Bank and the University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener program, will be used to extend the fencing at the garden, install six 4-foot-by-16-foot raised garden beds, add another rest area in the garden and make the raised bed area accessible to people with physical disabilities.
The city will be installing another water spigot near the raised beds, and there will be a portable toilet placed in the area.
Patras said she’s currently researching some options for installing a smooth, flat surface around the raised beds so people in wheelchairs can easily traverse the area. She’s hoping to have that surface finished by the time people start using the community garden in the spring. Two of the raised beds will be set aside for gardeners with mobility issues. The others will be available to everyone to rent.
In addition to appealing to people with physical disabilities, Patras said she’s hoping to get some people with cognitive disabilities gardening. The goal, she said, is to have a mix of people utilizing the garden.
“This year, 4-H youth is renting a spot,” she said. “You’re going to have seniors, people with disabilities, and 4-H young kids. It’s going to be a big variety of people. There are even a couple of them rented by a man in his 20s.”
Future plans
Patras said she’s very grateful for the support that’s been given to the community garden project in the form of grant money, volunteer hours and backing from the city, and she noted that hopefully improvements will continue to be made to the garden.
“We need some shade, so maybe a pergola or something,” she said.
Those improvements will require more funds and more volunteer hours. Anyone interested in donating time or money to Williams Park Community Garden can call Patras at 763-444-6484 or email [email protected]
Additionally, there is still garden space available for this year. People interested in renting space can contact Sue Humble at 651-277-0151 or [email protected]
People who sign up to rent a raised bed garden this year will receive the following, free of charge, thanks to the grant money:
•Use of a 30-inch-tall raised garden bed.
•Use of gardening tools and hoses.
•Bus tokens for transportation to and from garden.
•Seeds.
•Reusable water bottle.
•Summer picnic.
•A canning and freezing class.
•Help from the Chisago County Master Gardeners.
•A $10 gift card after completing a short questionnaire.

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