The fruits and vegetables of their labor

Community garden has celebration to showcase improvements

Thanks to a grant secured for Allina, these raised beds were installed for people who have trouble with traditional gardening. Dianne Patras shares a smile with a woman before serving some food to visitors of the garden.  Some gardeners have chosen to grow some eye-catching flowers. Haylee Goulet looks over the 4-H plot in the community garden. Seniors who use the raised beds browse their flowers and produce.  Photos by Derrick Knutson
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Thanks to a grant secured for Allina, these raised beds were installed for people who have trouble with traditional gardening.

Anyone who walks into the Williams Park Community Garden in North Branch will see row after row of traditional gardens and a few raised beds, filled with growing produce and flowers, a brand-new fence to keep animals out, a sturdy shed for garden tools and two water spigots.
The transformation that has happened to the area, located behind the North Branch Area Library, in less than two years has been impressive.
“Everything is full,” said Chisago County Master Gardener program coordinator Sue Humble. “It’s amazing to think that in spring of 2016 we had maybe four or five gardeners, and now it’s full.”
Humble said making the garden handicapped accessible, which included adding the raised beds, was due in large part to a grant secured from Allina by Chisago County Master Gardener Dianne Patras.
“Diane applied for a grant through Allina and got $6,700,” Humble said. “We then reached out to the seniors in our community, so they would have the opportunity to garden. A lot of them live in the apartments, and they don’t have the space to garden.”
Humble thanked the North Branch Lions Club for helping build the beds, and she lauded all the volunteers who had spent time making the upgrades at the garden a reality.
As a way to convey thanks and show off the garden improvements, an open house was held at the garden June 27. Visitors got to enjoy food and refreshments and check out the changes.
Haylee Goulet, a Chisago County 4-H parent, said she has one plot of her own in the garden, and the 4-H program also has a plot.
“We had a club meeting out here,” Goulet said. “They had a master gardener come to the meeting and explain everything in-depth to them. We have youth who lead certain project areas within our club. My daughter, Samantha, is leading this one. She talked with the club. They organized what they were going to grow through the club members and the master gardeners.”
Goulet said 100 percent of the produce grown in the 4-H garden is going to the Family Pathways North Branch food shelf.
“Our club has been out here a little bit, and things are starting out pretty well,” Samantha said, noting she’s done gardening individually for years and she’s been involved with garden projects through 4-H.
She said there are quite a few 4-H kids who are new to gardening and they’re “getting more involved at home because of this.”

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