Summit Hill community garden update: Preparing for the second season

What last year’s gardeners said:

"We've never had so many tomatoes..."

"Love the garden and so appreciative of all the committee's work!"

The Summit Hill Community Garden (SHCG) is entering into its second season and we are excited to get growing again! What a long, cold and snowy winter this has been - completely obliterating any sign that the garden actually existed except in our memories!

But now with the snow slowly disappearing - the bones of the garden showing themselves, the applications for garden plots flowing in - the reality of a lush green landscape doesn't seem so impossible anymore. And I suspect many gardeners have been pouring over seed catalogs planning their next adventures at the SHCG! As of mid-March, there are approximately 45 households registered for plots with about 1/3 (one-third) of those being renters in Summit Hill. Nearly 80% of gardeners from last year returned to the garden and we were able to welcome about 15 new gardeners this year. This is great news since we’ve wanted to make sure there was some turnover making it possible for new gardeners or new residents to have chance to participate.

The SHCG Council, and other wonderful volunteers, have all kept busy over the winter coordinating with City of St. Paul staff who oversees the implementation of the City STAR Grant – which we were awarded last year for to help cover installation costs of the perimeter fence and tool shed this year.

This has been a learning experience for us dealing with the STAR Grant where we’ve had to understand the process of getting bids from contractors who are certified through the city and are in the City’s Vendor Outreach Program (VOP) which matches contractors with organizations who need work done...like us! The qualifying contractors in the VOP are either small business owners, women-owned or minority-owned businesses. The good news is we are close to being able to finalize contracts for the fence and tool shed. Yay! Goodbye chicken wire and a pile of tools under a tarp!

The SHCG Council and volunteers also worked on tweaking our guidelines, streamlining the plot application process, and prioritizing our projects for the coming year or two. Future projects include a logo, a sign, benches, raised beds for handicapped accessibility, permanent perennial food garden, (asparagus, strawberries, rhubarb, etc.) permanent compost bins, and forming an educational-learning partnership with youth in our neighborhood. We will also continue our donations of fresh produce to local/neighborhood organizations.

We had a very successful Christmas tree recycling event in January which raised over $1000.00 for the garden. Keep us in mind next year whether you want your tree picked up or could volunteer to help! (We especially need more big pick-up trucks so we can more easily pick up and haul the trees.)

Finally, SHCG is proud of being honored as the recipient of the 2013 Blooming Saint Paul “Gold Bloom” award for edible garden. Check out the adjacent listing to see the other award winning gardens in St. Paul!

This year, watch for garden events coming up including the city-wide Community Garden Day in August, a National Night Out gathering in the garden, and another “Harvest Dinner” in the fall. We are striving to make the garden and green space an inviting and inspiring place in Summit Hill for all to enjoy!

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