NEIGHBORHOOD NOTES | Southside Star Community Garden makes gardening more accessible by adding raised beds

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Southside Star Community Garden off 32nd Ave. has added several raised beds this spring, thanks to a $1,000 grant from the Standish-Ericsson Neighborhood Association (SENA).

“The SENA grant was awarded through a contest at the annual SENA meeting last fall,” observed Southside Star Community Garden Board Member Susan Fall. “The purpose for our proposal of raised beds was two-fold: we wanted to create wheelchair-access raised beds, plus we wanted to add a few raised beds in a low-lying area of the garden which could be accessed by people with mobility problems.”

One of the stipulations for the award of the SENA grant was that the project be backed by participants at the annual SENA meeting. “We live in a wonderful neighborhood. The project received a lot of support from the community,” said Fall. “Individuals from both the Southside Star Community Garden and from the community at large agreed to work on the project.”  Some people could not help out during the Raised Bed Workshop on April 21, but still offered their help if it was needed at another time.

“One person, who had signed up to help, informed me this spring that he was deployed in the Middle East with his reserve unit and would not be back until June,” said Fall. ”He offered his help, if needed, when he came back.”

The 5x12x2-foot beds were constructed on Saturday, April 21 during a workshop sponsored by the Southside Star Community Garden. Gardeners and community members assisted in the construction, which was organized by Southside Star Steering Committee member Stephanie Howes. Howes designed the beds, picked up the materials and ordered the topsoil.  She also pre-cut the boards. Then workers built the beds and filled them with topsoil.

The new raised beds are part of the family of plots offered at the community garden, according to Southside Star Community Garden Membership Coordinator Laura Hansen. They are situated near the alley for ease of access, across from the shed. A few more will be added a little further into the garden.

The Southside Star Community Garden is open to all individuals, but members who have mobility problems have a harder time maintaining a garden, observed Fall. ”In the past, we have had some garden members with mobility problems who struggled to maintain a garden but were not able to because they were not able to work at ground level comfortably. This problem excludes a number of our neignbors from becoming a member of the garden.

“The Southside Star Community Garden not only supplies wholesome, organically grown food to its members and to the local food shelf, it is a peaceful place where neighbors can meet, work together and socialize.  It instills a sense of community.  We do not want to exclude anyone from the joys of gardening with their neighbors.”

The cost of one of the new beds is $25 a year, and are available on a sliding scale. Email bigelle71@yahoo.com or call (612) 296-0225 to reserve one.

MORE ABOUT THE GARDEN
During the 2011 season, there were 37 gardeners participating at Southside Star Community Garden. “Last year went well, with the exception of theft,” Hansen reported. There was one person in particular who came through with children last summer, and they helped themselves to vegetable from various plots. “It really upset a lot of our gardeners,” observed Hansen. “These plot holders spend the summer nurturing their plants – so when someone just walks in and takes stuff it is really disheartening.”

This year, gardeners hope to increase the amount of food donated to the food shelf from 350 pounds to 500 pounds, noted Hansen.

The garden is located off 32nd Ave. just north of 42nd St., adjacent to the light rail. There is a waiting list for garden plots. Contact Hansen at <bigelle71@yahoo.com> for more information.

 

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