‘People’s Garden’ will help supply CAER food shelf

Left to right: Debbie Dehmer, Mary Spangler, Laurel Light and Jean Johnson planted tomatoes in the "People's Garden."

by Joni Astrup
Associate editor
They call it the People’s Garden.
It consists of raised gardens at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offices along Highway 10 just outside Elk River’s western city limits.
Employees there have planted the gardens on their own time and will donate the produce to CAER, the Elk River-based food shelf.
Jean Johnson of the USDA Farm Service Agency said they planted tomatoes, peppers, squash, green beans, cucumbers and rhubarb for CAER in five of the raised gardens. A butterfly garden is in the sixth plot.
Employees are taking care of the garden on their lunch hours and before and after work. All of the plants and supplies were donated.
The People’s Garden is a national USDA campaign aimed at growing healthy food, people and communities. The USDA has challenged its employees to establish People’s Gardens at USDA facilities worldwide or to help communities create gardens.

Bill Bronder of the Sherburne Soil and Water Conservation District worked with Harlan and Bob Wilts getting the beds set in the ground to be ready for planting.

About the People’s Gardens
•In the People’s Gardens fresh fruits and vegetables can be grown for those in need or trees, shrubs and flowers can be planted to improve soil, water and air health, attract wildlife or beautify the neighborhood.
•U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack broke ground on the first People’s Garden at USDA headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 12, 2009 ­— the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. When Lincoln founded the USDA in 1862, he referred to it as “The People’s Department.”


Elk River Service Center staff filled the beds with dirt.
Farm Service Agency employee Mary Spangler (in red) with Jerry Anderson (kneeling) and Mary Monte from the Natural Resources Conservation Service planted peppers.
Tiffani Determan and Gina Hugo planted the butterfly garden with the plants.
Kevin Hidde (digging), county executive director from the Farm Service Agency, worked with Bill Bronder of the Sherburne Soil and Water Conservation District to get the rhubarb planted.

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