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Public invited to select vegetable for community gardening initiative

Community members have an opportunity to vote for their favorite vegetable.

The winning edible plant will become the featured produce for Park Rapids' 2018 "One Vegetable, One Community" (OVOC) initiative.

OVOC is a community-wide, gardening campaign that encourages gardeners of all levels to grow and prepare a single vegetable.

Other towns in Minnesota have launched OVOC, but this summer was the first time for the Park Rapids area.

The free, family-friendly OVOC event is from 4:30-5:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 11 at Century Elementary School.

Samples of fresh, locally grown sweet peppers, corn on the cob, plus yellow and red watermelon will be available, with local farmers on hand to answer questions.

Master Gardener Kyle Schulz will share tips on how to preserve garden produce. There will also be games and door prizes, such as a canner, jars, canning book and a cookbook.

Other presenters include The FATHER Project, MAHUBE-OTWA, the Park Rapids Area Library, Hubbard in Prevention Coalition and the 4-H Green Valley Live Wires Club.

The 2017 designated vegetable was green and purple beans. Hundreds of free seed packets were given away in early spring. Residents, businesses, churches, government offices and others were urged to grow the tasty legumes in containers, raised beds, planter boxes or gardens. The program will resume next spring.

OVOC is a multi-agency partnership to increase access to local produce in the area. It is a joint effort of the University of Minnesota Extension SNAP-Ed, Institute on Environment and Northwest Regional Sustainable Development Partnership.