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Community Garden is bountiful, green

Neat rows of fresh produce thrive at Park Rapids' community garden. (Kalee Holland / Enterprise)

Kicking off their second year, the organizers of the Park Rapids Community Garden are optimistic about the upcoming summer growing season. Following the previous year's yield, the 4 by 12 foot garden plots are already showing lush green foliage.

"We've got some dill here, and the beginnings of broccoli," said head gardener Maurice Spangler. "Things are looking really good."

Fountain-like sprouts of lettuce, viney bushes of pea leaves, and prominent tomato plants are found in copious amounts throughout the fenced garden. Each plot has a unique variety of plant life, with each being rented out by individuals and organizations through Community Education.

"We've gotten a lot of [rentals] this summer," said Spangler. "If we get any more requests, we'll have to make more plots."

This is good news to Spangler and the rest of the planning committee: "The more the merrier!" Spangler explained. "We wanted to get the community interested in gardening fresh produce as a substitute for buying processed foods."

Getting this idea out into the open is part of the plan to organize a farm-to-cafeteria system with the school. But this plan may be far off in the future.

"We decided that we should concentrate initially on the school garden project. Establishing a farm-to-cafeteria project is an undertaking that needs extensive research and regional support," said Spangler. "[The committee] will work on the farm-to-cafeteria project in the next year or two."

So for now, the community garden has focused its energy on educating the youth within the area on the joys of gardening and "reaping what you sow". And from what Spangler can see, the yield should be promising this year.

"We've already had a better start than we did last year, what with the cold lasting so long, that we didn't get good planting weather until June," Spangler said.

With the recent accommodating weather and positive reaction to the program, Spangler is optimistic for the fate of the flora.

To purchase a garden plot for the summer, call Jill Dickinson at 237-6600. The initial cost is $30, but if the purchaser properly cleans their plot at the end of the season, $15 is returned to the plot owner.