Duluth community garden hosts National Night OutOf the 50 planned National Night Out gatherings Tuesday night in Duluth, none had fresher food than the one on West Fourth Street and 20th Avenue in Lincoln Park.
By: Mike Creger, Duluth News Tribune
Of the 50 planned National Night Out gatherings Tuesday night in Duluth, none had fresher food than the one on West Fourth Street and 20th Avenue in Lincoln Park.
Fresh kale was being sautéed to top polenta. Other greens were available for salad. All the ingredients came from just steps away.
Etched into two abandoned house lots, nearly under the Piedmont Avenue overpass, is the city’s newest community green spot — Emerald Garden.
“It’s not been an easy year for a new garden,” said Jahn Hibbs as people gathered at what once was 2009 and 2007 West Fourth Street. She’s the program director for the Duluth Community Garden Program.
Yet here grew healthy potatoes, melons the size of baseballs, struggling but productive peas and burgeoning tomatoes.
Gritty volunteering by Lincoln Park residents — through tansy, brush, burdock and rocks, lots of rocks — has turned the area into a nifty little garden spot.
It’s all part of a fresh food initiative for the neighborhood, providing people with easy access to healthful food. The garden got a kick-start last year when it won a national grant. Clearing work was done last fall and neighbors met over the winter to talk about what kind of garden they wanted.
“This is by neighbors, for neighbors,” Hibbs said. “We all want a place to get to know our neighbors.”
And that’s why the site was chosen for a night that celebrates getting to know the people around you. Members of the Duluth Police Department fanned out across the city for National Night Out, which started 30 years ago as a way to keep neighborhoods safe through bringing neighbors together.
Sheryl Eagle and her daughter, Deb Eagle, have a plot in the garden. They said they’ve met dozens of people who started out as strangers helping them get their beds of tomatoes and cucumbers in order.
Deb Eagle said she hadn’t done much gardening before outside of a few container tomato plants. She’s enjoying the room to grow.
“We’re meeting all kinds of people,” she said. “So that goal really did work.”
Sheryl Eagle has the green thumb, her daughter said. Both are impressed with how the garden has formed.
“When we started digging it was just — clank — rocks,” Deb said.
Site coordinator Tim Larson said there has been a lot of volunteer work and donations involved. A rain garden was built on the grounds to take advantage of a natural spring. A three-bin compost area sits next to rainwater collectors. Despite a harsh spring that delayed much of the work, he’s happy with the progress and for the future.
An orchard closer to the overpass could be phase two, Larson said. And he helped Mayor Don Ness plant a raspberry plant that Larson hopes will propagate the mulch beds built around the garden.
“It’s your legacy at the garden,” Larson told the mayor.
Ness said he’s impressed with the “great deal of pride” residents have taken in the garden that started as nothing but an abandoned lot.
David Mosqueda-Beaudoin, 11, was excited to meet the mayor, handing him a glass of water before Ness spoke to the crowd. He later proudly showed Ness his potato patch growing through some mulch.
Larson said he put in “four obsessive days” with the rain garden, diverting the water from the spring into an earthen catch basin.
“Now we’ve harnessed it,” he said of the water. Just like the entire rocky plot.