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New garden in the shadow of the Jolly Green Giant

By Staff | May 9, 2011

Ask Mary Lucas and Donna Leff how their garden is growing, and you might be surprised by the answer.

It’s growing by leaps and bounds, and they haven’t even planted one seed yet.

Lucas, the director of the Blue Earth Area Mentors (BEAM) and Leff, 4-H Extension director in Faribault County, have teamed up to start a community garden in Blue Earth.

“It’s generating a lot of interest,” Lucas says. “Already we are going to make it much larger than we originally thought.”

The community garden is a result of a $5,000 grant from the Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) in Faribault, Martin and Watonwan counties. Lucas and Leff sent in a joint application for a grant for their two organizations.

The community garden is going to be located on the far east side of the Faribault County Fairgrounds in Blue Earth. The area is roughly 15 feet wide and over a 100 feet long, Lucas says.

“It is going to be on the south side of the Green Giant statue,” Lucas says. “That seems appropriate. People will see the garden when they stop to see the statue.”

Lucas says one of her BEAM board members ­- and Faribault County Commissioner – John Roper, is the one who negotiated with the fair board for use of the land for the garden. Blue Earth City councilman John Huisman has also been instrumental in getting the project to become a reality.

Plus, the two garden organizers have brought in some professional help – master gardener Cindy Lyon has agreed to help with the technical aspects of the community garden.

“I don’t have a green thumb,” Lucas admits. “In fact, I don’t actually do any gardening.”

Lucas and Leff have another reason for starting the garden, other than the thrill of growing vegetables.

“I wanted BEAM to get involved in this as another opportunity for our mentors and mentees to have a project they can work on together,” Lucas explains. “We are looking at this as a chance for youth to learn about gardening from adults. Plus, they will learn about eating healthful foods like vegetables.”

To read more of this story, see this week’s Register.