Itching to make gardens growAs snow melts and temperatures rise, local green thumbs have begun itching. “I’ve talked to a lot of people who are anxious,” said Jane Anklam, horticulture and agriculture educator with the University of Wisconsin-Extension. “They’re more ready to grow in the garden than the garden is ready for it.”
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
As snow melts and temperatures rise, local green thumbs have begun itching.
“I’ve talked to a lot of people who are anxious,” said Jane Anklam, horticulture and agriculture educator with the University of Wisconsin-Extension. “They’re more ready to grow in the garden than the garden is ready for it.”
At Northern Lights Elementary School, pepper and basil plants have sprouted in the classroom, waiting to be transplanted into the school’s garden.
Gardening is a passion for Mary Stone, who lives near Pattison Park. She has more than a hundred tomato and pepper plants started, ready to move into a poly-high tunnel.
“I know a lot of people in outlying areas garden every year; we do it every year,” Stone said.
The trend toward building a sustainable, local food web is growing, Anklam said. It’s not just a hobby or a passing fad. Like hanging wash out to dry, it’s become part of people’s economy.
“It saves me a bundle of money,” Stone said, although she plows a lot of sweat equity into it.
Although local grocery stores offer good food choices, Anklam said, growing a garden is sustainable. It gets kids and their families outside with the sun on their faces and dirt under their fingernails.
Insight teacher Jay Burfield is heading the Northern Lights garden effort, now in its second year. He started a previous garden at Iron River Elementary School, where he taught fifth grade.
“It’s just one of those things everybody could connect with,” Burfield said. The Iron River garden was a good learning experience for the children and it collected a lot of community pride and support. It can also lead to healthier eating habits. Children are much more likely to try a piece of broccoli if they plant it as a seed, Burfield said.
Cooper Elementary School started a school garden in 2010 and it remains part of the local landscape. Other community gardens can be found in Superior’s North End, including Catlin Greens and Solid Rock Mission.
“I believe most communities would benefit if there were more community gardens,” Stone said. “There is a need for affordable, healthy food in every community.”
Stone is one of five recent master gardener graduates hoping to establish a community garden in Superior’s South End.
“We would like to get together with community members and find out exactly what we need to do to set up a community garden … work through the whole process and see if we can get it done,” she said.
Anyone interested in the project is encouraged to call Stone at 715-399-2417.
Burfield is seeking families to help weed and water the Northern Lights school garden over the summer. To volunteer, email email@example.com or call 715-395-6066.
For other area gardeners, a host of information is available through publications, free classes and hands-on opportunities, including weekly work sessions 4-7 p.m. each Tuesday at the Solid Rock gardens.
“I was unaware so much was going on in Superior,” Stone said.
She encouraged people to put their fingers on the local gardening pulse at lsmga.weebly.com or http://douglas.uwex.edu/horticulture.
Even folks with small backyards can garden. Container gardening is an option. Or people can rent a plot at the Broadway Community Gardens. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.superiorcfta.org.