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State capitol gardens will include vegetables this summer

One of the flower beds outside the state capitol building will grow vegetables this year, a change that supporters hope will encourage more people to grow their own food.

One of the flower beds outside the state capitol building will grow vegetables this year, a change that supporters hope will encourage more people to grow their own food.

Gardeners planted the vegetables Tuesday in one of the roughly 23-foot circular plots near the edge of the capitol property. The plot will get plenty of exposure, not only in terms of sun but visibility. It's right up by the sidewalk where thousands of people walk by at the Dane County Farmer's Market every weekend.

Claire Strader is the farm manager for Community GroundWorks, which planted the garden and will be in charge of weeding and watering it this summer. She says she's not at all worried about people tasting the food that they grow. Strader hopes people will sample a tomato and take with them the idea they can grow vegetables in their own yard.

Beyond tomatoes, the plot will grow a variety of vegetables, including eggplants, broccoli, kohlrabi, chard, carrots, and potatoes. It won approval just last week from the panel that's in charge of the capitol grounds and the executive residence.

GroundWorks' Megan Cain was helping Strader. She says she's not sure something like this could have happened five or ten years ago.

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"Wisconsin has always had a lot of gardeners," she says, but she's not sure a vegetable garden would be at the capitol, "if vegetable gardening wasn't so popular right now.

Cain says the White House vegetable garden has something to do with that popularity. First Lady Michele Obama established that garden last year to provide produce for the White House kitchen.

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