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A space for community to grow

A community garden in the vicinity of Oakes Avenue and North 24th Street could become a reality with the help of the city.

A group of master gardeners formed a nonprofit organization and are making plans for a space where neighbors could gather to sow their gardens.

"This idea was kind of born out of the master gardeners group," said Jane Marynik, a 10-year resident of Superior and student at the University of Minnesota Duluth.

"Douglas County has a very active master gardener program," said Councilor Ruth Ludwig, a member of the group. "Our ag agent, Jane Anklam, is a big part of it ... Duluth had approached us for our master gardening expertise and we said, 'Why should we give it to Duluth when we can do it for our own citizens here in Superior?' So that really created the big push for us to approach the mayor and city planner to start creating our own community gardens right here in Superior."

Marynik said they started by looking at the community garden space Superior has, much of it population and purpose specific, such as Catlin Green for Superior Housing Authority residents and the Solid Rock community garden that supplements food for the shelter run by Northwest Wisconsin Community Services Agency.

"The idea is to provide access for a broader range of residents," Marynik said.

The group has been presenting their idea for a community garden to city officials this week — first the City Council on Tuesday and the Plan Commission on Wednesday — to introduce councilors to the proposal, which includes using and improving city owned land north of the Golden Apartment Complex for the community garden.

"This space was chosen because it provides good access and good space for us for a beginning garden project," Marynik said. "There is also a high number of rental properties in the area, which is a group of people that could really benefit from having a space of their own to come together."

In addition to providing plots — available on a sliding fee scale to the public — the group plans to provide educational opportunities for people to learn about gardening and associated issues; 24 garden beds of different sizes, including raised beds for people who need that; space for trees and berries that people can tend together; a water capture system, tool sheds and compost bins needed for the gardens; an educational bulletin board; and a free produce stand where gardeners can share their abundance with the community.

"It's just a nice way to share with people growing in the gardens as well as people passing by," Marynik said. "It's all about access, providing this place to come together and build community."

The group had developed a budget to install a fence to protect the beds from deer, as well as other things needed to develop the garden spaces, building a children's garden, walkways, sheds and other features needed for the garden, including insurance.

The goal is to raise money for the project by applying for grants.

The City Council is slated to consider an agreement for use of the land at its Feb. 6 meeting.

The goal is to get everything approved next month and start the work to build the gardens in the spring and summer.

"Nationwide, there are all kinds of areas doing these," Councilor Warren Bender said.

For more information about the group, find "Superior Community Gardens" on Facebook.