Prairie Yard & Garden: Glenwood Community Garden

(gentle piano music) – [Voiceover] Prairie, Yard,
and Garden is a production of the University of
Minnesota, Morris, in cooperation with
Pioneer Public Television. Additional support provided by Mark and Margaret Yackel-Juleen, in honor of Shalom Hill Farm, a non-profit, rural
education retreat center in a beautiful prairie setting near Windom in
southwestern Minnesota. – A locavore is a person
who makes an effort to eat food that is grown,
raised, or produced locally, usually within
100 miles of home. Growing up on the farm near
Strasburg, North Dakota, we were locavores before
that word even existed. Like most people in
that area, we relied on the two vegetable
gardens, pumpkin patch, potato patch, and
sweet corn field for much of our family’s food. However, today many people do not have that
ability to garden, whether they don’t have
space or gardening knowledge. Come along with Prairie,
Yard, and Garden as we visit a garden that is
providing lots of fresh produce and gardening know-how to help make a whole
community locavores. (jazzy piano music) Most of us have been at family,
church, or social events where someone has
made the comment, “There’s enough food here
to feed the whole town.” Welcome to Prairie,
Yard, and Garden. I’m host Mary Holm and
today we are visiting the Glenwood Community
Garden with Mike Knutson, who is dedicated to
growing enough food to feed the entire community. Welcome, Mike. – Thank you. – Now tell us, please, how did
the Glenwood Community Garden get started, and who started it? – Well, I got the idea. I work at Glenwood
Lutheran Church, and we had a green
space that we were gonna put into a parking lot
and I thought that, I saw a lot of older
people in our church and that couldn’t raise
their own vegetables anymore, and I knew they still
would make things and that would
love to have some. So I got the idea, and I
was gonna do it back there but then I didn’t
have enough room, and someone put me in touch
with the USDA up here. They had a small,
little garden here that their employees were
tryin’ to take care of, and they were lookin’ for
someone to take it over. So I stepped in
and took it over. The first year, we expanded
it from what they had. And last few years,
we have expanded it, and we just did again
this year, 16 more feet. – [Mary] How did they get
started in the gardening? Why did they have a little
garden space to begin with? – [Mike] Well, part of it is
Michelle Obama’s initiative in that, to have community
gardens to help feed people, get ’em fresh
vegetables and that. – Who does the garden
tilling in the spring and who gets ready and decides
what’s all gonna be planted? – Well, I do all the set
up and that and decide what’s gonna be planted. And a lot of that comes from what seeds I can get from
Glenwood Floral and Nursery, and what plants I can
get from Glacial Growers, south of town. And they’ve been
generous and given me whatever plants I want
and how many ever I want. One of our church
members and volunteers comes over with his
tractor and tiller after we’ve put in
some chicken compost that we get from
another member’s large chicken farm and that. We’ve put that in every year and that, I would
say, is the reason why we have such
good-looking vegetables. They have something extra. – [Mary] So you add
some nutrients and
help amend the soil to get it more fertile and. – [Mike] Right, and to add
more humus to the soil. And, as you can see,
we do some straw and grass clippings, too, which will, next year,
get tilled in also. – [Mary] Do you mulch also? – [Mike] Yes, especially
around the vine crops. As you can see,
the watermelon here and the vine crops over
there, and the tomatoes. I want the tomatoes
so we don’t have so much trouble with
the weeds around them, and we don’t get the splash-up to get the disease
on the leaves also. – [Mary] And I’m sure
that with the vining crops it’s nice to have the
mulch to help keep the fruits off of the ground.
– [Mike] Yes. – [Mary] How big is
your garden here? – [Mike] Well, now
with the new expansion this year and that, it’s
around 100 feet long by 34 feet wide. – [Mary] Do you keep a
map from year to year or do you rotate the crops so that you have things
in different places? – [Mike] Yes, I do
draw up a map and that, so I know when we’re
planting and that, and where I want things. And, yes, we do rotate. – [Mary] And why do you do that? – [Mike] Well, there’s
certain diseases that can stay in the
ground from certain plants like tomatoes, for
one thing and that, can be bad, so
you need to change the locations and that from year to year. – [Mary] Do you
have much trouble with insects or diseases at all? – Uh, not a lot. We have, in the
past, had problem with some of the vine crop, down over there right now. I noticed a little bit on them. And tomatoes sometimes
get the blight coming up. This year, so far,
they’ve been pretty good. So we keep ’em up in the
tomato cages and that, keep ’em off the ground. – [Mary] I notice that you
have some really, really nice tomato cages. Did somebody make those? Or where did you get those from? – [Mike] Yes, they were made, those and the bins over here, the compost bins were made by a Scout for
his Eagle project. – [Mary] Do you have
any deer problems and rabbit problems? – [Mike] The first year,
we didn’t have a fence. And the deer just had
a field day. (chuckles) We have a lot of deer
in this community. And that’s why the next
year, we went and got, these are cattle panels we got, and they’re easy to put in. And I know deer can get over ’em but they don’t seem to bother. Right now, at least. And rabbits, we put two
foot chicken netting around the outside, against the ground and that to help keep the rabbits. – [Mary] And I bet you
that has helped a lot, huh? – [Mike] Yeah, there’s
quite a few rabbits around here, too, I’m sure. – How many volunteers
do you have? You don’t possibly take
care of all of this by yourself, do you? – No, I have
somewheres around 10. I don’t have all of
them at one time. We’re trying to do this, to
weed every Wednesday evening. And last Wednesday, we had, we have about 5 adults
and there was four kids that came along, and we have a, I have a high school student. She has been coming faithfully, at least once a week and that, and helping me, and she’s
really gotten into it and now she loves gardening. – [Mary] Ah, so you’ve
actually taught people about gardening here, too. – [Mike] Yes, I have, that’s
one of the main things I wanted to do with this, too. I know at least three families that have come here and helped, and didn’t know
what was going on or how to do anything, and now they have their
own vegetable gardens also. In the fall, when
school started, we have brought busloads
of kids out here to show them what you
can grow and that. And sometimes have
given ’em stuff. And I’ve brought lots of
tomatoes and zucchini and that over to the school for them
to have fresh vegetables in their lunches. – [Mary] What do you
do with the produce? – [Mike] Most of our produce
goes to the food shelf. That’s one of the main reasons
I wanted to start this. And we also have some assisted
living facilities in town where they can do some
of their own cooking, and we take some of it to there. And I might also
start taking some to the Farmer’s Market
Saturday mornings, and then take that money and
give that to the food shelf. – And then who helps
with the harvesting? – All of our different
people and that. Depends, I have, I
have like three people that do most of it, that
help me most of the time. With the harvest. It’s gotta be people that know what is ready and what
things are and that. So I only trust it
to a few people. Or else if they’re
here and that, and we’re working
and everything, they ask about it, and I say, “Well, this is ready
and that’s not.” And, you know,
I’m tryin’ to show more people what
things look like when they are ready to harvest. – [Mary] So you’re
really teaching people as you go along. – [Mike] Yes, yes, I am. That’s what I like to do. – [Mary] How often
do you harvest? Are you pretty much
just check it daily? Or how often do you check? – [Mike] The food shelf is
open Mondays and Wednesdays. So we try to get things done like Sunday or Monday morning or Wednesday morning or Tuesday. If some things need to be
harvested by the weekend, we take and harvest
them and put them in the larger
refrigerator at church, and then take them over
like Monday morning. – So about how
many pounds of food did you, do you harvest
from your community garden? – I do keep track. We have sheets in
the little shed that people write down
the poundage and that. We have a scale and everything. And last year it was
nearly 1,200 pounds of vegetables we harvested
out of this garden. – [Mary] That’s just fantastic. There’s a lot of
people that benefit from this garden, aren’t there? – Yep, the lady that
runs the food shelf told me this one little boy, I’d brought in some cucumbers
and some other stuff, and he saw the cucumbers and
asked if he could have one. And they let him
have one, of course, and he sat right down
and was eating it. He was just, she
said he just had such a happy
expression on his face as he got fresh cucumber. – And you got somebody
eating a fresh vegetable, which there is nothin’
better for a child. – No, there’s not
enough of that, I feel, out here now and
that more people are just using processed foods. Where your fresh vegetables
are always better. – [Mary] Who does all the
fall clean up then, too, after the harvesting is done? – [Mike] Well, some of
my people help in that but we’ve also, the
one lady and her son that did the Eagle
Scout project, she also runs the
Scout pack here. And she gets some of those boys to come and help take all
the stuff and that up. – [Mary] Does everybody
bring their own tools or do you have tools
here at the garden? – [Mike] Some of both,
there’s, like I said, a lot of people
don’t have gardens, don’t know how to
garden and that. So we do have some hoes
and other tools here that I’ve bought over the years. And then the rest of us bring, I usually bring a lot of my
own stuff, tools and that. And this year we did buy a
small tiller that helped. When we were planting,
we could till, loosen up the ground,
easier to plant. And in between
the rows and till. Some of the stuff gets too large to get in there and that. So that has helped a lot. – [Mary] I see you
have some hoses here. Tell us about what the
watering system is. – [Mike] I have about three
of us that do watering. I would like to train more. We have to go and pull around 175 feet of hose because our water
is a city hydrant way down back there and that. So it takes a lot of
hoses to get up here. And then we hook into
our irrigation system that Jerry Wright, who
used to work for the U, put in for us. So we don’t water
the whole garden, which helps with the
weeding and that, too. And you can also water
while you’re working. And it runs, hose,
tapes our hoses down each row and that we
plant right beside each of the tapes. – [Mary] And then it
looks like you have kind of a soaker hose system? – [Mike] Yes, most of it is. Some of it are bigger tubes that they have emitters onto. – [Mary] Well
that’s really great because it doesn’t
waste water or anything. It goes right to where
the plants need it. – [Mike] Yep, it’s on timers. We got two different
sections goin’ two ways here and we can put the timers
on for two hours at a time, which usually is enough time to do a good watering. – Where do you store your
equipment over the winter? Do you have a place or does
everybody take it to there home? – Lot of the stuff is stored
in the shed over here. And now we’ve got a bigger shed that we’re going to be using that came from the
back of the church, that they didn’t need anymore. So that will be nice. We can leave more stuff here. We bring some of the hoses in, put ’em in the basement
of the church usually. So most of the stuff stays here. – [Mary] Community garden
things that I have read about, people have their own little
space that they maintain but that’s not the case
with this garden, is it? – [Mike] No, that’s a misnomer
for a lot of people and that. I wanted to start it to
produce fresh vegetables for, mainly, the food
shelf and other people that didn’t have the
facilities or the abilities to do it anymore. – [Mary] If there is
some other community that would like to start a community garden
like you have, what kind of advice
would you give them? How would they start it, how would they go
about doing this? – [Mike] If they have a USDA
office in your community, there would be a
great place to start. Or a church would be great. Or another service organization. ‘Cause if you can
work through them, you’re going to get
better exposure and that, and they can help you raise money also. – [Mary] How has your garden
changed over the years? – Well, we have increased it, what have I increased
it, three times. We have increased the size. I get more people
helpin’ and they go, “Well, why don’t
we make it bigger?” And I go, “Well,
you gonna help?” “Yeah, we’ll help!” So I go, “Okay.” We go and get some
more cattle panels. They’re 16 foot cattle panels, so we increased it by
another 16 feet this year. – [Mary] Mike, this
is a wonderful garden. Could you please take the time and show us the varieties
that you’re growing and show us all the
different kinds of plants that you’re growing? – [Mike] I would love to, Mary. – [Mary] Mike, you have
some absolutely beautiful tomatoes here in your garden. Um, let’s see, I’m about
five, a little over five feet, and I’m at eye-level
with your tomatoes. What kind of
tomatoes do you have that you’re growing? – Well, we have four
different varieties here. We have Big Boy,
we have Brandywine, which is one of my favorites. That’s an heirloom variety. And heirloom means an
old heritage variety. They are big and they are
better testing, I think, than any of the
hybrids and that. Then we have a yellow and
then we have a paste tomato. – [Mary] The leaves
are different on
the Brandywine, too. Is that normal? – [Mike] Yes, that’s called
the potato leaf variety. Where these are just
the regular tomato. Tomatoes and potatoes
are in the same family. They’re quite close relatives. – [Mary] And then you said you
grow a yellow variety, too? – [Mike] Right, I like a,
personally, I like a yellow because it’s less acid and that. I think it has a nice flavor. And some people
stomachs can’t handle the acid of a regular tomato, so your yellow will be
easier for them to eat. – [Mary] Well, and
when you’re growing in a community garden, for the
food to go to lots of people, you’re taking other people’s digestive systems into effect, and you’re really watching
out for them, too. So that’s great. And you have a paste
variety, too, you said? – [Mike] Right, we have
one of those over there. We give a lot of it to
the food shelf and that. I don’t, I think most people
just eat ’em and that. You know, they’re fine, great
for salads and that, cut up. Some people will
take and make some salsa with it or
some spaghetti sauce. I do some of that myself. I make spaghetti sauce and I make a peach salsa
out of some of this stuff. – [Mary] Okay, and usually
they’re pretty meaty and make a good salsa or a good sauce.
– [Mike] Right, that’s what they’re for and that. They’re really meaty and that, don’t have a lot of
seeds and that in it. – [Mary] You have some
really interesting cages. And we talked about that
just a little bit earlier. But what are these
cages made out of? – [Mike] They are made out
of the same wire and that that you use for cement, for putting in when
you pour cement. The kid that made ’em and that had done some research online and found a pattern for this, using this kind of wire. And they’re six foot long
by about a foot wide. And so there’s quite
a few different ones, and it makes it easy to
take up in the fall, too, and that, and store away,
get it out of the way. – [Mary] Well I bet
that they kind of store somewhat flat after
you’re over and done with and, like I said, you’ve got
such beautiful, big tomatoes, and they’re still
inside the cages, so they’re not
flopping on the ground. – [Mike] Yeah, the first
year, I didn’t have anything and trying to pick tomatoes that are laying all
over the ground, you couldn’t hardly
walk in there, it was really difficult. So I needed to do something. We’ve tried different
things, too. I’ve done other things
that have worked, too. – [Mary] This is
very, very good. And the fact that they
would store easily is really, really nice. But I just can’t get over the
size of the tomatoes here. I see you have some
potatoes back in the corner and you can’t even see those because the tomatoes
are so high. (laughs) – [Mike] Yeah, they’re up
against the fence and that. There’s some person asked if we could use
some potato seed and that. And I said, “Well, yeah, I
wasn’t gonna put any in.” They don’t grow well
here in this garden. But I thought, eh, if she
wants to give me some, we’ll plant ’em. – [Mary] Okay.
– [Mike] So we planted ’em. And they’ve been
growin’ great this year. – [Mary] Obviously something
else that’s growing great is your broccoli,
just beautiful. – [Mike] Yeah, we started
harvesting them and all. We’ve got some heads
that I harvested, about five heads, couple of
’em were smaller than that, and they weighed 10 pounds. So they’re pretty
big heads and that. Some of ’em will go 10
inches or so across. Every week, we’ll get a big bag, at least once a
week if not twice, of the side shoots,
all year long. That’s what I really
love about broccoli. It just keeps on going. Instead of being done like
the cauliflower over there. Once you pick it, that’s it. – [Mary] So once you
cut off the main head, then you harvest
off the side shoots for the rest of the season.
– [Mike] Right, yep. – [Mary] And it looks
like you have a lot of squash here, too. What kinds of squash
do you have available? – [Mike] Well, we have the
summer squash first here. And we have the
regular green zucchini and then we have some
yellow summer squash that basically tastes
the same and that as zucchini and that. They’re just yellow and
they’re more bulbous. They’re very good, they’re
very prolific like zucchini. (laughs) You gotta harvest
them at least once a week, if not more than that when
they really get going. – [Mary] (laughs) We
always joke about that during zucchini season. People have to lock
their doors, yeah. – [Mike] Yeah. – [Mary] But they’re
wonderful as far as having a large harvest. The one nice thing
about zucchini is they don’t vine all
over the garden, where it looks like some
of your other squash do tend to vine more
and use more space. – [Mike] Right, that’s
what’s real nice about the summer squash. You can put them
in a smaller space. Where our winter squash do travel all over and that. They vine real well. (chuckles) (jazzy piano music) – I have a question. I’m interested in growing
a unique pumpkin or squash in my garden. Can you recommend some
interesting varieties? – There are a lot
of great places now to get different,
unique varieties of
squash and pumpkins. And you can get
varieties like this, like an heirloom from Italy,
it’s Marina Di Chioggia. It is a seed
pumpkin that’s grown on the Amalfi coast. It’s amazing flesh inside, really, really great for eating. And it’s also really fun and
decorative on the outside. Another one is
Australian Butter. This is the most heavenly
squash that you’ll ever eat. It’s like, it’s like a pumpkin
creme brulee on the inside and really easy to
cook, creamy and nice. And I really like
it a lot better than the typical squash that
you might see in the stores, is the acorn squash. It’s kinda stringy, kind
of a little bit dull, not a whole lot of flavor. So I actually wanna
get a lot of people to try new varieties. Another great one is a
Japanese heirloom Kurimon. It’s really, really
amazingly interesting. It turns blue and then
as it starts to cure, it’ll actually turn
like a nice brown color. The inside is orange and
amazing, nice texture. Really tasty. Another variety, which I haven’t gotten
the opportunity to try, is Greek Sweet Red. Apparently it’s got red
flesh on the inside. It’s supposed to be really,
really nice, interesting, different squash variety. I look forward to
trying this one. Another great thing about squash is that the seeds are
highly nutritious. In a variety like Silver
Edge, it has hollow seeds. So it’s a lot easier to chew on. You can cook ’em, roast ’em up. And they provide a
lot of nutrition. Some other varieties
are purely ornamental, like the Caveman’s Club. Kind of a new variety for me. Kind of a weird
dinosaur lookin’ thing. And the Mini Red Turban. Kind of looks like a mushroom. All these seeds
for these squashes are found by just
looking up heirloom seed or rare seed for squash. Good luck choosing your
different varieties and your planting. – [Voiceover] Ask
the Arboretum Experts has been brought to you by the Minnesota Landscape
Arboretum in Chanhassen, dedicated to enriching lives through the appreciation
and knowledge of plants. – [Mary] It looks like
you’ve got quite a few different kinds of lettuce. And it surprises me that
it still looks so good because it’s been quite warm. How do you keep it from bolting? – Well, we have had some
of it bolt, some of that. And then we just cut it back. But if you keep cutting
it, it will keep coming, and keep it watered well, and we just keep on
going most of the year pretty well with it. And like I say, we do have
some different kinds and that. We have a couple different
kinds of loose leaf ones. And then we have
some mesclun mix that has different
varieties in it, like some arugula,
some mustard greens, along with different
kinds of loose lettuce. It kind of gives you,
arugula’s get you a peppery taste and that. So it’s kinda nice
in a salad and that to have that extra taste. – Are there some things
that you are growing that are new this year as compared to previous years? – Uh, yes, right here where
we’re standing and that, we have some herbs
we put in here. We’ve got some basil
and we’ve got some sage. We thought we’d try, they had the plants
this year and asked me if I wanted to try
it, and I thought, “Well, why not? “We’ll stick ’em in and see
if anybody wants to use ’em.” The basil definitely needs
to be picked right now. Sage, could be, some of it
could go a little bit longer. And then right next to you, we planted some leeks this year ’cause they had leek
plants available that they wanted to
know if I could use. So we planted the leeks, too. And they’re doin’ real
well it looks like. – [Mary] And it looks like
you’ve got some great peppers. And quite a few different
kinds of peppers, too, from what i see. – [Mike] Yes, we have mostly
the green bell peppers. We have some jalapenos. We have some sweet bananas and then another hotter
one, too, that I picked up. – [Mary] And beans. It almost looks like you’ve
got two different colors there. Is that right? – [Mike] Yes, we have
the regular green bean and we have yellow also. I like the yellow myself. And they’re a lot easier to pick because you can see them
easier in the vines. (laughs) – [Mary] And I bet you
the flavor is good, too. – [Mike] Yeah, I prefer
the flavor of ’em and that. I usually, if I’m gonna
boil some up and that, I put both together and that. But I like the
yellow ones myself. I don’t think they’re
as stringy and that. And I think they’re,
got a little bit, maybe a more buttery
type flavor to them. – [Mary] And I see that
you’ve got some peas, too. And a very nice netting. You have them crawling
up the netting. – [Mike] Yeah, putting
a fence around your, on your peas rows and that, helps them grow up and
makes it easier to pick. So you don’t have
to bend over as much and dig through vines that
are laying on the ground. It just, you know, makes it
a lot easier to pick ’em. – [Mary] And I’ll bet helps
with disease resistance, too. – [Mike] Sure, yeah,
get ’em off the ground any time you can get ’em up. You’re much better than
laying on wet ground. – [Mary] Well, thank
you so much, Mike, for taking the time
and being willing to show us your beautiful
community garden, which provides so much
good in your county and I guess even in
your city of Glenwood. – Well, thank you for coming. I was very happy to show you and hope that maybe
somebody else, some other communities
would get the idea. That’s what I like to do,
and education and that, I like to teach people how
to grow for themselves. – [Mary] Thank you. – [Voiceover] Additional
support provided by Mark and Margaret Yackel-Juleen, in honor of Shalom Hill Farm, a non-profit, rural
education retreat center in a beautiful prairie setting near Windom in
southwestern Minnesota. (jazzy piano music)

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