Editor’s note: Gimme 5 is a five-question interview on a topic of local interest.
Can you define “community garden” and explain how many there are in Eau Claire and how they work?
A community gardening is essentially a place where community garden members come together to grow their own food. Not everyone has the ability or opportunity to grow in their backyard, so a community garden is often a great alternative as it is hosted on public land, such as in a park. In Eau Claire we have six community gardens. Most gardens rent out individual plots, and the Forest Street Community Garden offers both individual plots and a “shared garden” where community members garden together and harvest together in one large area.
How and when should potential gardeners go about obtaining a rental plot?
People interested in gardening can sign up now. Please visit the Community Garden website (eauclairecommunitygardens.com) and follow the link for the garden you wish to join.
Please note that you do not have to join the garden closest to you, but often that’s what's done for convenience. Certainly if one garden has filled up, you can choose to join another one.
I see the Forest Street Community Garden also has a “shared garden,” so what exactly is that and why would someone choose to go that route?
The shared garden at the Forest Street Community Garden brings together a group of folks who garden together. It’s usually between 30 and 40 members. By committing to the group with an annual membership ($20 for an individual and $35 for a family membership) and putting in volunteer hours, you are able to take home food. This is a great opportunity for those who seek to meet other gardeners, maybe can't commit to a plot themselves or are new to gardening and want to learn more. The shared garden donates produce to The Community Table as well — a meaningful connection we have developed over the last 8 years.
What are some of the things you've seen people grow at Forest Street Community Garden, and what's new this year?
We have folks growing everything from sweet corn to artichokes to sunflowers — you name it! This year we expect another great season, with over 200 gardeners across Eau Claire renting a plot to grow their own food. New this year, garden enthusiasts will be maintaining perennial fruits and nuts around the parking lot green space at the corner of Madison Street and Forest Street that can be harvested by passersby.
Who is attracted to the community garden concept and why?
People come to community gardening for many different reasons, but the primary ones are to meet their neighbors and make friends, to grow healthy fresh food, to lower their grocery bill and just because they love being outside and doing something meaningful and rewarding.
— Eric Lindquist