Vegetable gardening is on a roll, and there’s no slowdown in sight. As the world fights the pandemic, the scramble to plant vegetables is reminiscent of the Victory Gardens of World Wars I and II — and the desire for fresh, nutritious vegetables, coupled with more time at home, has inspired a gardening increase not seen for decades.

What if you have no garden, no space, no tools and no experience? I’ve got just the answer: Join the highly successful Growing Together Community Gardens.

It’s a unique concept of sharing the work and sharing the harvest, making vegetable gardening possible for apartment dwellers, condo owners and everyone who might not have a space to garden otherwise. Even if you do have a spot to garden, you might enjoy this program even more.

This gardening concept is unique. We’re all familiar with municipal public garden spaces divided into plots and rented to individuals who tend and harvest their own separately marked space. Growing Together Community Gardens is completely different. These are truly community gardens.

Everyone is invited to enroll, work and share the bounty by investing two hours a week planting, weeding, watering and harvesting. Together, everyone shares the work and everyone shares the harvest. There’s no fee and no plants or seeds to purchase. Everything necessary is provided. You don’t even need to know anything about gardening, as you’ll be shown everything necessary.

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The Growing Together Community Gardens program now includes multiple gardens in Fargo that serve over 150 families. Special to The Forum
The Growing Together Community Gardens program now includes multiple gardens in Fargo that serve over 150 families. Special to The Forum

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the community garden organization, which started in 2006 as a small garden with eight families and has now expanded to six gardens serving over 150 families. Working with new American families was the initial focus, but participation quickly expanded to include all members of the community. The program bases its success on a strong team including core leaders, leaders at each garden location and gardening participant volunteers who enroll.

Participants register for involvement in one of six gardens located in Fargo. Each specific garden meets at the same time each week, and sessions last an average of two hours.

A typical day at a garden session starts with the core leaders and garden leaders arriving early to discuss the plan for the session and get the needed tools and supplies ready for the gardening participants. Participants are assigned to garden leaders who work on specific tasks to be completed in the garden. At harvest, the produce is shared equally by the number of volunteers at the garden.

Growing Together Community Gardens is now celebrating its 15th anniversary in Fargo. Special to The Forum
Growing Together Community Gardens is now celebrating its 15th anniversary in Fargo. Special to The Forum

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Participants are encouraged to donate produce they won’t consume in the following week, and in 2020 over 8,000 pounds of vegetables were donated to local food pantries and kitchens.

Growing Together Community Gardens has also developed an informational tool kit to help other communities, groups or organizations with details needed to begin gardening projects. The informational kit is available on their website, and has helped gardening projects at Fargo’s Island Park, as well as Fargo Public Library and the Dr. James Carlson branch.

The organization will embark this year on its largest project yet, as it partners with Fargo’s Gethsemane Cathedral for a new community garden on property adjacent to the church. The public is invited to the groundbreaking, scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Thursday, April 15, at the church, 3600 25th St. S. Information will also be available describing how to become a part of Growing Together Community Gardens.

Growing Together Community Gardens' largest project yet will happen this year when it partners with Fargo's Gethsemane Cathedral, seen here in May 2010 at 3600 25th St. S. in south Fargo, for a new community garden. Forum file photo
Growing Together Community Gardens' largest project yet will happen this year when it partners with Fargo's Gethsemane Cathedral, seen here in May 2010 at 3600 25th St. S. in south Fargo, for a new community garden. Forum file photo

Growing Together has openings for new participant volunteers for the upcoming gardening season. To become a full share volunteer, a 16-hour commitment is required, and no gardening experience is necessary. Education is an ongoing part, especially since nine North Dakota State University Master Gardeners work with the program.

For more information, including a link to register, visit https://www.growingtogetherfm.org/. Garden locations and times are also listed.

Don Kinzler, a lifelong gardener, is the horticulturist with North Dakota State University Extension for Cass County. Readers can reach him at donald.kinzler@ndsu.edu.