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Share the work and share the harvest at Growing Together Community Gardens

Gardening columnist Don Kinzler says the unique model of community gardens in this Fargo-based program has attracted national and worldwide attention.

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Working together, volunteers grow an increasing amount of vegetables each year in Fargo's Growing Together Community Gardens.
Contributed / Growing Together Community Gardens
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FARGO — The Growing Together Community Gardens in Fargo aren’t your run-of-the-mill public vegetable gardens. The award-winning unique model has caught national and worldwide attention.

When you hear the term "community garden," what comes to mind? You might picture a large garden tract, probably urban, divided into smaller plots and rented to individuals or families who tend and harvest their own separately marked space.

That’s one definition of a community garden, in which each plot does their own thing. There’s not a whole lot of community going on in that model, when it’s each person for themselves.

There’s a more interactive definition, though, that involves community members coming together, gardening jointly and splitting the vegetables produced. That’s a method Growing Together Community Gardens has perfected, and everyone’s invited to participate.

Growing Together will celebrate its 16th year in 2022, first starting with a garden in south Fargo at the home of the former Good News Church with a plot measuring 100 feet by 100 feet.

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Full-share volunteers must contribute at least 20 hours of work to the community gardens.
Contributed / Growing Together Community Gardens

The initial group included eight family plots maintained by new American families and one of the leaders. The remaining garden area was planted and cared for by an entire group of volunteers. Today, Growing Together Community gardens are all communal, with the produce shared equally by those participating as full-share volunteers.

Since that inaugural garden, Growing Together has expanded to eight locations around the metropolitan area. Their most recent garden is located at the Gethsemane Episcopal Cathedral in south Fargo, which will host a market garden, share garden and family garden. Organic methods are practiced in all gardens, and no chemicals are used.

The group’s motto is “Many hands make light work,” and each garden is maintained by a group of garden leads, garden leaders and volunteers. The leads plan and organize the activities for the week. Garden leaders guide groups of the volunteers in the garden to perform the tasks needed to maintain the gardens, such as planting, weeding, pruning, watering and harvesting.

One of the requirements to be a full-share member is to devote a minimum of 20 hours in the gardens. Each of the gardens meets at a specific time and day every week, with sessions normally running two hours.

Growing Together is an award-winning program. In 2015, the team received the group award for Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Nola Storm received the individual MLK award in 2020 for her work in the new American community. Growing Together provides new Americans a place to help them transition into the community, besides providing nutritious food.

One of the garden’s founders, Jack Wood, was recognized with the Magic Hero award for his work in the community. This award included a professional video featuring the Growing Together Gardens, which can be found at growingtogetherfm.org .

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Jack Wood received the RCA Award in 2021 with a donation of $5,000 for the Growing Together Community Gardens.
Contributed / Growing Together Community Gardens

Growing Together even published a 102-page cookbook in 2021 featuring recipes from volunteers, directed by Julie Garden-Robinson, North Dakota State University Extension food and nutrition specialist. The cookbooks will be available at the market garden this summer and also at the Gethsemane Episcopal Cathedral office, 3600 25th St. S., Fargo, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday.

Growing Together also has a Garden Toolkit that can be used by organizations interested in starting this type of community garden. For example, Growing Together is working with a church in Ray, N.D., to start a community garden in conjunction with their new food pantry. The toolkit can be ordered by emailing Jack Wood at jackstomatoes@gmail.com.

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To support the program without charging participants, produce is sold from a market garden running Tuesdays in August and September at Gethsemane Cathedral. All of the proceeds support the community gardening program.

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Volunteers take a break from gardening at the community garden located at south Fargo's Gethsemane Episcopal Cathedral.
Contributed / Growing Together Community Gardens

Growing Together Community Gardens is looking forward to more volunteers joining who want to garden with the group, and the team says by working together the world will be a better place.

Together everyone shares the work and everyone shares the harvest. There are no fees, and no plants, seeds or tools to purchase. Everything necessary is provided. You don’t need to know anything about gardening, as you’ll be shown everything necessary.

To join Growing Together Community Gardens, visit their website at growingtogetherfm.org. The website includes times, locations and a link for registering. A volunteer commitment of 20 hours is required to receive a full share of produce harvested.

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.

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.
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