Diggin’ Dirt: Fresh-from-the-Garden Produce Can’t Be Beat

As a child, I hated helping my mother pull weeds in her garden. Her well-tended plot usually required little care, but our assistance was requested sporadically. I begrudgingly yanked those weeds out of the ground, cursing their very existence.

Despite my dislike for weeding, I loved all the fresh produce my mother grew—tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, green beans, and carrots. Vegetables grown in a greenhouse just can’t compare with those ripened naturally by the sun.

After becoming a homeowner, I ventured into my own gardening foray. I started with three tomato plants housed in our river rock, then graduated to a raised garden bed that included even more veggies. This summer, my husband and I are co-gardening with a couple whose yard already offered a garden plot.

I can admit that I’m older now, so I recognize that hard work is the harbinger of something worthwhile.

Get Dirty: Go Gardening

If you’ve been wanting to get your hands in some dirt, do it! Gardening has numerous health benefits, such as relieving stress, fighting attention fatigue, boosting your mood, improving dexterity, regulating your immune system, and increasing your confidence.

You have a variety of options available to you if you’d like to garden in your own backyard (think containers and raised beds) and your apartment (with window pots and planters), or you could check out community garden plots. In Fargo-Moorhead, you can choose from a variety of efforts. Many stipulate who can help or where the produce goes, but a few are open to the general public.

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Farm in the Dell Red River Valley tends a large portion of the Catalyst Community Garden.

Catalyst Medical Center offers community garden plots on either side of its facility at 1800 21st Avenue South in Fargo. A majority of the east plot is tended by Farm in the Dell of the Red River Valley, while the rest is available to the general public.

The plot to the west is managed by Growing Together, a partnership between First United Methodist, Olivet Lutheran, and new American families to garden together and form friendships.

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Volunteers with Farm in the Dell tend their garden plot.

Farm in the Dell formed three years ago with the intention to create a farm where people with disabilities could volunteer and the produce grown would help the disabled community, explained Board Member Karen Urlacher.

Twice a week volunteers gather to tend the one-third-acre plot, and volunteers assist with the sale of the produce. Volunteer Coordinator Mandy Johnson also works with area organizations that serve the disabled community to get them involved with the garden.

Catalyst Founder Susan Mathison explained that offering the community garden fits with the organization’s mission to help others lead happier, healthier, more beautiful lives. This is the seventh year Catalyst has provided community garden space.

Other community gardens available for little to no cost include the Nativity Community Garden, Oak Grove Park Community Garden, Probstfield Organic Community Garden, and Yunker Farms Community Garden.

8376313327_9619145988_bStay Clean: Join a CSA, Shop Locally

If you aren’t keen on the idea of growing your own food but still want to enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables, check out a local community-supported agriculture (CSA) organization such as Bluebird Gardens, Kragnes Family Farms, Red Goose Gardens, Lakes and Valley, Yellow Bird/Larsen Farm, Lida Farms, Feather Pond Farm, and Meadow Farm Foods.

Purchasing a share in a local CSA means enjoying a bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables for the 20-week season, as well as the possibility of harvest events.

If you’re worried that a CSA would provide too much produce that you couldn’t consume, be sure to check out a local farmers market to purchase just the right amount of fruits and veggies you need. (If you live downtown, you’ll have access to the Red River Market beginning July 11.)

And just think, no weeding!

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