Green thumb alert! Edina gets a community garden

  • Article by: MARY JANE SMETANKA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 10, 2013 - 10:35 AM

No pesticides will be permitted in the 55 community plots.

Joni Bennett, Edina City Council member

After years of discussion, Edina has approved its first community garden plots.

The 55 garden plots will open to gardeners on May 18, weather permitting, at Yorktown Park near the Southdale YMCA. There will be parking, a water source and fencing to keep critters out.

As of Wednesday morning, all garden plots were reserved for this season. Ten-by-10 foot gardens cost $25 and a 10-by-15-foot plot is $30. Edina residents and people who work in Edina had priority, followed by nonresidents. To get on a wait list for a garden, people can call Vera at 952-826-0437.

The plan to establish a community garden pilot project was not without controversy. It passed the City Council last week on a 4-1 vote, with member Joni Bennett voting “no.”

Bennett wondered if a garden was the wisest use of the small park site, pointing out that nearby apartments are attracting more young families but that the nearest playground is in Richfield. She also disagreed with the decision to put a permanent parking lot near the gardens.

“What happens if the garden does not continue?” she asked. “We have a parking lot we do not need.”

The YMCA has proposed paying for and maintaining the lot, which would have designated parking spots for gardeners and serve as an overflow lot for the Y. The estimated cost of construction is $66,000. The city will build the lot and be reimbursed by the Y.

Edina Parks and Recreation Director Ann Kattreh told the council that she considers community gardens an ideal use for a park that is all green space and is too small for an athletic field.

“It hasn’t had a lot of use because of the lack of access and parking,” she said. “This whole area has been under­utilized.”

The gardens will be surrounded by a 4-foot-tall black vinyl-covered chain link fence, with an 800-gallon water tank that will be filled by park staff. The garden space will be laced with wood chip-covered walkways. A couple of plots are reserved for Y use, and a few others for use by disabled people.

Total cost to the city this year is about $21,000, including costs of soil testing, the fence, tilling, a compost bin and marketing and promotion. Kattreh said that in future years, costs to the city should drop to less than $2,000 a year.

Edina joins other west metro cities, including Bloomington, Hopkins and Minnetonka, Minneapolis, Plymouth and St. Louis Park, that have community gardens. Edina will prohibit insecticide and herbicide use, allow planting only of annuals and require gardeners to keep up with weeding.

Gardens must be planted by June 3, unless the city is notified, and materials must be out of the ground by Oct. 30.

Because the gardens are getting a late start this year, Kattreh said the city may leave any plots that are not rented fallow this year. But judging from what happened last week on the day the city began accepting applications, that may not be an issue.

Before the day was out, the city had received more than 20 requests for garden plots. That was before applications had been distributed to nearby apartment buildings.

To complement the opening of the community gardens, the city has set up free gardening classes taught by a master gardener at the Y on April 19 and May 17 from 6 to 8 p.m. More information is on the community garden website listed above.

 

Mary Jane Smetanka • 612-673-7380

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