This week on the blog, we are featuring two guest bloggers: Kim, the Site Coordinator and Farm Manager for Loaves & Fishes, and Gia, the Garden Coordinator for St. Therese. Both gardens are a part of Tonkadale’s Grow and Give Program which generates thousands of pounds of fresh produce for those who need it most. Through the Grow and Give Program, Tonkadale provides vegetable starts, onion and potato sets, and seeds to community gardens that raise produce for the ICA Food Shelf.

Loaves & Fishes’ Farm For All

From Kimberly Greene-DeLanghe:

“Our one acre garden had a rough start this summer when it was hit by a hail storm that destroyed about 50% of our planned crops on June 11th. The only crops left standing were onions, garlic, and perennial herbs. After that setback, we hit the ground running with support from all directions! Tonkadale Greenhouse delivered a whole truck full of new starts and many greenhouses offered their extra tomatoes. In just two weeks, 150 volunteers had planted replacements for what was lost.

We have had a few minor issues with disease and reduced yields since the storm, but overall it has been a great season. Tonkadale has continued to support Loaves & Fishes through their Grow & Give Program, providing biweekly lettuce starts and donating an irrigation main line with garden hose connections. Now we can more easily water new starts and seeds with overhead sprinklers. The lettuce starts have grown into over 200 pounds of salad greens and we have harvested more than 2,700 pounds of produce that contributed to 10,000 meals served to guests at our free dining sites across the metro.

We’re currently wrapping up the season by tilling in summer crops and planting a winter rye and hairy vetch cover crop to stifle weeds and build the soil. There are still numerous crops in the ground, so we’ll keep farming until the hard freeze tells us the season is over. Farm volunteer opportunities remain plentiful. To learn more or to sign up to help please visit the Loaves and Fishes website or email farmforall@loavesandfishesmn.org.”

The Garden at St. Therese

From Gia Sundbo, Linda and Julia Ruelle:

“Travel west on Minnetonka Blvd any Saturday morning in summer and you will most likely see a multi-generational group of people laughing and smiling as they work in the Garden at St. Therese in Deephaven. There is much more to the “plot” of this garden story than one can see by just passing by. Last year the garden donated over 4,100 lbs. of fresh produce to the ICA Food Shelf, making it the largest church garden contributor of fresh produce to ICA that year. This summer the produce from the garden will also help to feed the homeless at St. Stephen’s in Minneapolis once a month.

Anyone is welcome to enter the garden through special gates, rest on the custom benches and see our compost bins – all built by Eagle Scouts. Many plants and seeds are donated by Tonkadale Greenhouse. In addition, one gardener turns his lower level family room into a greenhouse every winter for the 150 tomato plants and other vegetables planted in the garden. This spring, the garden received a generous donation of JavaCycle organic fertilizer and is one of four giving gardens in their Great Tomato Growing Contest.

Deephaven Woods has gifted the proceeds from their residents’ Cinco de Mayo fundraiser to the garden fund the past two years. Proceeds from the fundraiser go toward purchasing equipment and tools for the garden. Residents help in the garden frequently, providing both wisdom and elbow-grease, and are able to enjoy the garden at any time.

ICA’s most popular vegetables are grown in abundance. These include sweet peppers, onions, radishes, cucumbers, carrots, celery, green beans, tomatoes, summer squash, winter squash, and melons. Favorite activities among the gardeners include hunting for zucchini, weaving through tomato plants, and waiting to harvest the biggest watermelon!”

Read the full Deephaven Life article

All of these gardeners are doing great work in the community. Consider getting involved with one of these organizations or starting a community garden at your place of work, church or school. We have so much to give: our time, our talents, our knowledge and our resources.

Tonkadale is a greenhouse. We have a source for seeds and we can grow a pretty good veggie crop. We are happy to give so you can grow. Send us your Grow and Give garden requests and proposals between now and April 1st.