"This isn't a production garden, it's a teaching garden," said Dan Taivalkoski, executive director of the Racine County Food Bank, looking around at the extensive urban farm behind his distribution warehouse on DeKoven Avenue.
Of course, he then immediately let slip that more than 1,200 pounds of produce had come out of the Teaching Garden so far this year -- and another 7,500 pounds from the Garden of Giving behind Lakeside Curative Services. Or is it 7,800 pounds? Ah, who's counting.
Those totals do not include potatoes yet to be dug up, of course. Nor squash. Nor whatever else is harvested in the next couple of months.
Two-dozen Master Gardeners celebrated the Teaching Garden's success
The success of Racine's two new teaching gardens was celebrated with an afternoon party Thursday afternoon. Extension advisors Patti Nagai and Bev Baker offered thanks to the Master Gardeners and Master Composters (No, I didn't make up that last title!) who helped educate the many Racine Unified schoolchildren, HALO kids and community members in the mysteries of vegetable growing. And composting. And rain gardening.
Even Mayor John Dickert, on hand to join the celebration, got a quick lesson, when he mentioned "dirt" and was instantly given the correct term: "SOIL!"
Taivalkoski was also quick to thank the many partners who made the new garden a reality: SC Johnson, for example, which provided 100 truckloads of dir... um, soil; Roundy's Foundation and the United Way for cash; free labor by members of the Bricklayers, Carpenters and Roofers unions to build the garden's pavilion, and some two-dozen raised garden beds.
The Master Gardeners offered classes all summer (there'll be another one in January) and impromptu lessons to anyone who found the garden. ("We need more signs," one said.) It's all part of their effort "to teach the community they can grow their own vegetables nine months of the year," according to Nagai.
She looked around at the verdant beds, the tomatoes and peppers, cauliflower plants, peas, cilantro, even some corn and flowers. "Things like this just don't happen," she said.
"The Garden of Giving and The Teaching Garden have had a fabulous year, thanks to many wonderful and dedicated volunteers," said Taivalkoski, already looking ahead to a bigger harvest next year.
The gardening season is far from over...
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