Growing interest for a community garden

Do you want fresh vegetables? What if that fresh produce was right in your back yard?

New tree

By COLE BENZ | Record Editor |

Hettinger resident Mike Cox is in the early process of starting a community garden movement. A former resident of Anchorage, Alaska, Cox recently finished his North Dakota Master Gardner training and would like to spread the knowledge.

Cox was previously a Master Gardner in Alaska, and when he arrived in North Dakota in April 2015, he wanted to earn his certification here to learn the particulars of this state. With that certification, Cox is required to accumulate 24 volunteer hours, so he thought that starting a community garden would be a great way to accrue that time.

Cox has been gardening off and on since he was a child, and he has over 20 years of extensive gardening experience as an adult.

Finishing his course work this past December, Cox hopes to get the community garden project going by the end of the month.

On Feb. 20, Cox will be hosting an introductory meeting at Prairie Rose Floral on Main Street in Hettinger. The meeting, set to start at 9:30 a.m., will be to gauge interest from the community. Cox said he will get a sense of what direction he wants to bring the community garden by talking to the audience, he wants the people to really dictate the path the project should take.

“Who shows up will set the agenda,” Cox said.

He wants to see how much gardening experience people have, and noted that people with even minimal experience should attend the meeting.

“If they don’t have any experience, that’s fine, I can teach them, we can learn together on this,” Cox said.

Cox also thought this community garden project could foster education, saying that perhaps the more experience gardeners could help those wanting to learn the practice.

“We are going to see who shows up and what their ideas are, and take it from there,” Cox said.

With the growing concern of healthcare and self improvement, people are starting to care more about what they eat. And part of that movement, Cox said, is why gardening can be so important.

“You know where your food comes from if you can walk out the door and pick it,” Cox said. “And that’s really important.”

Down the road, Cox hopes that the group can gather together one night a week to work on the garden as a whole. Then, when the vegetables are ready to be harvested, have a group potluck consisting of everybody’s grown food.

He will ask one thing of the group when it’s organized and they are ready to start gardening; plant a row of food to give to the food bank. Cox works in close proximity with the food bank and knows that any community’s pantry would enjoy having fresh, homegrown produce.

Right now Cox doesn’t have a plot to start the garden, but that he’s hoping suggestions from the people attending the meeting will help find a suitable spot.

Cox reiterated his desire to attract any level of gardener to the meeting, and said you shouldn’t be worried about being inexperienced in gardening.

“People shouldn’t feel shy about coming if they have no experience,” Cox said. “We can all learn this together.”