Rental plots at the Forest Street Community Garden are still available to new and returning gardeners, and a new feature will be added this year to offer some of what is grown there to people passing by.
Applications for the plots are being accepted and will be available until sold out, according to a press release from the organization.
The community gardening effort is entering its eighth year of growing vegetables for individual plot holders, members of the shared garden effort and for donation to the Community Table for meals to people in need of them. The garden has some 15 plots left for individuals to rent, and about the same amount of space is still available in the shared garden area, which contains over half an acre.
The Forest Street garden is one of five large local community gardens. It contains more than 60 individual rental plots, and all have been rented in most past years.
For the first time, garden enthusiasts this year will maintain perennial fruits and nuts in the parking lot green space at the corner of Madison and Forest Streets. These are intended for harvesting by passersby.
Joining the shared garden is a great opportunity for those new to gardening, according to the organization. Callie Herron, a new member of the shared garden, joined with little gardening experience and as someone new to town.
“The garden has given me the confidence to grow and process my own food,” Herron said. “Equally important is the sense of community the garden creates over morning harvests and delicious potlucks.”
Private garden plots are available for $35 for a space 20 feet square. Additional plots are available for $30. Shared Garden memberships can be purchased for $20 per person or $35 per family through June 15. Membership entitles participants to learn about gardening and harvest what they grow.
Garden founder Andrew Werthmann said that shared garden members “learn from each other as they prepare soil, plant seeds and seedlings, water, weed and witness the ‘fruits’ of their labor” ripen for harvest.
“It’s amazing to see new gardeners connect with seasoned veterans over a shared lemon cucumber or sunny weeding session,” he added.
Surplus vegetables from the shared garden will be donated to the Community Table. individual plot holders are also encouraged to donate vegetables they can’t use.
Information about local community gardens is available at www.eauclairecommunitygardens.com, which provides links to the gardens’ websites. Information specifically about the Forest Street garden can be found here.
The Forest Street Community Garden is a collaborative effort focused on providing urban residents with the vision, knowledge and experience needed to grow their own food. Located near Phoenix Park in downtown Eau Claire, the garden is run jointly by volunteers who share in both the work and the harvest.
While dedicated to working with all members of the Eau Claire community, the garden is particularly aware that many community residents face issues of financial hardship and food scarcity. It therefore donates thousands of pounds of food each year the Community Table, WIC (Women Infants and Children Program) and other nonprofit agencies with similar goals.