Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Urban gardens flourish

Gardens in the city

By Sam Elmquist

Caption: UPPER RIGHT: Jeff and Laura Greensmith stand outside their house East Hillside home at 1119 E. 5th Street. (Photo by Naomi Yaeger-Bischoff)

The Urban Garden Tour opened a collection of inner city gardens around Duluth, from Park Point to scattered areas along the Hillside and Lincoln Park on September 18. Neighbors had the chance to look and talk with the gardeners participating about what it means to have a sustainable garden in Duluth.

Each garden had its own variety of produce, including tomatoes, various peppers, strawberries, garlic, onions, potatoes, and a whole range of greens that are harvested at different times throughout our Duluth growing season. These local farmers harvest an abundance of crops that they eat themselves, but the crops are usually far too abundant for one household, and so the wealth is shared. The ability to share and to grow is what gardening in the city is about.

Two Duluth gardeners, Michael Gabler and Kristin Stuchis, live at 432 E. 10th St. and care for a big backyard plot of crops and a chicken coop. This house and garden are not only great in their own respect but are surrounded by two other flourishing gardens that their neighbors manage, as well as a public orchard across the street. Michael spoke of an idea he called the “growing revolution” that we can see is in effect, at least in his neck of the woods if not all around Duluth. There is a community of gardeners and a fair share of them cooperate with each other; for instance, Michael and Kristin use a movable greenhouse created by another gardener, Jay Newcomb.

Jeff Greensmith, 1119 E. 5th Street, runs a bit of a different ship. His garden takes up most of his front yard and runs alongside to the back where he has some more crops. Unique to this garden is an abundance of hops that he grows in various areas around his house. Vines of it run up ropes, around sticks, and along fences throughout his garden. Jeff’s hops plants vary in age but yield him all he could ever need. Interestingly, Jeff says Duluth has one of the longest growing seasons, which gives growers till late October before the frost wreaks havoc on their plants.

At 1230 E. 8th Street, Jay and Mary-B Newcomb have a magnificent back-yard garden with a dragon-topped greenhouse of Jay’s design. With 28 years of gardening experience, these veterans of the craft support apple trees of varying breeds, including a new breed called a Zestar, as well as pear and cherry trees. This year some of the trees have not yielded any fruit because, Jay explains, this spring’s warm weather caused the trees to flower too early. The bugs came out at their regular time and missed their chance to pollinate the flowers.

Regardless of any flowering issues this season, it’s hard to deny that Duluth’s urban farmers all fare pretty well. Duluth has a great community of gardeners who are flourishing in a city atmosphere, and one can only hope that idea grows and grows.

Learn more at:
Lake Superior Sustainable Farming Association ~ 218.393.3276 ~

Duluth Community Garden Program
~ ~ 218.722.4583