This article by MSHS Community Outreach Manager Courtney Tchida originally appeared in the January/February 2021 issue of Northern Gardener.
Year in Review: Garden-in-a-Box and Minnesota Green
Covid-19 may have shut down schools and local businesses, but it certainly didn’t stop our program participants from growing. We were inspired to dig even deeper—finding ways to continue bringing plants, seeds, tools and education to our resilient and enthusiastic partners, who were eager to grow as gardeners this past year.
In 2020, 49 organizations forged ahead as part of our Garden-in-a-Box (GIAB) outreach program. We distributed 208 new garden-circle kits and supplied 286 garden circles to returning groups. Our GIAB kits reached 121 sites across Minnesota, from Bryon Public Schools to Redwood County 4H in Redwood Falls, and from Tri Valley Opportunity Council in Crookston to Kickstart Preschool in Two Harbors. GIAB reached more than 3,600 people, each box serving an average of seven people. Participants harvested over 3,000 pounds of food from their boxes, which fed program participants, their families and communities.
“My favorite part of the program is having the kids get excited to pick the produce when they see it is ready and then having them eat it,” said Deb Archer of Kickstart Preschool in Two Harbors. In the wake of the pandemic, our partner organizations got creative and found new ways to deliver quality programing and gardening experiences safely. Big thanks to all our participants and donors, especially Cargill and the St. Paul Garden Club, who make this program possible.
Our other outreach program, Minnesota Green, received 54 donations from plant sales, garden centers, landscape nurseries and individuals in 2020. More than 55,000 plants, valued at $85,000, were distributed to 165 community gardens throughout Minnesota.
Minnesota Green brings communities together, greening public spaces and introducing native plants and pollinator habitat in urban areas. In 2020 alone, Minnesota Green served over 6,000 gardeners in 165 public garden spaces. Special thanks to Highland Nursery, Lilydale Garden Center, Pahl’s Marketplace, Sunnyside Gardens, The Garden By the Woods and Tonkadale Nursery for their donations to this program.
To learn more or sign up for these outreach programs, see our listings about Garden-in-a-Box and Minnesota Green.