Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Aneta Community Orchard and Garden Project (Part 1)

 In our rich agricultural area, it is important to remember that people sometimes have difficulty putting food on the table. Families live from paycheck to paycheck. The elderly struggle to afford nutritious fruits and vegetables. Schools and nursing homes work to provide produce to those who dine at their tables. 
It seemed like a good idea from the start: Plant and nurture an orchard and garden that would benefit everyone in our community.
Plans began, as many things do, around a table with a cup of coffee. It would take land, expertise, time energy, money, water...
At first, it was simply dreams, with lists, notes, plans and sketches. Bill has a Master's degree from the University of Minnesota in Horticulture. He has years of experience as a truck gardener and organic farmer. Janice has recently completed the Master Gardener course through the extension service. We carefully applied for a grant to start the project.
The Aneta Specialty Crop Group was awarded a grant by the state to plan and plant an orchard. Soon we were taking soil samples and exploring site options.The Aneta Community Orchard and Garden was underway.
The city of Aneta offered land just North of its platted lots which proved to be suitable. Local farmers and city residents worked together to break the sod, deep rip, fertilize and prepare the chosen site for planting.
We are fortunate to have qualified experts in our midst, with horticulture and gardening expertise.
With enthusiastic participation from many in the community, and several more pots of coffee plus a little lunch to fortify us, the experts were able to devise a workable plan for the 
Aneta Community Orchard and Garden.
We learned that while our region is not traditionally an orchard spot, with proper protection from wind, deer, rodents, and other pests, it is possible to grow fruit and nut trees in our climate. Research, especially that done through our land grant universities in Minnesota and the Dakotas has greatly increased the chances of success for fruit to appear on trees planted in this area.
In addition to the trees we could plant grapes, asparagus, berries and other sustainable perennials that would help feed families, the elderly, children in schools, anyone, everyone. We will make garden plots available at minimum cost to anyone interested in raising a garden.  The project could help assure that no one anywhere in the GriggsDakota area goes hungry. 
More on the project tomorrow.


  1. Congrats on your grant and good luck!

  2. Alanna Brakke RerickFebruary 27, 2013 at 9:03 AM

    Great post! I enjoyed reading it...and had no idea it existed.

  3. Bill Miller:
    Great project! Would you be interested in speaking at the ND Urban and Community Forestry Conference on January 27th. There is interest in community orchards. Please let me know - thanks.
    -Wayne Beyer (701-642-2811 or