Thursday, January 16, 2014

February 2013 Farmer Fred Award Runner-Up: Aneta Community Orchard and Garden

Farmers build their lives on faith and hope. They gamble on goodness, in a sense, by putting time and money into planting a crop into Spring's cold black earth. Farmers truly believe that there is life in the dead looking seed, the sun will warm the land, the rains will come. Every year begins with optimism.
It is the distinct faith that allows a group of volunteers to believe that an orchard can grow in our area. This is another example of combining art and science. There are many of us who appreciate the art of blossoms and fruit, nuts, vegetables and flowers. There are those among us that understand the ever improving science that could allow that to happen, even in our harsh environment. Bill, who works with us in GriggsDakota and his sister Janice are experts with trees and gardens. Without them, we would not have attempted this project.
The support from the community and former residents has been amazing and heartwarming. We have already begun to plan for the upcoming season, just as farmers in the area are doing. If you would like to support this project with a contribution, please send your donation to:
 The Aneta Orchard Project
%First Financial Bank
PO Box 226
Aneta, North Dakota 58212

The February 2013 Farmer Fred Award Runner-Up for February 2013 is presented to:
The Aneta Community Orchard and Garden (Part One)
originally published February 27, 2013
 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 of North Dakota 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 and Friday.
In July, the nearly famous Marilyn Hagerty visited the beautiful Aneta Community Orchard and Gardens near GriggsDakota.

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