Monday, June 2, 2014

Aneta Community Orchard and Gardens Begin Again

There is a definite growing season in GriggsDakota. It begins with a thaw and ends with a freeze. Each year the duration and the brutality varies. Often it is a very long and very cold Winter in the Northern Great Plains. Raising crops is tricky, but raising an orchard... That takes patience and perseverance. 
Thanks to improved varieties and knowledge of trees, the Aneta Community Orchard and Gardens has been planted and is growing. It started with a dream and a grant from the state of North Dakota. It has grown into a cheerful gathering place.
Farmer Fred and all the other gardeners inside the fence have big dreams of flowers and vegetables in their privately rented garden spots. You may wonder why we would have a garden away from our farmstead. The reasons are:
1. There is a fence around the Aneta Community Orchard and Garden. 
2. For a modest rental fee, the garden spot is tilled and readied in the Spring, which is a very busy season on the farm.
3. It is a nice to be away from the place where we work. This spot is generally quiet.
4. It is a chance to work together and visit. 
Beyond the privately rented garden area, there is a public baby orchard. Our dream is to ensure that residents in the area have access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
In the public gardens we are trying to get asparagus established. 
It looks as if there will be rhubarb available soon. 
 The currants bloomed and may produce some berries, if we net them and the birds don't get them first.
There are always birds singing. It inspired one of our volunteers to build them homes. 
We hope that in three or four years, this orchard will be really something to behold. It has the potential to provide food for our nursing home, schools and community members. Traditionally fresh fruits and vegetables are expensive to buy and difficult to grow. We are experimenting with varieties that are expected to be hardy in our area.
As you can see in the photo above, some trees make it and others died during our long harsh Winter. That is part of the learning process. 
We have a volunteer that is experimenting with deer repellent mixtures. We experiment with recycling. 
Our rodent guards were air filters in tractors in their previous useful existence.  
 Our signs are made of water tank plastic that has been hand engraved and painted. 
There are garden and plant experts that understand science and research possibilities. 
Some people have greener thumbs than others. It is more fun that way.  
The radishes are up in the public garden. 
And so are the potatoes. Food from these plots are picked by community members for their own use, or donated to our food pantry or nursing home. As our volume increases, we hope to increase our donations.
 We are trying to improve the survival chances of our perennials and trees by developing a micro climate, with shelter from the cold North Wind.
The trees were just planted in May. 
We plan to have plastic applied to protect the trees and encourage their rapid growth.  
Soon, we will have a place to park. 
Where you can walk across the bridge. 
And always feel welcome at The Aneta Community Orchard and Gardens, 
just down the road from GriggsDakota.

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