FAIRMONT– Last summer, Mayo Clinic Health System- Fairmont debuted a new well-being garden, located near the Lutz Cancer Center.
Administrator Amy Long said that last year served as a sort of trial run and after receiving positive feedback, the garden has been prepped again for this season.
As for how the garden came to be, Long said that as a non-profit hospital, Mayo is required to do a community health needs assessment, as is local public health. They partnered together, along with UHD, several years ago to form a healthcare coalition.
Together they determined that addressing social determinants of health and providing access to healthy food were needs in the community and that the community garden also came about in response to addressing food insecurities in the county.
“It’s also a creative way to provide a free, healthy food option to community members,” Long said.
The garden was created in partnership with the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIP), Fairmont Community Hospital Foundation and the University of Minnesota Extension Services SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program).
“We used grants to help get the idea off the ground and build the raised garden beds,” said Long.
She said that Chad Lutterman did a lot of the work and that facility staff also helped build ten raised garden beds.
When Mayo employee Rosemary Blomster found out about the garden, she knew it would be the perfect project for some members in her Girl Scout troop, Kendra Blomster and Bel Lutterman. Blmoster has been the leader of troop #34517 since the girls were in kindergarten.
“They were eighth-graders last year working on their Silver Award. They needed to find something to help the community and involve the community,” Blomster explained.
As part of the requirement, each girl also needed to spend 50 hours working on the project.
“When we were tossing around ides, we thought maybe we could help get the garden started,” Blomster said.
Last year the two purchased and planted a lot of the vegetables in the garden. Blomster said she counted 22 different types of vegetables last year.
“They watered and weeded them and when they were ready, harvested and washed weekly. It was a lot of work for them,” Blomster said.
Both Kendra and Bel ended up meeting the requirements after last season and were granted their Silver Award. They received their pin just a few weeks ago.
While they’re both busy students and haven’t been in the garden yet this year, Blomster said they’ll continue to volunteer there because it’s been fun for them.
As a community garden, Long said they look for people to adopt a plot and that this year, between community members and staff, they’ve all been called for. However, they’re always in need of people or groups to help maintain the garden and harvest when it’s time.
Of course, the produce is welcome to anyone who wants it.
“We have a refrigerator in our lobby where the fresh produce is made available to patients and community members. It’s free and easily accessible. Anyone is welcome to it,” Long said.
While it’s just in its second year, Long said if there’s more interest and more need, they’re open to potentially expanding the garden if there’s a demand for it in the future.
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