Watts News
 Published for the members of North Itasca Electric Cooperative
VOL. 20 NO. 10  -  October 2017

Bigfork School Garden: Dream becomes reality


The 65 ft x30 ft garden is sited on the sloping area to the west of the tennis courts, resulting in six 4’x16’ raised, terraced beds. Smaller beds are situated along the fence lines. The shop class built a 8’x10’ shed, and six classrooms participated in the growing of seeds which were later transplanted into the garden. Three apple trees, a set of compost bins, rain barrels and a picnic table complete the project.

A wet spring and early summer delayed the construction of the garden, but it is now essentially complete. On September 14, a group of students, teachers and volunteers celebrated the completion of the garden. Children milled back and forth, eating raw peas, beans, kale and chewing on fennel leaves ("It tastes like licorice!"). Peas, beans, cabbage and peppers were taken to Bigfork’s North Itasca Emergency Food Shelf.

More than $7,500 was given to fund the project from the following donors: Thrivent, Itasca County Health Fund, Grand Rapids VFW, Walmart, Bigfork School PTA, Itasca County Master Gardeners, Jeffers Foundation, Bigfork Valley Community Foundation, North Itasca Electric Community Trust (RoundUp®), Carl Bergquist, Ron & Rosemary Danielson and the Northland Foundation.

The project could not have been completed without all sorts of in-kind gifts: Powell Excavating (excavating work), Rajala Mill (woodchips), Mike Huju (bedding soil and transportation for woodchips), Lynn Schleicher (fluorescent lights), Amber Kongsjord (garden plants), Gina Springis (garden seeds), Tina Doree (discount on oak timbers), Lakeside Lumber (discount on shed materials), Bigfork School Shop Class (building of shed), Gary Miles (building of bat and bird houses), North Itasca Electric Co-op (used utility pole for bathouse), Cherry Nursery (discount on apple trees).

A dedicated volunteer work crew spent many hot summer days constructing the garden: George Rounds, Gary Miles, Chuck Gibble, Lowell Peterson, James Parks, Jeanette Pangburn, Tom Renquist.

Much has been written recently about how America is declining in associational projects (Charles Murray’s "Coming Apart" and Robert Putnam’s "Bowling Alone"). This school garden project, however, has been a great example of how a community works together!

Most importantly, we are not growing vegetables and flowers here, we are growing children! We are hoping:

  • to instill a sense of wonder in the ongoing miracle of a seed giving birth to a plant which then bears a fruit which one can eat
  • to encourage sustainable, environmental care for the earth and the acquisition of good gardening practices
  • to develop a sense of accomplishment and self-reliance (“I grew this!”)
  • to allow for a caring, mentoring relationship between adult volunteers and children, an asset which will help them to grow into mature adults
  • to instill a love for gardening which will continue to reap personal benefits throughout a child’s life

Return to the October 2017 Issue