Watkins distributes fertilizers and plants products such as French beans, peppers, radishes and pumpkins. According to Watkins, the MLK Park Gardens bounty will be given to the Aliveness Project, which will then distribute the fresh food to those infected with HIV in the community.
During the pandemic, Watkins said, people are realizing more than ever the importance of fresh food. She noted that some garden centers were made out of seedlings and cedar wood, which are often used to make raised beds.
“If you walk around you will see more people with gardens in their front yards,” she said. “Just like everyone makes sourdough bread, everyone starts working in the garden now because they have the time.”
Navigating in the available sunlight, keeping the correct spacing between plants and avoiding pests and insects have been a top priority for many homeowners. The University of Minnesota Master Gardeners program has doubled or tripled the usual number of people dealing with questions. Some of the most common are logistics over plants, insect identification, and lawn care.
“It seems to me that they saw the spring awakening in their garden and saw things they had never noticed before,” wrote Ellen Campbell, a master gardener from Hennepin County, in an email. “Particularly weed infestations that they hadn’t noticed in years and now they’re overwhelmed.”
For Sarah Woutat, market manager of Neighborhood Roots – the organization that runs the farmers’ markets in Kingfield and Fulton – gardening is not just a job, it’s a creative business.
Woutat, herself a former farmer, recently moved to Kingfield and adapted to growing produce on her extra small lawn. With an abundance of hanging baskets and an array of potted vegetables on their patio, there is a sense of pride and joy in creating something fresh and tasty out of something as small as a seed.
Given the food shortages in grocery stores during the pandemic, Woutat said COVID-19 made more people aware of how dependent they are on the global supply chain. Growing some of your own foods can not only be cheaper, but also create a feeling of self-sufficiency, she said.
“If something like this happens that is completely unforeseen and our systems are not set up for it, then you have no food,” she said.
Supporting local farmers markets and growing produce from scratch keep the dollars in the community and is a more sustainable food model to fall back on, Woutat said.
“I hope that once we get back to normal – whatever that means, people will take these ideas forward,” she said. “As soon as you get everything you need back in the supermarket, I hope you won’t give up this garden.”