Growing Together: Share the work, share the harvest at Growing Together Community Gardens
Throughout the garden season, volunteers meet weekly in groups at their specific garden to perform tasks that need to be completed. Members share the work and share the harvest.
FARGO — Nothing says community like a potluck. And a potluck meal is exactly how Growing Together Community Gardens is kicking off the upcoming gardening year with a sign-up open house Thursday, March 16.
Fargo’s Growing Together Community Gardens aren’t your run-of-the-mill public vegetable gardens. Their award-winning unique model has caught national and worldwide attention.
Co-founder Jack Wood says Growing Together is a community garden organization that serves over 300 member volunteers at eight gardens in the Fargo community. Throughout the garden season, volunteers meet weekly in groups at their specific garden to perform tasks that need to be completed. Members share the work and share the harvest.
According to Jack Wood, the sessions normally last up to two hours weekly from May through September. As vegetables are ready for picking or harvesting, the produce is shared equally with the full-share members in attendance. To qualify as a full-share member, volunteers work 20 hours in the garden, either their designated garden or as a member of the special operations team.
Gardens are led by supervisors who detail the tasks to be accomplished each week. Tasks are assigned to garden leaders who work with small groups of volunteers to complete the work to be accomplished. Over 50 supervisors or leaders are involved each week.
The gardening season dictates what needs to be done in the gardens each week. Wood says the month of May is spent primarily preparing and planting. They have a five-week planting schedule starting May 1 with salad-type greens and ending the last week in May with planting tomato and eggplant transplants.
June and July are busy months tending weeds and pruning tomatoes. August and September are mainly spent harvesting the fruits of their labors. In October, beds are cleaned up and prepared for the upcoming winter.
Wood says: “Our first garden started in 2006 with a garden 100 by 100 feet, with eight New American families. During the past sixteen years, we’ve learned many lessons on correct techniques that we love to share with others.
“Our focus from the start has been helping New Americans in our community adjust to life in the United States. The weekly sessions provided great exercise and healthy vegetables. Also, the social connection with others in our community helps them with their mental health.”
In 2023, Growing Together Community Gardens is partnering with Lutheran Immigration Refugee Services and North Dakota State University Extension to train New Americans in area farming practices and growing conditions.
Growing Together also donated over 8,000 pounds of produce to local food shelves in 2022.
“There has been a huge need in our community for fresh produce,” Wood says. “Volunteers also serve meals weekly at the New Life Center to over 100 male residents. We also provide produce to the Heart and Soul Café, and we devote a portion of one of our gardens to growing food for these two organizations.”
Growing Together also helps other organizations start similar community gardens.
Wood says: “Our community garden tool kit can be found on our website. Many of the existing community gardens in Fargo, West Fargo and Moorhead have been started with our tool kit and some of our former garden leaders now lead these programs.”
Growing Together is open to all in our community. The organization will have an open house and sign-up potluck at Gethsemane Cathedral, 3600 25th Street South, Fargo, Thursday, March 16. The public is invited to bring a dish to share at 5:30 p.m., with serving starting at 6:15. A short program will follow at 7.
Information about Growing Together Community Gardens can be found on their website, www.growingtogetherfm.org.