Holy Family Catholic High School’s Garden Project has delivered almost 80 pounds of produce to the Bountiful Baskets food shelf in Chaska this summer. In its third year, early estimates point to a bumper crop for the 2016 harvest which appears likely to outpace last year’s donation total of 110 pounds of produce.
Long before the warm growing season arrives, project advisor and science teacher Jim Walker starts the plants in the south-facing windows of his classroom. The plants are moved to the school greenhouse in April to grow in preparation for spring planting. After soil temperatures reach appropriate temperatures, student volunteers help transplant the starter plants to the garden’s raised beds. Plants are kept pest-free without the use of chemical pesticides and weeds are kept at bay with straw mulch and willing summer volunteers.
Harvest dates are intentionally staggered to provide produce to the food shelf after donations of vegetable varieties from home gardens may have ended. The hope is to keep a manageable and wide variety of produce available at the food shelf throughout the summer months.
This fall, a small apple orchard will be added near the garden in honor of long-time employee, Mary Stenerson, who relocated to Detroit Lakes. When the trees bear fruit in approximately 2-3 years, the garden project volunteers will have fruit to share, as well.