Local Info to Get You Growing
If you’re here, you’re likely looking to dig into your garden resources a little deeper. Let’s take a tour of the places and faces of our local gardening scene!
More and more of us are gardening, specifically- more Americans are growing our own food, 1 in 3 of us- according to the National Gardening Association’s survey.
It is obvious from the quality and range of people and organizations ready to help, our corner of the Twin Cities loves their homegrown food! This post has a sister “Garden Resources” page with links that will be updated regularly- so check back to stay in the know!
WBL Seed Library
Our very own White Bear Lake Public Library houses the volunteer run WBL Seed Library. 1,500 seed packets found new homes in 2018. In that same year, locals grew and/or donated seeds and helped to pack 1,420 seed packets for distribution. Join the email list at the website to stay in the know about packing and class events. A seed library is just what it sounds like, a place where you can “check out” a packet of seeds to grow, enjoy the fruits or flowers of your labor. Then, bring back enough seeds to replenish and hopefully increase the seed stock for the next season. All for free! More info about our seed library and seed saving in the article Seed Saving Starts Now !
For a full list of my favorite seed companies check out the Garden Resources Page
Ramsey County Master Gardeners
We’re so lucky our great state values farming and gardening! Part of the University of Minnesota extension services, the Master Gardener program educates volunteers. These volunteers educate residents in proven, eco-friendly gardening techniques to improve our environment.
These garden gurus keep a busy schedule visiting the community at events (like at the WBL Winter Farmers Market) answering questions and giving presentations at their seasonal sites. They hold a Diagnostic Clinic which is open May 1 through September 30 on Wednesdays and Saturdays, located at 2020 White Bear Ave. Maplewood, a.k.a. “The Barn”.
The Master Gardeners also have a great website at ramseymastergardeners.org with lots of garden resource info, or send a question via email via the “Ask a Master Gardener” link on the site. This site goes from soil sampling and seed sowing, to preserving the harvest. Search ‘vegetables’ “calendar’ or ‘preserve and prepare’ from HERE. Or just go right to THIS LINK to check out recommendations for specific veggies you want to grow!
The U of MN BEE LAB is another amazing resource for gardeners looking to work with nature and her ultimate pollinating machines. Resources on plant options, City Beekeeping rules and native pollinator trends abound.
Hugo Feed Mill
The Hugo Feed Mill and Hardware couples down-home customer service with up to date knowledge and passion for helping their neighbors grow real, good food. Steve, aka “Dr. Pepper” anticipates around 350 pepper and 150 tomato varieties will be available this Spring. The greenhouse opens early May with bedding plants then starts overflowing with tomatoes and peppers by mid-May.
The Hugo Feed Mill hosts planting parties, tasting events and always have knowledgeable caring staff on site to answer questions. Steve also gives ‘Pepper Talks’ around town. Follow the Hugo Feed Mill on Facebook or sign up for their “timely tips’ email list from the website to stay up to date.
Another favorite local urban homesteading store I adore is Egg|Plant Urban Farm Supply. Both Hugo Feed Mill and Egg|Plant sell chicks each spring as well!!more info on chickens in the Hood
Local Plant Sales for 2019
These plant sales will start your garden off on the right foot. Good for your garden, the pollinators, your harvests and the community. Plants grown for these sales are never treated with Neonicotinoid pesticides, are almost always non-GMO, locally raised by experts- and the sales directly benefit some great gardening programs.
Friends School Plant Sale
May 10th-12th, (times vary daily) at the State Fair Grounds
With more than 2,450 plant varieties this may be the largest single plant sale in the U.S. It is a fundraising event for the Friends School of Minnesota, a small Quaker K-8 school in St. Paul. Plants are grown as naturally as possible, 80% from local gr
Ramsey County Master Gardeners Plant Sale
May 18, 8am-2pm at “The Barn” 2020 White Bear Ave. Maplewood
The proceeds from this sale benefit the University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener programs in Ramsey County. And being held at “The Barn” gives you a chance to check that local landmark out at the same time.
Landscape Revival Plant Sale
June 1, 9am-1pm at the Shepherd of the Hills Church 3920 Victoria St N, Shoreview
June 8, 9am-1 pm at the Oakdale City Hall, 1584 Hadley Ave N, Oakdale
These sales offer gardeners one convenient location to shop for Minnesota native plants from six local native growers and learn how to use the plants from conservation organizations.
The goal of Landscape Revival is to promote the use of native plants by educating about their benefits for wildlife habitat, pollinators and water quality.
We have a few local garden groups to choose from. The Mahtomedi Garden Club meets monthly over the Winter months. They also host an annual Garden Tour, 2019’s is set for Sunday, June 23rd, noon-4pm. The Saint Paul Garden Club draws many locals focusing on public gardens in our capital city. They host a luscious annual flower show. Wild Ones focuses on native plant gardening, going beyond pollinator friendly.
Our town boasts some fabulous community gardens. These are places where all levels of gardeners grow together. Some of these have classes, and ‘in service’ times when a more experienced gardener will be on site. The Mahtomedi Community Gardens, the WBL United Methodist Community Gardens and the YMCA Community Gardens. All have information on how to rent a bed online or by calling their main numbers.
Many Paths to Eating Local
If you love fresh and local food but not gardening, you can support our local farmers by signing up for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and I have a blog post all about some great local CSA options in the CSA’s So Many Ways Blog Post. Or if you’re like me and grow a lot, but not everything your family eats, try shopping our very own White Bear Lake Farmers Markets, starting up the last Friday in June. I have some Farmers Market Shopping Tips for you too. If you’d like to check out more on some specific farmers, dig into my Farmers page, which links to interviews with local small farms.
For more “How To” info, please go to out my “Local Garden Resources” Page. You can always check out the Forks in the Dirt Blog, Facebook page, or Instagram feed where I sift through lots of local food info and have full blog posts on CSA’s, gardening tips, upcoming garden events and recipes for using your harvest.
Whichever way you choose to eat locally, I hope you Dig Your Food!