MSU Extension in Rosebud & Treasure Counties
Forsyth Community Garden Helping Feed the Community
During the fall of 2015, MSU Extension in Rosebud-Treasure County began planning the return of the Forsyth Community Garden. Shortly after, two enthusiastic Forsyth Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America members, Mickey Bidwell and Lex Heberle, called the Extension office in hopes of partnering with Extension to aid in planning and implementing a revived community garden for the town of Forsyth.
Extension Agent, Melissa Ashley, Bidwell and Heberle met several times to begin working out the logistics of a new garden. MSU Extension was awarded a special project grant from the Community Foundation of Northern Rosebud County and plans for a community garden were no longer simply pen and paper.
Melissa stated â€œIt was great being able to show Bidwell and Heberle the process of planning a community project, working together with local government such as county commissioners and city hall, writing grants and the impact this project had on so many different groups of people within their own community.â€� Bidwell and Heberle prepared an illustrated talk about their involvement with the community garden to present at the State FCCLA convention. They received a gold medal at state and continued to the National FCCLA convention in California where they also received a gold medal.
As temperatures began to rise, gardeners itched to plant their seeds and watch them grow. Each gardener came with their own gardening practices and were excited to meet fellow gardeners and learn new methods from each other. The Rosebud Conservation District secured a plot in the garden to showcase the soil health benefits and production ability of a non-traditional, no-till garden. At the fall clean-up day, a BBQ was held that highlighted dishes made from produce grown in the community garden. By the end of the growing season, gardeners were asking to expand their garden plots next year as well as start their own composting station.
One gardener praised the community garden for helping her become more active. By getting up early to tend her garden before work hours, she began to walk for half an hour each morning after she visited her garden plot. Another gardener that lives away from his family during the work week celebrated his time in the community garden because it provided him an opportunity to work outdoors and grow his own food.
With the help of the community gardeners, Ashley grew a pumpkin patch in the community garden. These pumpkins were harvested and 13 large pumpkins were given to the Family Consumer Science classes and Forsyth FCCLA chapter. Students learned how to bake, process and preserve fresh pumpkin. Later, students made the preserved pumpkin into pies for the Forsyth Samaritanâ€™s Pantry Thanksgiving Dinner donation. The pantry donated 58 complete Thanksgiving dinners to families in need. Forsyth students and FCCLA members supplied the pantry with 35 pies to help complete their dinner boxes. Thirty-five families in the community ate pies at Thanksgiving that were grown, baked and donated locally.
Through the good works of the Forsyth Community Garden, MSU Extension was able to bring individuals together that share a common interest in community development and enhancement, growing and sharing locally produced food as well as helping others in need. Ashley noted â€œThe community garden had a much greater impact on so many more individuals than I had expected for its very first year! I am excited about everyone wanting to be involved in such a great project. Bidwell and Heberle plan to continue their FCCLA project with the community garden and we have high hopes of adding raised beds this year to accommodate an even wider range of garden enthusiasts. We plan to keep producing locally grown food for the Samaritanâ€™s Pantry and canâ€™t wait to see what other great projects stem from the Forsyth Community Garden!â€�
Read more program highlights from MSU Extension in Rosebud & Treasure Counties.