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Garden Visit at Nativity Child and Family Center in Saint Anthony, Minnesota

This Straw Bale Garden is adding to the lives and lunches of some very little future-gardeners.

Watch the video below to learn more about the Straw Bale Garden at Nativity Child and Family Center in St. Anthony, Minnesota.

– Hi everyone. Today we’re in Saint Anthony, Minnesota, at the Nativity Child Family Center, and we’re with our friend, Steve. Steve’s kind of been spearheading a project here at Nativity where they’ve been planting a straw bale garden this summer. Kids all the way as young as two up to grade school age are participating in the garden. Steve, tell us, how did you get started in straw bale gardening?

– Well, I started about four years ago at my own home, and I learned it from you and I just enjoyed the process. My daughter is four years old now, and when she started becoming old enough to walk down, she enjoyed it, and I just feel that it’s a good way to get the kids involved in eating vegetables.

– Getting them started right, that’s what we like to do at straw bale gardening. Tell us a little bit about this project at nativity. How did this get started? What was the impetus of it? Whose idea was it?

– Well, it was my idea because I knew how much my daughter liked it, and I thought the other kids would enjoy it. Here at the school they hired a chef, so the meals are prepared fresh every day, and I thought, what a great way to incorporate fresh ingredients so the kids eat better, and also to save some money for the school because it is a nonprofit school as well.

– I see you got some, like cilantro, and I see some chives right next to me here, all kinds of different herbs planted. Probably, she’s able to integrate that when she makes certain things for lunch?

– Absolutely. Like just today I talked to her, and she came out and got some oregano because they’re having spaghetti, and so she put it in the sauce.

– Oh, fresh oregano?

– And she gets some lettuce because they’re having a salad.

– So it looks like you’ve got a whole variety of vegetables started in here. I see peppers and tomatoes, looks like some squash. How did you decide what to plant?

– Well, I thought about what kind of meals they would prepare and just kind of went with that theme. I talked to the chef, she likes to make some salsa, so we kind of planted some things that caters to that, and I thought I’d try some different things, like purple carrots to excite the kids to maybe eat them.

– It’s great when you get little kids excited about gardening early. It’s amazing if they plant the peas or they plant the beans, and they watch them grow, how much more excited they are to actually eat the peas and the beans when you harvest them. So that’s a great thing. It looks like generally, you have about two to three plants per bale. What made you decide two to three plants per bale? Did you lay out the garden the way you wanted it set up, and then the kids help you plant or?

– I laid out the garden the way I wanted it set up. I followed your guidelines just so we didn’t overcrowd the bales, and then when we had all the kids out to plant, I just kind of laid the plants out and then we had helpers, you know, help them plan at that time. And then we did have some do some seeds and got a little carried away.

– Yeah, looks like your lettuce got seeded pretty thick over there. There’s lettuce coming up everywhere. The whole bale looks like it’s grown hair out of the bale. You could just thin that out folks. If you get too many lettuce seeds, it’s fun for the kids to come in and plant and you can always come back and thin it out, so it’s not really that big of a deal. It looks like some things are doing better than others. I see you’ve got some annuals planted in the sides of the bales. Now, I hate the smell of marigolds, and so do deer and rabbits apparently. I would assume that’s why you put marigolds in the sides of the bales to try and prevent past.

– That is exactly it. You know, I heard that that was what happened, and I remember one day, right after I planted, I pulled in the lot here and I saw a big old rabbit, and I was like, Oh, we better plan a couple of extra.

– Yeah. Well, there’s probably a good way to deter the neighborhood livestock from munching on your fresh vegetables. The setup looks pretty sturdy. Are they planning to do this again in future years?

– They are planning to do it. We got everyone on board, including the church and the daycare, Which it’s kind of a separate venue, but everyone was really excited about it.

– Well, it’s neat. We’re right near the entry parking lot. Sort of the back lot to the church, so I’m sure lots of people drive by here and see this.

– Yeah.

– That’d be great exposure for straw bale gardening. And maybe we’ll get some people excited about it and they’ll take this idea home and plant a garden in their backyard. It’s a great idea for everybody to have a few fresh vegetables in your backyard. Really gets you started in the right direction in terms of eating right, changing your diet, and really starting with young kids, it’s a great way to get them started on a path to eating things that are good for you and fresh as well. It tastes good. Well, thanks for spending some time with us today, Steve. I really appreciate it. We’re going to stop back a couple of times, maybe later this summer, and we’ll see how your progress is coming along, and I can’t wait to hear a wrap up of how this project went throughout the summer and what the parishioners at this particular church thought about the whole straw bale garden idea. So thanks for spending some time with us.

– You’re welcome, and thank you.

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