The sparse land surrounding the Woodruff town offices might look dismal to some, but to the newly formed Lakeland Community Garden Group, it's the fruition of planting ideas, planning and waiting for years.
"It's just never quite come together until now," Kandace Lynn, a member of the group's steering committee, said. "It was just discussed as an idea."
That idea was originally conceptualized by Tara Woolpy and a handful of other green-thumbed community members - eventually, they came together to form a nucleus known as the steering committee, which provided structure to the loosely defined objectives.
With this structure in place, the committee rented the land from the town of Woodruff for five years and an annual $5 fee.
"What makes where we are ideal is that there are no trees ... there's sun, water available, which is critical. There's electricity, and it's accessible - and there's parking right there," Bob Buress, another steering committee member, said.
They also mobilized the project by generating interest from the outlying community.
"The enthusiasm and the support so far given by everybody has been great," Buress said.
He said Rynders Development contractors donated compost as well as 160 yards of topsoil, which the company has volunteered to till before planting begins.
KELK Land Improvement has volunteered to dig the water line, Van Natta Plumbing will complete the installation and the town's water department will provide the connection.
The group was also awarded a $10,000 grant, and received $400 in donations from their most recent fundraiser, a showing of the movie, "Fresh," sponsored by Wild Berry Market.
Members of the public will come together to create the rest.
"This will be sort of a classic community garden where people will rent plots and grow food and then give excess to the pantry if that works for them," Woolpy said.
"We're a pretty diverse looking group - there's some retired people, some younger people, some new families in the area, people who have been here a long time."
This network provides the base of the group's overarching goals, which include growing fresh, pesticide-free produce, creating cost-effective alternatives to purchasing from retail sources, providing a healthy, safe place to exercise and creating a source of food for the needy.
The 160- by 104-foot garden will consist of 40 plots, each measuring 10 by 20 feet. All of the products used in the garden must be organic.
"We want to encourage that so no pesticides are used on food," Lynn said. "I think that's also part of the nationwide movement, to get away from pesticides. People are becoming very aware of what they're eating."
Four of the plots have been reserved for the Lakeland Pantry, and four are reserved for the physically disadvantaged, due to their proximity to the gate and gardening supplies.
"I think eventually they will be raised, as well," Lynn said. "But where we are right now - we're just trying to get our group up and running."
So far, about 18 of the 32 remaining plots have already been claimed.
"There are still plots available. It is on a first come, first serve basis," Buress said. "It would be great if we could have them all utilized, but it's not critical to us ... it's not an income for us."
Skill is not an obstacle in obtaining a plot.
"You can't believe how [to put it] politely, ignorant people are - they love to [garden], and that's what we encourage, but they don't know what to do," Buress said. "But master gardeners like Kandace will help you. The idea is the community - one helps another wherever needed or required or desired."
A membership to the group costs $5. All plots cost $30, with the exception of the four plots designated to the Lakeland Pantry.
"The food pantry is a big part of this," Buress said. "And people can donate their excess to it, too."
Though anyone can help tend the food pantry plots, because master gardener students must fulfill a quota of volunteer hours in order to receive certification through the UW-Extension's program, it's likely many will become familiar faces.
"They can use that as volunteer time to go in there and weed and do whatever needs to be done in those plots," Lynn, who also received her master gardener certification, said.
Volunteers in other areas are always welcome, members of the committee said, especially in the crucial start-up days - the group still needs to construct two sheds, as well as a perimeter of deer fencing, stakes, the gate and raised beds; dig a French drain; provide electrical connection from the sheds; and spread compost and the topsoil after tilling.
The group hopes to complete most of the work Monday, June 14, and have the land ready for planting by June 20.
"We're driven by trying to get plants in the ground ... we have to do that soon because of the short season," Lynn said.
She said hopefully the community garden will be met with optimism and generate more ideas for local growing and consuming in the future.
Some of the goals beyond this pilot year include potentially hosting educational programs, improving the lighting in the sheds and more.
But for now, the group is focusing on the present-day duties.
"I always wondered why Minocqua never had a farmer's market or something like that," Lynn said. "So I think its time is here."
Leah Gernetzke can be reached via email at email@example.com.
Posted: Monday, October 20, 2014
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First come, first serve. End of season veggie sets (4 pks) certain varieties: cucumbers (3 types) crookneck squash, tomatoes (several varieties), green peppers (2 types) and zucchini. available at reduced prices for community, church, group gardens. arrive in church van or show proof of community garden to receive this special price 48 cells (12-4pks) $10. Regular price is 4pk $2.00.