Spurred by an Eagle Scout project by the son of a member, the Sustainable Farming Association of Minnesota has helped bring locally raised food to Gov. Mark Dayton’s table by planting and maintaining an organic garden at the Minnesota Governor’s Residence.
Begun last year by SFA Crow River Chapter member Mary Jane Miller, the small vegetable garden is used by the chef at the mansion and uses soil, plants, labor and expertise donated by SFA members (below).
“The vegetable garden is a way to show and teach visitors touring the grounds and the governor’s guests how easy and attractive a veggie patch can be,” Miller said. “We shared that not only is it pretty and the food delicious, but easy access to garden-fresh produce has a positive impact on general health.”
The little raised beds were very productive in their first growing season. The chef put up pickles, froze beans and tomatoes, and served lots of pretty salads. The governor found the garden an easy topic to talk about at state dinners – green beans are pretty good at bridging political gaps.
The gardener at the residence had a new baby last summer and made an effort to garden as organically as possible. She welcomed SFA’s advice on how to achieve that in such an important public space.
This year, we have been asked to expand the garden, and its size will more than double. SFA is also providing volunteer docents to be on hand during the summer tours to spread the good word about growing and eating fresh local food.