Garden plot rental popular in Rosemount

Residents following instincts to grow own food

Rosemount has several rows of houses where farmland used to be, but the desire to grow your own food hasn’t left its residents.

Dozens of families are getting back to their roots by planting gardens at various parks throughout the city through the Rosemount Park and Recreation Department.

Registration is open for garden plot rental at Biscayne, Jaycee, Winds and Lions parks as well as th Flint Hills Outdoor Recreation Complex. The gardening program is in its seventh year.

“People are concerned with the produce they buy at the grocery store,” said Tom Schuster, recreation supervisor. “They don’t know what’s been applied to it. People are growing food for health reasons. It’s also an interesting family activity — something families can do together. There’s a certain satisfaction in eating food you grow yourself and I’m sure there’s some cost savings.”

It wasn’t always this popular. It started with one park in 2011.

Now it’s to the point where every new park the city designs includes garden plots.

Two sizes are available: 10-by-20 feet for $30 and 20-by-20 feet for $50.

Gardeners supply their own seeds, plants, fertilizer and equipment. Water tanks are on site.

It’s also popular enough to have a lottery.

This is the third year for the lottery, which has worked out well, Schuster said. It’s allowed for more choices and flexibility.

“Supply has always exceeded demand or at least matched it,” Schuster said. “We’re able to accommodate most requests.”

Applicants rank the park and size of the plot they want.

“We can give most people that apply their first or second choice,” Schuster said. “For some, it’s their third or fourth. It’s given us the opportunity to offer plots to more people. Nobody is too disappointed.”

The Park and Recreation Department has about 70 total plots available.

Gardeners tend to plant common vegetables such as tomatoes, beans, squash and pumpkins.

Some plant flower beds or mix in a few marigolds to keep rodents out.

“We let them plant pretty much whatever except perennials,” Schuster said. “But if they are going to grow vining plants, keep them intact and be a good neighbor.”

Being a good neighbor is an easy way to sum up the rules of the gardens.

“We do ask for cooperation between gardeners,” Schuster said. “Unfortunately every year we have a few gardeners that are overwhelmed or their schedule changes or they move. They don’t finish the season. You have to step in and mow it down or talk to neighbors who might take it over.”

They ask if gardeners do move or run out of time to let the Park and Recreation Department know.

“People put a lot of time into planting,” Schuster said. “It’s a shame to let weeds take over.”

Gardeners who neglect, abandon or fail to properly clean up their plot will not be awarded one the next year.

An application to enter the lottery and guidelines for participation are available at http://ci.rosemount.mn.us/garden. The application must be returned to the Parks and Recreation Department by March 31. Gardeners will be notified of their plot assignment after the lottery is conducted in early April.

For more information, contact Schuster at tom.schuster@ci.rosemount.mn.us or at 651-322-6005.