Red Wing adds two gardens to growing list of green spacesMoonglow, Big Rainbow and Cherokee Purple may sound like the latest colors in a child's box of crayons, but they're actually the names of uncommon tomatoes that grew in 2011 in a small garden at Minnesota Correctional Facility-Red Wing.
A handful of adult offenders at the correctional facility volunteered their time to tend the garden. The offenders also checked up on how things are growing throughout the rest of the week.
"They're out here all the time," Red Wing resident Christine Aquino said during the inaugustl 2011 growing season. She pitched the idea for the garden to the correctional facility. "They've gotten a lot of attention from people on the highway honking and waving."
The Hope Garden - the name chosen by the men helping - packs a huge assortment of fruits, vegetables and flowers into a small space.
"It's great to see it go from nothing to something," gardener Randy Vaught said.
While some of what was harvested the first year was enjoyed directly by the growers and others at suppertime, hundreds of pounds of fresh produce went to the Red Wing Area Food Shelf.
"I think the men really want to build a bridge and support people who are in need," Aquino said.
"It's nice to have that opportunity when you're in here, instead of just when you get out," gardener Cory Schilling added.
Even though many of the offenders are unfamiliar with gardening, they're excited to contribute to the project, and they especially appreciate enjoying the fruits of their labor.
"Anything fresh is good," Vaught said.
Some offenders hope the gardening they do now will stay with them into the future.
"We're learning how to eat healthier and stay healthier," Vaught said. "And a way to save money also."
The offenders are also learning to connect with the community they will rejoin one day.
"This is much more than sticking a seed in the ground," Aquino said. "This is growing life."
At Fairview Red Wing Medical Center, another garden offers staff, patients and community members a new place to go when they’re in need of relaxation or just some time to themselves.
That place is the healing garden that came to be in 2011 and is located outside of Fairview Red Wing’s cafeteria. The garden features a large variety of flowers and plants, as well as benches and chairs around the area.
“When you have good and bad news – just to have another place that you can come and be reflective,” Fairview’s Business and Community Development Liaison Pam Horlitz explained of the purpose of the healing garden.
Master Gardener Terry Yockey saw a need for the garden after she learned her husband had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma.
“I thought, ‘Where can I go and just collect myself and try to deal with this?’ And there wasn’t a place,” Yockey explained.
Plans for the garden started to develop when Horlitz entered a new position at Fairview and became in charge of community development.
Spearheaded by Horlitz, Alissa Kleen of Hiawatha Valley Landscaping and Master Gardeners Yockey, Peg Hanson and Nancy Braschler, the project not only involves the healing garden, but also features a labyrinth mowed into the lawn just down the hill from the hospital.
The three Master Gardeners and Kleen collectively decided what plants would be included in the healing garden.
They chose the plants for a variety of reasons, wanting some to have height to create a more secluded location for people to reflect and others to have a calming look so the atmosphere in the garden will be relaxing.
“We tried to pick things that fit into being more peaceful and contemplative,” Yockey explained. “We don’t want it real brash and in your face.”
The group hopes community members and hospital staff will be interested in volunteering to help with the upkeep of the garden, and gardening experience isn’t even required.
“We’re going to make a nice plan that tells those of us who aren’t gardeners what needs to be done,” Horlitz explained. “Our goal is to build a larger gardening community a week at a time.”