The University of Minnesota Crookston’s Allen and Freda Pederson garden has a new look meant to catch the eye of those traveling by on County Road 71. The front garden sports a variety of trestles including teepees and pallets.
The garden, located between the University Teaching and Outreach Center and Valley Tech Park (VTP), was created in 2014 thanks to a donation from Allen Pederson. Theresa Helgeson, a lab services coordinator in the Agriculture and Natural Resources Department, along with a couple of student employees, was asked to take over the garden this year. “The garden started about five years with funding from Allen and Freda Pederson,” said Helgeson. “He desired to have some produce here, and it is brought over to our dining services on campus when the football players come back for their training. Dr. (Dan) Svedarsky came out and sprayed the grass, tilled the land, and started planting. And he got a huge bumper crop the first year which is unusual. There was a new garden manager who took care of it awhile. Then I was asked to do it, so I’ve got a new project to do.”
The garden is split into a north and south bed with one meant to catch the eye and other for the production of produce to feed the football team when they return for practice in August. “We have a north bed that has most of our production for produce in it,” said Helgeson. “And then we have a south bed closer to the road. What I was envisioning is having something that made people turn their heads when they drive by, stop, and get out of their vehicles to look at the garden instead of not even noticing. We needed to think of things that would be eye-catching and showcase different ways to trestle plants that will grow. We have teepees at the two entrances that you can walk through. At the base of them, we planted morning glories so that they would climb up there and also pole beans to grow up those. At the archways, we planted gourds there so the kids, or adults if they’re shorter, can walk through and the gourds will end up hanging through. And then we have pallets and some more morning glories planted there that you’ll be able to see later on that they climb right up there.”
A wide range of produce has been planted in both beds. “We have corn, cantaloupe, cucumbers, pumpkin, beans, squash, peas, tomatoes, red and green cabbage, onions, colored carrots, and orange ones,” said Helgeson. “We have bell peppers. Just your traditional green peppers and also have orange bell peppers, banana peppers, and jalapenos. Then we have a crop some people are familiar with, and some people aren’t, and that’s kohlrabi. We’ve got a white one and a red one. The last thing is swiss chard, a rainbow mix, so it’s nice pretty colors. Later in the season, it will be a lot showier, but right now everything is really small because it was just planted last week.”
The public is encouraged to check out the gardens as there is even a walking bath in the south bed along the road. Helgeson also hopes to get benches out there as well. Anyone wanting to visit the garden is welcome to park at VTP and check out the different produce being grown to feed to the football team.