In the summer of 2021, Jessie Hamm's dream of a community garden took root beside the outdoor arena in Plum Coulee.
Now assistant manager, Hamm says the idea for the project was sown during the previous winter.
"I just had a dream, just had a thought that we should have community gardens in Plum Coulee. Just thought with as many apartments we have and duplexes I thought it'd be good just for people to have something to do and connect with community. So I put a proposal together, brought that to the Municipality of Rhineland, asking if we could start some community gardens in the grass area beside the arena. With that I asked two friends to help me, and they did. Council agreed to have the gardens on their land and that's where it started."
Enthusiasm for the project caught on quickly.
"The first year I think we had 20 plots right away sold out, and now we're up to 29. A lot of people love the double feature that they could do two plots side by side."
Each plot measures 15 feet by 25 feet, with a rental rate of $20 a single or $30 for a double, water included.
"There is water on site," says Hamm. "We also have a shed that just got put up this spring for [growers] to put their tools in. Compost and waste baskets and stuff like that are there [as well]."
A $12,000 grant from the Farmers Business Network covered the cost of the shed, some fresh topsoil and fertilizer.
Financial support for the project has come from Plum Coulee Community Foundation, Plum Coulee School Youth-in-Philanthropy (YIP) program, JKW Construction, Artspan, Access Credit Union, as well as Plum Coulee and Winkler Coop. The Municipality of Rhineland is providing the required land along with the first till of season.
When gardeners rent a plot, they get more than the soil beneath their feet.
"We did the shed this year, so that was a new feature. It has an overhang, a 6-foot overhang, so we'll have a picnic table under there, some shade for the gardeners if they bring their kids and their helpers. We also do have a Crop Swap table. If somebody has extra in their garden that they can't get rid of or that they're not going to use, they can put it on the table and other gardeners or people walking by are welcome to help themselves if it's on that Crop Swap table."
Next year they will add another area to accommodate 36 more plots said Hamm.
"We have interest for that already."