Aberdeen green thumbs put down community roots

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Farm Forum

ABERDEEN — Community is not merely a word in a title — it represents a bond that connects many of the people who rent plots in the Aberdeen Community Gardens organized through the city’s Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department.

Recently, Millie Suchomel noticed a garden becoming nearly overgrown with weeds near her three plots at the east site off of Melgaard Road. Instead of turning the messy space over to Aaron Kiesz, the Aberdeen city forester, she cleaned it up with the help of the plot’s neighboring gardeners.

“I couldn’t see it go to waste,” said Suchomel, who subsequently found out that the garden’s renter is a woman whose mother, who lives in Britton, had recently broken her hip. Unable to move her mother into her upstairs apartment, Suchomel said the woman has been traveling back and forth since the incident.

Eight wheelbarrows full of weeds later, Suchomel and her helpers had the garden cleaned up.

Through actions such as the cleanup, giving of garden materials and lots of visiting while working on their plots, renters, such as Suchomel, form a garden community connected by a hobby they love.

Only a hop, skip and a jump with a stop for a peapod snack, Gary Morehouse’s plots are near Suchomel’s space.

Out on the east site by Moccasin Creek, Morehouse has had a garden through the community program ever since he moved into the Forest Acres subdivision about a decade ago.

Coming from a family with 12 children, Morehouse’s mother always kept a big garden to help feed the group. Being one of the younger children who often helped his mother, the activity has long been a part of his life.

“This is my therapy,” Morehouse said, looking over his plots.

While some of what he grows goes toward feeding his wife and himself, much of what Morehouse plants doesn’t follow him home to his kitchen table.

“Ninety-percent of the stuff I grow, I give away,” Morehouse said.

Trading vegetation is also a common occurrence.

With more people wanting to rent than there are available spots, Kiesz said the city is working to expand the community gardens and add an additional site.

“We are trying to find a suitable location, possibly on the north side of town,” Kiesz said. “We always have more demand than supply.”

Meanwhile, the gardeners will continue to share, trade, visit about life and talk about nearby gardens as they enjoy time spent in the sun.