By Linda Scherer
WINSTED, MN Winsted’s Adult Training Habilitation Center (ATHC) is looking for area gardeners to be part of a community garden project to grow fruits, vegetables, and flowers that will begin this month.
The gardens will be custom-built by ATHC on the facility’s grounds at 311 Fairlawn Avenue with raised bed to accommodate gardeners that might have mobility problems or use a wheelchair.
Much of the project will be put together using recyclable materials and nature’s own resources to keep costs down.
“We are trying to do the whole project to show some of the different things you can do in your own yard to be a bit greener,” ATHC Executive Director Jason Telander said.
Anyone interested in renting one of the raised beds for a $10 fee, or who would like to assist with a community garden bed, should contact Telander or Sandy Decker at ATHC (320) 485-4191 to sign up.
The garden beds should be ready by Memorial Day weekend, which is when most gardens are planted, according to Telander.
Besides the traditional raised beds, custom-built raised gardens will be at a variety of heights, 36 to 40 inches, for people who have difficulty bending or kneeling, or use a wheelchair.
The raised gardens will be made from recycled lumber donated by David Witthus. The lumber was once part of a deck torn off of a church in Glencoe.
Boat tarps from Forest Lake Motor Sports will be used to line the beds to prevent contamination from the treated lumber.
RW Farms, an organic composting organization, will donate compost.
Rain barrels have been purchased from the Recycling Association of Minnesota.
“We are gong to divert water off the sides of the building so people can use the water for the gardens,” Telander said.
Compost bins will be placed around the facility grounds for recycling weeds and garden waste.
Black dirt will be hauled in by dump trucks from Telander’s farm, south of Winsted, and property owned by Tim Rassat (ATHC staff).
Donations of tools and seeds would be welcome.
“We should be putting this together without any expense,” Telander said. “The money for rented plots is to cover the cost of the city water connection when the rain barrels go dry.”
Greg Gehrman and Katy Born of Winsted Hardware and Garden Center would like to help with the project by bringing in an experienced gardener to teach a class on plants and soil.
All those signed up to participate in the project will be notified of a date, location, and time for the class.
“Someone who might be a master gardener at the Arboretum could decide to forego the class, but if it is the first time someone has opened a seed package, they might be interested in how to do soil preparations,” Telander said.
Volunteers will be needed to care for the gardens on weekends. ATHC is only open Monday through Friday, and Telander is thinking about August and 90-degree temperatures, when the gardens might require additional watering.
This isn’t the first community garden project Telander has organized.
At his previous job at Episcopal Group Homes in Wayzata, Telander and his wife, Ellen, started having individuals living at the group home come out to their farm and grow pumpkins, squash, and decorative gourds.
In the fall, they had a big sale.
“We did it for five years, and the last couple of years, we were making pretty good money for the effort,” Telander said.
Facts about ATHC
ATHC observed its 40th anniversary in 2006.
The center was originally known as McLeod County Developmental Achievement Center located in Biscay.
Through the center’s programs, individuals diagnosed with developmental disabilities are able to learn skills needed to make them active members in their communities.
When the center first opened its doors in fall 1966, 13 participants were signed up for the program, and parents provided the transportation. Today, there is bussing for all participants.
In 1980, the center was moved to Winsted, and in May 1987, the name was changed to Adult Training and Habilitation Center.
In 2001, ATHC opened another facility, ATHC-West, located in Hutchinson.
ATHC in Winsted has 26 staff members and 60 people who are participants in the program.
At ATHC-West, there are 15 staff members and 43 participants.
Telander and work coordinators, Kim Karels at ATHC Winsted and Beth Bartholomew at ATHC-West, continually brainstorm for work-related activities that allow ATHC participants to earn an income that promotes self-esteem and allows participants to be more in control of their lives.