Master Gardeners of Lyndale (Official and Not)


It’s gardening season and if you’re like me, you’re frantically reading books like “Gardening for Dummies” while incessantly checking your garden to see if those seeds you planted two weeks ago have finally germinated. Let’s face it, not all of us are pro-gardeners. Some of us are more apt at drying out and killing seedlings.
But fear not! Silently working on the streets of Pillsbury and 31st in the Lyndale Neighborhood lies a group of Master Gardeners. What makes them Master Gardeners? They have completed a five-month course with the University of Minnesota Extension’s Master Gardening program to learn horticultural practices before completing 50 hours of community garden work and education.
Gardeners Scott Merth, Larry Cain, Ramaa Bhasin, Jenn Hudson, and Tricia Sletten are just some of these Master Gardeners, and they have directed their efforts to the Lyndale Pillsbury Farm at 3110 Pillsbury Avenue this summer. Unlike the Lyndale Neighborhood Association’s (LNA’s) other two community gardens where over 70 neighbors pay for a plot to grow their own food, Pillsbury Farm was once collectively managed by Youth Farm, a local youth gardening organization. Because Youth Farm worked on a collective gardening model, it was pretty easy for LNA to turn this piece of land over to the Master Gardeners for the summer to once again make it a collectively maintained garden.
With neighbor volunteer help, the Master Gardeners will tend to the land all summer, and all cultivated produce will be donated to local food shelves. Their leadership and gardening knowledge is commendable, especially because it is all volunteer!
While the Master Gardeners have already made a tremendous impact at Pillsbury Farm, they aren’t the only expert gardeners at Pillsbury Farm. Several neighbors, although not having taken the official Master Gardening course, are phenomenal gardeners themselves.
Two Lyndale gardeners and neighbors, for instance, have rented plots in Pillsbury Farm for years. Employing traditional Mexican agricultural practices and irrigation techniques, they grow hundreds of hot peppers a summer, many of which they donate to other gardeners and community members. They have transformed collective garden spaces into flowering gardens and regularly aid the Master Gardeners. Their efforts epitomize the wealth of gardening experience and long cultivated expertise amongst many gardeners at Pillsbury Farm.
Mixed together, the Master Gardeners at Pillsbury Farm, both official and not, have created a rich community of gardeners who are enthusiastic to share their gardening knowledge with the greater community. They want you to come learn from and with them at Pillsbury Farm this summer.
Whether neighbors live in Lyndale or not, all are welcome to help with the collective tending of Pillsbury Farm during or outside of scheduled workdays. Workdays occur at Pillsbury Farm the second Saturday of each month and on each Tuesday that follows that second Saturday (for July, they will be Saturday, July 9 and Tuesday, July 12). For neighbors who can’t make these work days, neighbors can still get involved by emailing to figure out times to help and tasks that need to be done in the garden.
Maybe I’ll forever be killing basil on my windowsill, but I, for one, am excited to learn from the Master Gardeners at Pillsbury Farm, officially designated as such or not.


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