Starting A Vegetable Garden
The right vegetables for your climate, the best soil for your site and the proper timing of planting all contribute to a bountiful harvest. It can also help you reduce your dependence on foods that have traveled thousands of miles.
Did you know that the 2023 Vegetable of the Year in Crow Wing County is the green bean with our One Vegetable, One Community initiative? This initiative was launched in 2019 at the Crow Wing County Fair. If you have not heard of One Vegetable, One Community, it is a University of Minnesota Extension program that connects our Crow Wing County community through the joy of growing, cooking, eating, learning, and sharing together around a spotlight vegetable.
Crow Wing Energized hosted the first Great Vegetable Debate on the Mills stage at the Crow Wing County Fair in 2019. Five vegetables (zucchini, carrot, tomato, string bean, pepper) debated in front of the audience of why they should be chosen as the 2020 vegetable of the year. Community members started voting at the fair and continued to vote at other community events as well as businesses. The carrot received the most votes and was the veggie of the year throughout 2020. Carrot seed packets were assembled and distributed at community events and a coloring contest was held in schools. Unfortunately, the fair was paused in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The great thing about One Vegetable, One Community is that no matter what happens around the world or in the state of Minnesota, in our community we can still educate, grow, and eat a featured vegetable each year. More and more people were taking up gardening. The salad greens were voted the One Vegetable, One Community vegetable of the year in 2021 and the cucumber was chosen as the 2022 vegetable of the year, mostly through online voting. Crow Wing Energized revitalized the vegetables and held a talent show for five more vegetable characters to compete and show why they are so good for you at the county fair in 2022. Once again, voting was open at the fair and around the community, as well as online, and last year the green bean was chosen as our 2023 vegetable of the year.
Word of our One Vegetable, One Community vegetable of the year is spreading. The green bean and friends visited the first grade classes in Crow Wing County and storytime at the Brainerd library impacting over 900 youths. Children learned about how vegetables grow and each brought home a packet of seeds to plant. We also distributed over 900 packets of seeds at community partners throughout Crow Wing County. It is our goal to see green beans grown across our community including gardens in homes, community, and schools as well as businesses, faith-based organizations, and government buildings. Crow Wing Energized would love to see pictures of your green beans growing as well as harvesting your crop, cooking and canning. Tag us at @crowwingenergized on Facebook.
Our overall goal is to build a stronger local food system that increases a family’s access to healthy foods and nurtures a healthy community. One Vegetable, One Community is a fun way to increase vegetable consumption. One Vegetable, One Community is an easy way to start a conversation in the community about food, nutrition, and how a community can support healthier choices. Get involved and inspire youth and adults to grow together, learn together and eat together.
Voting for the 2024 Vegetable of the Year kicks off at the great Crow Wing County Fair. Join us at 5 p.m. Aug. 3 at the Mills Stage for our Veggie Talent Show. You will meet our 2024 Vegetable of the Year Candidates: Cabbage, kohlrabi, peas, radish and zucchini. You will learn more about each vegetable. Stop by Crow Wing Energized’s booth in the Crow Wing County Building to vote for your favorite vegetable candidate or use this link z.umn.edu/2024OVOC to vote online.
Follow Crow Wing Energized on Facebook to see who the winner is for 2024!
Carolyn McQueen, University of Minnesota Extension, is SNAP-Ed Health and Wellness Coordinator, Department of Family, Health and Wellbeing