The time has come to harvest, shuck, and enjoy the sweet corn growing in the St. Ansgar Community Garden, located on the southeast end of the St. Ansgar Schools campus.
The garden, which yields a plethora of produce available to anyone willing to come and grab it, was started about 25 years ago by Emmett Tyler, the high school principal at the time.
“It just kind of happened,” Tyler said of the garden project.
The initial impetus for the garden was ag teacher Dale Gruis wanting his students to get some horticultural experience. Tyler worked with Gruis to create the garden, but Tyler said that once the school year ended, so did the students’ involvement in it.
The garden initially sat where the batting cages are now but eventually moved south and expanded into a much bigger area.
Tyler spent several years maintaining the garden by himself, but has been joined in the last six or seven years by Jack Miller and Lisa Patterson, two aides Tyler describes as “very instrumental.”
“They stepped forward and said, ‘Do you want some help?’ and I said, ‘Yeah, I’m about ready to quit!’”
At first, the majority of the produce went to teachers at the school, but over time countless community members have made a habit of stopping by and picking up some fresh produce, including cabbage, tomatoes, squash, and sweet corn.
“We very rarely have to throw away produce,” Tyler said. “I’ll come home and tell my wife, ‘There’s a couple ladies picking some stuff out that I don’t even know.’”
Despite the popularity of the garden, Tyler has opted to keep it free and open to the community, as he says it’s just a hobby and not a job.
“We’re just happy to have people go out there and take out produce,” Tyler said. “I think we did something good.”