Community garden a labor of love

Categories: Around the Diocese

7C garden 2

Mirella Waldo, 9, examines a sunflower from the community garden in Rockville Aug. 21. Photo by Dianne Towalski / The Visitor

By Dianne Towalski
The Visitor

Moises Waldo is a gardener who works hard tending to the vegetables and flowers he planted in his 20-by-25-foot section of the Community Garden in Rockville.

And he is seeing the fruits of his labor. After working in the garden Aug. 21 with the help of his five children, they walked home with each child carrying a large zucchini and some tomatoes. Waldo carried a large watermelon on his shoulder.

“I like to come here every day and just look at it,” said Waldo, whose wife Guillermina manages the garden. “This is what we do in Mexico.”

The garden, situated near the cemetery on Chestnut Street, is part of a 14-acre plot of land owned by Mary of the Immaculate Conception Parish and cultivated by local farmer Floyd Beumer in exchange for his snow removal services in the winter.

According to Beumer, about four years ago talk started about having a community garden, partly for the growing Latino community to have a place to grow their own produce and partly for aspiring local gardeners.

Father Tony Kroll, a retired priest of the Diocese of St. Cloud who works with the Latino community in Rockville, took part in the initial conversation along with café owner George Bechtold and his son, Father Mitch Bechtold.

Father Kroll, who shares a garden plot with Father Ronald Weyrens, pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish, said he worried about members of the Latino community living in apartments and not being able to enjoy the land.

“I’d like to see that this garden would be a place for them to get out, just to be outside and see something growing,” he said.

Having lived in Central and South America, he said he has learned that people in those areas have a deep appreciation for plants and the Earth.

“They have a love for plants that I don’t have,” he said. “I grew up on a farm where plants you produce get sold or fed to the cows. I don’t have that appreciation for a plant, just because it’s a plant.”

It’s not something they talk about, but he can see it in the way they tend to their gardens.

“I want to respect that value that they have,” he said.

Beumer agreed to devote a one-acre area to the garden, even tilling the soil for the gardeners and getting it ready for planting.

Participants do not have to pay to have a plot in the garden. He also provides a water tank for the gardeners.
“I just enjoy helping people,” he said.

The first couple of years were slow and not all of the 14 sections were taken, Beumer said. But this year all of them are being used and more space will be added next year if needed.

For his part, Bechtold measured out the sections so one could be assigned to each gardener. He also planted a large plot on the far end of the garden himself and shares the fruits and vegetables with anyone who wants to pick them.

His garden includes several different kinds of watermelon, cantaloupe, peppers and squash. When asked what he would do with anything that’s left over, he said, “There’s never anything left.”

Waldo appreciates everything that has been done to make the garden possible.

“I’m very happy for what we have here.”