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St. Paul Park residents gather for 'Greet Your Garden' community garden launch

Area residents didn't let the rain stop the Greet Your Garden event. Interested gardeners visit an information booth Saturday. Bulletin photo by Emily Buss

Stormy weather Saturday morning may have dampened the soil too much to plant, but it did not stop the Greet Your Garden festivities from taking place inside the St. Paul Park City Hall.

The quick thinking of event organizers brought informational booths indoors and still attracted many area residents to soak up gardening tips and register for available plots in the city's community garden.

On display were the two giant, colorful murals painted by local artist Richard Hubal, who said his paintings will help gardeners get back in touch with their inner souls.

"These paintings show mercy, growth and giving, as well as humbly receiving," Hubal said of one of his paintings, which shows produce and hands intertwined.

The second mural, which depicts Grey Cloud Island at dusk, is a mixture of deep blue hues and hidden high in a tree is a bald eagle. Standing taller than 10 feet, the murals only took Hubal four days to complete.

Event-goers indulged in homemade jams, fresh honey, and pancetta wrapped asparagus and were entertained by the vocal stylings of high school senior Stephy Moore.

Local beekeeper and owner of Heritage Woods Joerg Kessler educated attendees and many children on what makes his homemade honey so sweet.

"We're really interested in spreading information about beehives in Minnesota," he said. "The more people know about bees the more they get involved."

Kessler sampled his Goldenrod honey and displayed a beehive with nearly 3,000 honey bees inside.

The St. Paul Park community garden, located on the grounds of the City Hall, consists of eight raised plots for individuals to grow crops. Two larger raised beds will be dedicated to growing produce for the Friends in Need Food Shelf and Stone Soup Thrift Shop, both in St. Paul Park and serving south Washington County families.

"This community garden is feeding families," Hubal said. "That's pretty cool."

Event organizer and St. Paul Park City Council member Jennifer Cheesman said in an interview that once the garden is fully functioning, she hopes it becomes a sanctuary for gardeners.

"The garden is a work in progress and over time, with support from the community, we believe this little gem will turn into something quite wonderful," Cheesman said.

For more information about the community garden or to rent a plot, visit the city website and click on Recreation.