LaFleur

Holmen Lions Club member Vern LaFleur helps at the Holmen Community Garden Tuesday. The garden is open to the community and all produce harvested goes back to those in need.

The Holmen Community Garden has been an “exciting challenge” in the first year of its existence, according to Holmen Rotary Club member Tom Knobloch.

After checking out the Kane Street Garden in La Crosse, the club knew they wanted to give community gardening a try in Holmen.

Knobloch chairs the community service committee for the rotary. After years of talking about getting a community garden started, it all came together this year for the rotary.

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Tom Knobloch

Knobloch

“We just decided to go for it,” said Knobloch. “It’s been a challenge, but we had to start somewhere and we are very glad we did.”

The first step was to find a venue. Gundersen Health System stepped up to lease Holmen Rotary a plot of land across from Prairie View Elementary School.

Gundersen was happy to help get the garden started, according to Holmen clinic manager Heidi Powell.

“We were very happy to partner with them,” Powell said. “We really strive to help out the community in unique ways and this is one of those ways. We are happy to make another commitment to the community of Holmen with the garden.”

The garden has already harvested close to 300 pounds of produce, which is given to local food pantries and other people in need.

“We want to feed the hungry,” said Knobloch. “Being involved in rotary is a year-round thing, it’s not just the Rotary Lights celebration each winter. And this is another great way to help those in need.”

Powell said the food going back to the community was a big part in Gundersen’s decision to lease the land for the garden.

“We really want to help enrich the lives of those both in and outside of our walls,” she said.

While 300 pounds of produce is impressive on its own, the garden has plenty more coming.

“I am extremely pleased with how its gone,” Knobloch said. “We really didn’t know what to expect in our first year but it has been great. We still have all of the heavy stuff in the ground yet like the potatoes and melons so we are excited to see how they turn out.”

Dave Mocco is a member of the Holmen Lions Club. When he heard about the garden, he knew he wanted to help out.

“I’ve always had a garden,” he said. “I’ve spent a lot of time out here and its been so much fun—a lot of work, but a lot of fun.”

Mocco anticipated that the garden will produce thousands of pounds in vegetables and fruit. In comparison, the Kane Street Garden grew just over 500 pounds in its inaugural year.

“It’s going as good as planned,” Mocco said. “Sometimes I think we planted too much or made it too big but the learning process has been great. We’re excited for what’s to come.”

The garden is open to all members of the Holmen community and is actively looking for volunteers.

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Benjamin Pierce is a news reporter for the River Valley Media Group working for three weekly newspapers that cover Bangor, Onalaska, Holmen, and West Salem in the dairy state. He also covers La Crescent in Minnesota and can be reached at 608-791-8311.

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