Community Garden & Phelan Park

Note: The Menomonie Community Garden had unfortunately been vandalized just prior to the student visits, something we did not know at the time of our visit and writing.

By definition we recognize a community to be a group of people living together in one area, but it also means those people getting together and practicing common ownership. That is essentially what a community garden is and does. It is a place for people of all ages and nationalities to grow not only plants but themselves as equals to one another. These gardens bring people together, away from cliques and friends, to meet new people and develop broader networks of friendship. This is why I enjoyed the garden, why I hope to support them in years to come.

– Tessa W.

Though arguably small, I feel that the Menomonie Community Garden contributes much to the city. Most obviously, it provides the space for those who otherwise don’t have the land to keep a garden. The garden is also a relaxing and overall pleasant spot for guests and residents alike to visit. Lastly, the garden helps promote a strong sense of community and sharing through a hobby that is otherwise largely done privately in one’s backyard.

The park’s contribution to the community is a little more subtle than the garden’s; it is simply a nice spot for people to rest and play. The park features a playground for kids, a small pond, a shaded pavilion where one can sit or have a picnic, and even a small skatepark for those who are slightly more “extreme.” A site doesn’t have to serve a practical purpose to be important or improve the quality of a community, which this park demonstrates.

– Austin W.

When you first enter the community garden it’s underwhelming.  It’s just a big, fenced in lot with a bunch of gardens at various levels of disrepair.  It’s similar to when you first enter Menomonie.  It’s just a small town with areas that have been struck hard by the economic downfall.  In both the garden and Menomonie, one has to look close to find what makes it great.

The garden promotes a sense of community within Menomonie, providing a space where everyone can come together in the same activity, but I think it represents the community more than in contributes to it.  Each of the garden plots had its own personality.

One lot has an adorable, hand painted sign in front that reads, “OuR 1st gArDen – Mid & ElteN”.  It’s not a particularly impressive lot, just a spattering of tomatoes and squash, distributed unevenly throughout the weed-infested dirt.  But the little shovel and hoe that are still lying within the lot give it a certain childish charm.  This lot could belong to the very same children who chalked street signs and road markers onto the sidewalk outside their house so they could pretend to drive on their bikes.

Another lot, one of the first you see when you enter the community garden, is a neatly organized flower garden.  Each flower has its own specific row and the back is lined with healthy green corn.  It’s a well-loved garden.  All the flowers are vibrant and blooming.  Perhaps it belonged to the individual in the community who had the brilliant red and white door that stands out against the bland siding.

Over all, the entire garden is just a small part of the community, but when you ask what it represents in the community, it becomes a thorough and in-depth explanation of the small town of Menomonie.

Barb Y.

How does the community garden bring Menomonee a sense of community?

The community garden is a very nice location that is basically the definition of what a community should be. It is place where people come and work together to further a single purpose, in this case, a garden. The garden also does not single out whether a person has money or not because it is very cheap to buy a small plot of land. Plus, renting the plot shows that a person actually wants to be part of the community garden experience.

I really like the whole idea behind a community garden. It gives people a chance to do something that they normally would not be able to do, plus, with other people of the community. The thing that I really did not like was how bad in shape the whole place was. It looks like the community tried, but just not hard enough. The way it was could be a repercussion of the harsh summer it endured but, either way, it did not look up to par. I will give the gardens a break though, considering how it is only a few years old. I hope the community here can turn it around and make the gardens into what they were meant to be.

– Tyler W.

I think the idea of a Community Garden is very good, but in this situation it was not executed very well. Something is obviously not going right that most of the plants are dead and the garden isn’t all filled. I think it’s great that they give people an opportunity to grow fresh produce that otherwise wouldn’t be able to. A community garden is a good idea because it brings together people of common interest to form essentially, a community. The sunflowers were very impressive, the alive ones that is. I didn’t like that it felt as if the garden was abandoned. So, I think with a little upkeep it would be a great addition to the city of Menomonie.

The park was pretty cool, especially seeing the frogs and turtles. It was very peaceful and a great place for people of all ages, as was the garden.

– Jenna W.

I chose to do an acrostic poem because I had a bunch of random thoughts about our experience!

Cool Breeze
Our First Garden’ Sign
Many Signs of Fall
Multitude of Animals
Unidentified Plants
Neglected Gardens
Irrigation Systems
Tiny Watermelons
Yellow Marigolds

Giant Sunflowers
Abundance of Tomatoes
Red Peppers
Dried Corn Stalks
Empty Plots
Nice Flowers

– Hanah W.

The community gardens add to the community by luring citizens of similar interests to a place with a common goal. By allowing agriculture hobby people to grow plots side by side, it forces members to interact on a social basis with their hobby. The work required to maintain this garden will require teamwork, cooperation, and organization making all involved not only more connected but efficient. Finally, younger members of the garden can obtain valuable knowledge from older/more-experienced members. Essentially this pass down of knowledge would strengthen the community in a teaching sense.

I appreciate the fact that the community gardens is a good attempt to gather a community, especially one built on a farmer culture, to strengthen the connection members of the town have together. The fact is though; its progress has not been progressing well. Few plots are taken, and the ones that are, aren’t maintained as well as they should be.  Maybe it’s the fact that technology is turning our communities into house living, hermit hiding people who hide in the Internet and live through the digital characters of games. More initiative needs to be taken, and less reliance on the idea that people have sustained interest in holding a garden plot.

– Lucas Z.

My first impression of the area was the need of nurture. Menomonie is a small town that has the potential to be a better place and with each year, and that’s exactly was it achieves. The plants in the Community Garden tend to be neglected and it just ignited my want to grow something there. The playground was enjoyable and unleashed the child in me that figured college would be a time to grow into a mature adult for once. Luckily, I was disproven. I don’t find anything to dislike here in Menomonie, but it is different to see how much this community has to offer.

– Melissa W.


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