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Community garden gets green light

The Wadena City Council encouraged Dane Hoffman to continue working on a community garden in Wadena.

Hoffman is a Wadena-Deer Creek High School senior who is doing the project for National Honor Society. He approached the council to ask for a piece of land to work with and water access. Hoffman has also done some research on garden use agreements.

City officials expressed some concerns about liability issues on city land and who would run the project once Hoffman leaves for college next year. But Councilman Don Niles didn't see those concerns as prohibitive.

"I think we can go ahead," Niles said. "I feel really comfortable with this proposal."

Community gardens have existed in the Twin Cities for 20 years and work very successfully, he said. He thinks if the city gives a piece of land and gets things going, ways of dealing with the other issues will develop. A lot of those issues could be addressed with agreements signed by those using the garden.

"I see the risk to the city as far less than a skate park, skating rink or something like that," Niles said.

He offered a motion directing Public Works Director Ron Bucholz to work with Hoffman to find a suitable location and to give permission to organize a plan for the garden.

"If it goes [it] will be a great city asset, and if it doesn't [we] will put some grass seed in next year," Niles said. "I hope it works."

City Administrator Brad Swenson said the insurance requirements will depend on what organization runs the garden. Until more research is done, the city doesn't know the answer to that, he said.

Mayor Wayne Wolden gave Hoffman some direction on how to continue with the project. Wolden encouraged him to work with Bucholz, Swenson and organizations Hoffman is involved with such as 4-H and NHS to bring a good, solid recommendation to the council.

"Our job isn't to work through all the little problems, make all the little decisions," he said.

He encouraged Hoffman to put together a plan Swenson and Bucholz can support.

"Good work," Wolden told Hoffman. "Keep rolling."