Brookings community gardens celebrating 50 years

Courtesy photo: The city’s community gardens were moved to the current location in 1983.

BROOKINGS – According to the City Clerk’s Office, the original community gardens' location was on 22nd Avenue South, in the southeast corner of Edgebrook Golf Course. 

It was located where the current back nine is (by the pumphouse). The original community gardens was the idea of former Parks & Recreation Director Allyn Frerichs. It held just under 100 plots, which was large for the times. 

With the expansion of Edgebrook Golf Course to 18 holes in 1983, the community gardens were moved to their current location on the Highway 14 bypass. They were renamed the Douglas Chittick Community Gardens, who was a former city commissioner. Chittick played a vital role in moving the gardens to their new location, and the ability to expand for additional users.

Today, the Douglas Chittick Community Gardens boast 18 acres with over 500 20x25 plots (annual and perennial). These plots are rented annually on a first-come, first-serve basis.

South Dakota is ranked sixth in the nation for the number of community gardens per capita. Reminiscent of the Victory Gardens of World War II, where 40% of the fresh fruit and vegetables consumed in the U.S. was produced, community gardens keep our culture of gardening alive and provide fresh fruits and vegetables for the gardeners, their families and friends. Community gardens do more than just produce food. They help cultivate community. If you are out for a drive around 8 p.m. at night, drive by the community gardens and see the families and groups at the gardens sharing the common ground of the DC Community Gardens. You will see gardeners helping each other and as always offering advice.

A group of SDSU Master Gardeners have formed a group called the “Friends of the Brookings Community Gardens.” You can find them on Facebook. They post pictures of their gardens and the gardeners and host one to two events a year. The annual open house was held over Father’s Day weekend. Be watching for a possible Harvest Festival in fall 2021. We want to encourage people to become gardeners at our community gardens. We are there to help you get started. If you have any questions about the community gardens and renting a plot, contact the Brookings Parks and Recreation Office at 692-2708.

If you have any history to share about the community gardens, the City Clerk’s Office is continuing to compile more information about the gardens and will welcome your information. They can be reached at 605-692-6281 or [email protected]

If you have gardening question, post it on Facebook or come and look us up at our booth at the downtown Farmers Market. One of my favorite quotes from Ben Franklin goes like this: “Tell me and I will forget. Teach me and I may remember. Involve me and I will learn.” At the Friends, we follow this up and say, “Come garden with us!”

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