Steele County employees, students dig in their gardens - Owatonna MN: News

  • Welcome!
    Logout|My Dashboard

Steele County employees, students dig in their gardens

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Monday, May 20, 2013 7:23 pm | Updated: 12:50 pm, Tue May 21, 2013.

OWATONNA — After a brief delay in spring because of the extended Minnesota winter, Steele County residents and students are taking to their gardens to plant.

And some Steele County employees are joining in thanks to a grant the county received from Allina’s “Neighborhood Health Connections” program.

The county received a $2,500 grant from Neighborhood Health Connections, which supports wellness and promotes healthy lifestyles one neighborhood at a time. According to the program’s website, the goal of the program is to help neighbors make new personal connections and strengthen existing ones through healthy activities.

“It’s another avenue for getting to know other employees within the county system,” said Nancy Borchardt, who works at Steele County Public Health. “It’s nice to meet their families, too, as they are working in the garden.”

The grant has been used for two projects: cooking classes, which were offered to county employees last fall, and a county employee garden.

“This is part number two,” Borchardt said.

Borchardt said seven Steele County employees and their families are working the garden, which is located next to the Steele County Annex Building.

It was originally intended to be a 10-plot employee garden, but Borchardt said not enough people signed up.

“We have three beginning gardeners, which two are sharing a plot, one who hasn’t gardened for a number of years and three with experience,” she said. “It’s fun to see everyone learning.”

This spring, the county had Master Gardener Deb Arlt at the University of Minnesota Extension office teach a class on gardening.

“We want to prepare confident gardeners and confident, healthy cooks,” said Jane Nyquist, Steele County Public Health educator.

Borchardt said there are a variety of vegetables and flowers planted in the employee garden.

“We push veggies, but my plot has flowers because I think they are part of a healthy life,” she said.

Each employee paid $20 for a garden plot, which along with the grant money, helped pay for rain barrels, compost bins, garden tools and a garden shed.

Borchardt said the snowy, rainy weather pushed the planting back a month, but she hopes it dries up soon.

“I hope it doesn’t stay that way, especially for the new gardeners to encourage them to keep with it and remain enthusiastic about gardening again next year,” she said.

But the Steele County employee garden isn’t the only one being used.

The Owatonna Public Library’s community garden is also getting some use this year.

Mary Kay Feltes, library director, said the garden has been set-up for years.

“Anyone is welcome to plant, anyone is welcome to work in it and anyone is able to eat from it,” Feltes said.

Feltes said the Owatonna Alternative Learning Center is helping with the garden for its second year.

“Two years ago, we started working with the library for summer school and several students truly loved it, so we decided to do it again and let the students decide what to do,” said Renate Klugherz, a special education teacher at the ALC.

Klugherz said there are two gardens that the students have planted a variety of vegetables and fruits in. The students are also using wood from Alexander Lumber to build butterfly houses and bird houses to attract more pollinators to the garden.

The students started planting last week, but are waiting for the weather to clear up before continuing.

“The kids do it all and this year they will have a bigger and better garden,” she said.

Klugherz said the garden is a great learning tool.

“We use it for science classes and to teach students real-life habits,” she said. “The garden is filled with a wealth of information, including how to cook, build, make things and see vegetation and animals. It’s a neat way to teach the kids.”

Reach reporter Ashley Stewart at 444-2378 or follow her on @OPPashley

© 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

More about

More about

More about

  • Discuss

Welcome to the discussion.

Reader ToolBox

Forms, Contests and Special Content

Owatonna Peoples Press Forms

Contact Us


Ron Ensley, Editor and Publisher, 507-444-2367,


Debbie Ensley, Advertising Director, 507-444-2386,

Betty Frost, Advertising Assistant, 507-444-2389,

Beth Barrett, Advertising Consultant, 507-444-2383,

Diane Gengler, Advertising Consultant, 507-444-2385,

Aaron Louks,  Advertising Consultant, 507-444-2388,

David Weeks, Advertising Consultant, 507-444-2384,

Bonnie Nguyen, Classified Ad-Visor, 507-444-2397,

Danielle Schmitz, Classified Ad-Visor, 507-444-2396,


Carol Harvey, Circulation Manager, 507-444-1561,

Crystal Grovdahl, District Manager, 507-444-2362,

Melissa Johnston, District Manager, 507-444-2361,


Jeffrey Jackson, Managing Editor, 507-444-2371,

Tony Borreson, Chief Copy Desk Editor, 507-444-2373,

Kelli Lageson, Copy Desk/Paginator, 507-444-2377,

Ashley Stewart, Reporter, 507-444-2378,

Al Strain, Reporter, 507-444-2376,

Matt Hudson, Reporter, 507-44-2372,

Stacie Rions, Editorial Assistant, 507-444-2379,

Obituary Notices, 507-444-2370, or

Kaleb Roedel, Sports Editor, 507-444-2374,

Jon Weisbrod, Sports Reporter, 507-444-2374,


Kelly Kubista, Creative Services Supervisor, 507-444-2391,

Jenine Kubista, print/web ad design, 507-444-2390,

Paul Ristau, print/web ad design, 507-444-1563,

Naomi Kissling, print/web ad designer, 507-837-5452,

Nicole Gilmore, print/web ad designer, 507-444-1565,

Keeley Krebsbach, print/web ad designer, 507-444-1564


Dianna Schmidt, Bookkepper, 507-444-2365,

Paula Engebretson, Bookkeeper, 507-444-2364,

The Owatonna People's Press is published daily Tuesday-Saturday.

Business hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Phone: (507) 451-2840

Fax: (507) 444-2382

Mail: 135 W. Pearl St.

Owatonna, MN 55060


To start a subscription to the Owatonna People’s Press call 507-444-2360, 24 hours a day. Or email your name, address, and phone number to

Ask for EZ Pay-a time saving way to pay for your subscription. Through monthly automatic withdrawals from your checking or savings account or have your monthly charge applied to your credit card you will save time and ensure no interruption of your newspaper delivery.

Current rates are 12 weeks $42.60; 24 weeks $85.20; 52 weeks $184.60. EZ Pay $15.38 per month.

If you do not receive your paper by 6:30 a.m. Tuesday through Friday and 7 a.m. on Saturday, call our Customer service department at 507-444-2361 between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Saturday.


If you have a news tip, call the Editorial department at 444-2370. Call 24 hours a

day. Our fax number for press releases is 451-6020.

Sports-available 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. at 444-2374.

You may also email photos and story ideas to




Call 24 hours a day

E-mail -

Retail...... 444-2389 Fax....... 444-2382

Email -


The Customer Service Center is located inside the main entrance at 135 W. Pearl

Street. We are open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.


- USPS ISSN 416-200 -

Periodicals postage paid at Owatonna, Minnesota 55060.

Postmaster: Send address changes to Owatonna People's Press, 135 W.

Pearl St., Owatonna, MN 55060

©2013 Owatonna People's Press:

The Owatonna People's Press retains the publication rights to all content

produced or supplied by the Owatonna People's Press.

Use of said materials without the written consent of the Owatonna

People's Press is prohibited. Contents copyrighted: all rights reserved.

The Owatonna People's Press is a division of Huckle Media, LLC.

Online poll


Pro Picks

Follow us on Facebook