While many flock to the Minnesota State Fair for fried food, horticulture and landscape students from Hennepin Technical College come for the green.
As crowds shuffle by, the students water, trim and weed the plants and flowers that adorn a plot just south of the Grandstand near Carnes Avenue and Nelson Street. They are doing it as part of the Fair's Adopt-A-Garden program. Thirty-three businesses, clubs or community groups sponsor a plot of land on the fairgrounds and tend to it throughout the year. Hennepin Tech is the only school participating.
"We have a student that actually manages greenhouses here at the State Fair and when one landscaper wasn't able to hold up the contract, she thought of us," says Hennepin Tech horticulture instructor Debra Kvamme. "So we came in and decided to make this space our own."
Kvamme's Professional Gardening class took over this summer, weeding, remulching and replanting the space. The school brought flowers and plants over from Hennepin Tech's greenhouses. The Landscape Construction class built two wooden chairs that sit in the center of the garden. Fairgoers are invited to walk among the plants and to rest on the rocks or chairs.
"It is super zen," says horticulture student Jenny Nguyen. "When you look around there’s crowds walking around all over but then you get to come here and just relax and have your cheese curds and just sit."
Kvamme says the goal of the technical college is to give students hands-on experiences. She says the garden plot will serve as a classroom from spring to fall.
"We learn different things in the space as we're working," says Kvamme. "In September another class will come in here and maybe do another project getting ready for next year."
Renee Banot reporting
August 30, 2011