MARQUETTE - The first day of spring came and went on Tuesday, following a week of unseasonably warm temperatures that got many area residents thinking about their gardens.
For those residents who may not have a space in their own yards - or those who may not even have a yard - a community garden is the best option for growing their own food.
Several local townships and cities have established community gardens and others are working toward starting a garden soon.
Marquette Community Gardens members work last spring to get the Park Cemetery garden ready for planting. With the recent warm trend, organizers are once again planning to plant. (Journal file photo)
The Marquette Community Garden program has been in place since 2003, and includes gardens located next to the Fit Strip and at Presque Isle Park.
Ellen Weingarten, MCG board member, said all 73 beds are already spoken for this year, though interested parties can put their names on a waiting list.
Time spent on the waiting list is not usually more than a year, Weingarten said.
The MCG is a home for gardeners of all experience levels and all ages.
"We have beginners, we have experienced gardeners, we have families and retired folks, we have a couple of members who are in their 90s," Weingarten said.
The MCG has a handicap-accessible garden bed.
While most MCG beds are for individual use, the group also reserves a few beds every year to be used for growing food for local food banks and for children's groups such as the Girl Scouts.
There are a plethora of reasons to grow your own food, Weingarten said, from tight grocery budgets to fostering a better relationship with the food we eat.
"People are interested in having greater control over what they eat and where they get it from," she said. "I think people are interested, in general, in gardening on the whole."
Bed rental ranges from $15-$25 and any Marquette resident is eligible to participate.
Weingarten said anyone interested in more information about the gardens can email firstname.lastname@example.org
Marquette Township Manager Randy Girard said the township should have a community garden available for its residents this year.
Since a Marquette Township community garden would be run strictly on a volunteer basis, Girard said it isn't easy keeping to a set schedule.
"We set aside some property last year and a small group of people worked on it. The weather got too bad late in the year and they didn't get enough accomplished," Girard said. "I'm expecting that in April, May of this year, we're going to have some activity."
Anyone with questions about Marquette Township's community garden can call the township offices at 228-6220.
A community garden in Ishpeming is in its second year of operation this year and is open to any Marquette County resident wishing to have a bed.
Grace Community Garden is located on the corner of First and Euclid streets in Ishpeming. Beds cost around $20 a piece.
GCG spokesman Evan David said only 17 of the 30 beds at the garden are spoken for and he's hoping to open up an additional five beds this year, so any county resident looking for some gardening space should apply.
"Based on interest last year, we're expecting to get more people," David said.
The Ishpeming garden, run partially through a grant provided by the Marquette County Health Department and located on land donated by Grace Episcopal Church, encourages gardeners of all levels to try their hand at growing their own food.
Organic compost is encouraged at GCG.
"We try and avoid any pesticides, any chemical fertilizers," David said. "We're shooting for organic fertilizer as much as possible."
To reserve a bed at GCG, contact David at 810-334-8334 or email him at email@example.com.
K.I. Sawyer also ran a community garden for the first time last year, with all but one of its 20 beds taken, and Bell Hospital completed work last year on its garden which included 30 raised beds.
Both gardens will be operated again this year.
Chocolay Township is still working on opening a community garden for its residents.
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.