Dirt Party

Jim Matteson is shown here working at his daughter Shanai’s community garden in Minneapolis. Matteson is trying to get an urban gardening program started in Aitkin County.

Jim Matteson, inspired by his daughter’s community garden in Minneapolis that is dubbed “Dirt Party,” is working to build enthusiasm around urban gardening in his hometown of Aitkin.

Dirt Party North is the name he is giving to this initiative to coordinate and assist people in and around the city of Aitkin who have a desire to be more involved in growing food for themselves and their neighbors.

Matteson began talking about his dream last summer, when he was volunteer music coordinator for the Aitkin Farmers Market.

The lack of involved vegetable producers concerned him, and he wondered how much food Aitkin urban farmers and gardeners could really produce if they had some help and worked together.

Matteson is a tireless volunteer around Aitkin, working with Aitkin County C.A.R.E. to help seniors with yard work, delivering for Meals on Wheels, helping out at the Aitkin Public Library and acting as volunteer music coordinator for the Aitkin Farmers Market.

He thought that if he could get a good rear-tine tiller and some hand tools donated, he would be able to offer his services to Aitkin residents who want to establish a vegetable garden. He would also appreciate donations of seeds, compost, plant starts and labor.

Matteson realizes that urban gardeners have different needs; they might need help planting, tilling, weeding, mulching or watering.  Or, maybe they have some space they could let someone else use to grow vegetables.

“This is becoming time sensitive,” he said recently.  “What do my fellow Aitkinites need in the way of help and encouragement for their garden plans?  We will have a free vendor space this summer at the Aitkin Farmers Market if people have fruit and vegetables they want to sell to others in Aitkin. Let’s make this happen.”

Matteson recently set up a GoFundMe site Called Dirt Party North to raise money for the Aitkin urban farming initiative.

If interested in donating time, materials or tools, contact Jim Matteson on Facebook or on his cell phone at 218-429-2540.

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