If you have ever wanted to cook with fresh produce that is free, in season, and grown locally, stop by the demonstration garden at The Nature Place!

The demonstration produce garden at The Nature Place provides food for staff, volunteers, and community members. The garden is used in programming to teach people about the importance of sustainable gardening practices and to foster an appreciation for growing your own food. The free produce bin pictured above is where community members can take produce at their leisure.

As the month of August comes to a close, the garden is in peak harvest. The produce to look out for in the bin currently are tomatoes, squash, beans, zucchini, ground cherries, basil, peppers, and carrots. Eating vegetables that are in season is one of the best ways to practice sustainable living. Stop by the free produce bin outside the garden anytime to see what is in season and add fresh produce to your meals. The bin is first come, first serve, typically filled Monday-Friday mornings.

One method used in the garden is three sisters planting. This method of planting comes from a traditional Native American practice that has been used for hundreds of years and is still used today. The three sisters are corn, beans, and squash. The corn and beans are planted in the center. Since green beans are a climbing plant, they use the corn stalk as a trellis. The beans also help the corn and the squash because they are a nitrogen fixer. This means that the beans take the nitrogen from the air, convert it to a usable form for all plants, and distribute it to the soil where it can be absorbed by the corn and squash. The squash is planted in a ring around the corn and the beans. The purpose of the squash is to keep out harmful insects from the corn and beans.