Parking Lot Gardeners

Heroes, In Season, Local Heroes, Summer
on June 22, 2012

When a phone company dug up the corner of the Duluth Grill’s parking lot in 2009, owner Tom Hanson (second from right) imagined broccoli, lettuce, cauliflower, cherry tomatoes, peppers and more. Shortly after, a garden was born.

This year, Hanson is expanding the garden to the restaurant’s roof. By watering 80 pumpkin and squash plants with condensation from the air conditioner, he figures he’ll get at least 250 pounds of pumpkin—enough to keep the pumpkin spice bread baking all year. It’s all the more impressive when you consider northern Minnesota’s short growing season and sometimes 40-below temperatures. But in humble Minnesota fashion, Hanson insists his work is nothing special.

“Really, growing gardens isn’t hard,” he says. “You put it in, make sure it has water, and it does all the work."

—By Robert Lillegard, a food writer in Superior, Wis.