New artwork takes root at community garden

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Annie Stranger, graphic design artist and New York City resident, puts the finishing touches onto a mural Friday which she painted for The Roots CSA community garden project in Dalton Gardens. Stranger's parents, Scott and Linda, donated their unused land for the project.

DALTON GARDENS — It’s nice to be part of the community garden, especially living so far away.

After all, the plot of land with its rows of vegetables is home for graphic design artist and New York City resident Annie Stranger; she’s just been gone for nearly a decade.

“I’m a little jealous,” Stranger said of the people who broke ground on Kootenai County’s lone community garden last spring near her childhood home at 6143 Davenport St. in Dalton Gardens. “They’re doing all the work. I’m just providing something pretty to look at.”

Annie’s parents, Scott and Linda Stranger, donated their unused land to the project, now called “The Roots CSA.”

What Annie did last week was donate her artistic talents to it while vacationing here. Over three days she painted a mural on the side of a nearby building of five WPA-styled, Depression-era posters, promoting the positive side of healthy living.

“New York isn’t really my community, although I love it there and live there,” Stranger said. “Here I feel I can have a more direct impact.”

The garden is an expansion of the Kootenai Environmental Alliance’s Community Roots fresh produce collection and distribution program to feed the hungry. Unlike the traditional community garden concept with plots rented by members who plant and harvest the land themselves, the CSA model creates one large garden or farm with community shareholders who have an agreement with a farmer.

Planted this spring, the garden now boasts an artist’s touch.

“I love the concept of that, victory,” said Korrine Kreilkamp, founder of the local Community Roots program and coordinator of the Dalton Gardens project, on the style Annie used. Kreilkamp reached out to Annie to see if she would be interested in doing the artwork. “Some of the same messages hold true.”

WPA posters were created as part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal during the Great Depression. Those commissioned artists’ pieces were designed to publicize a number of government programs like health and education, theater and art exhibits, as well as travel and tourism.

The colorful style is easy to recognize with its simple messages. One of Annie’s pieces reminds visitors to eat their vegetables.

“I’m excited,” said Caleb Goss, the garden’s farmer. “I was gone a day and when I came back, she had already started it.”

While at home, Annie also touched up the sunflower mural she painted on her parents’ barn after she graduated from Coeur d’Alene High School in 2008.

“It kind of just pulled it all together,” Kreilkamp added. “Public art like that is really a neat thing.”

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