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Omaha Magazine

Kurt Goetzinger’s Green Passion at Benson Community Garden

Aug 01, 2022 11:47AM ● By Mike Whye

 When Kurt Goetzinger bought a house in the Benson area in 1998, he looked at the empty corner lot next door and realized no one had developed it since he crossed it as a boy using a shortcut to school. When he contacted its owner, he was told it was not for sale. 

He didn’t give up. Near the end of 2010, he approached the owner again. This time, rather than asking if the lot was for sale, he offered money and, to his surprise, the owner sold it to him. Soon, Goetzinger, 54, began creating his community garden, which he named Benson Community Garden, and offered 36 plots to individuals and families. 

As the owner of Omaha Advertising, the marketing and public relations firm he started in 2004, Goetzinger put his PR skills to work. “Social media wasn’t big then, so I sent out press releases to the news stations and other places,” he said. “I put up a goofy-looking plywood sign in the middle of the lot that read, ‘Community Garden Coming Soon,’ and people began to wonder, what’s that?”  

On Earth Day 2011, Goetzinger opened his garden with about 60 people, including news crews from Omaha’s four TV stations and KFAB, Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle, and a representative from Sen. Ben Nelson’s office. “We filled about half the plots that day,” Goetzinger recalled. 

Since then, Benson Community Garden has been full and has a short waiting list. In 2020, Goetzinger noticed an increase in activity by the gardeners. “Everyone was eager to get out of the house,” he said.   

Half of the plots measure 4 feet by 8 feet and rent for $35 a year. The others measure 4 feet by 12 feet and go for $45 annually. “The  money pays for insurance and land-owner taxes,” Goetzinger said. 

Pressure-treated wood lines three sides of each plot. The side that faces west, which is slightly uphill, is open to gather rain water running off the slope. Gardeners who want more water rely on a 250-gallon tank that collects rainwater off the roof of Goetzinger’s house. They then carry the water in watering cans to their plants. Hoses are not permitted to avoid damaging anyone’s plants. Insecticides and herbicides are not permitted. “We’re organic here,” Goetzinger said. 

Anyone needing tools will find them in a shed on the property. Its solar panels permit gardeners to recharge their phones and other devices, said Goetzinger while sitting in the shade of a pergola, which stands on a raised earthen berm on a corner of the lot. “We call this our ‘Earth Stage,’” Goetzinger said. 

Sometimes the pergola is used for live events, including musical performances. A billboard occasionally serves as a movie screen. 

Goetzinger noted that people can’t just wander into the garden to pick the goodies. Those are the property of the gardeners. However, all the gardeners can share what grows in the strawberry patch and on the blueberry, raspberry, and blackberry bushes.  Trees on the property produce cherries, plums, pears, and different types of apples. Flanked by colorful flowerbeds, a wood rail fence lines the property. 

Maegan Woolf, who lives nearby, said she planted flowers her first year, three years ago. “This year I have four kinds of tomatoes, four green bean plants, four cucumber [plants], and four pepper [plants],” she said. 

After being without a garden in dry Utah for years, Dessi Price, who also lives near the garden, enjoys raising tomatoes and peppers she acquired from her native Bulgaria. This year she’s added okra, zucchini, and Brussels sprouts. “Part of the fun is talking with others, meeting people, and making friends,” Price said. That’s just what Goetzinger loves to hear. 

Visit for information about Benson Community Garden, at North 60th and Lafayette streets.

This article originally appeared in the August/September 2022  issue of B2B Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.  


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