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Minneapolis offers vacant lots to local gardeners
The city of Minneapolis is offering leases on 20 vacant lots to prospective community gardeners this year, in a pilot program designed to increase residents' access to healthy food, build connections between neighbors, add beauty to the city, and decrease local fuel waste.
The project is organized and managed by Homegrown Minneapolis, a group that includes city council members, local residents, representatives of schools and the parks board, and local business members.
The pilot program is the first of its kind in Minneapolis. Karin Berkholtz, community planning manager for the city of Minneapolis, explained that the city expects the project to change and grow over time, perhaps involving other groups. These potential groups include the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board and school districts. One idea is to incorporate the garden program into school curriculum.
As the season progresses, Homegrown Minneapolis will request feedback from groups leasing the sites, asking for suggestions on how to expand and improve the program.
Berkholtz explained that Homegrown Minneapolis chose sites across the city, to increase access for different neighborhoods. The sites are expected to remain available for community gardening for years to come, because they are considered inappropriate for building. Some lots are too small, for example, or are in a location with limited access.
Since these plots have never been used for gardening, Berkholtz said that some might not be "the right parcels for community gardens." In that case, other city-owned spaces may be substituted or added as the project evolves.
Interested parties can apply with documents available on the Homegrown Minneapolis website. Applicants must create a plan for their chosen site, including plot sizes, sketches, water access, and trash and compost locations. Other parts of the application process include a written proposal of how the community garden will help the neighborhood and how the site will be maintained. Gardeners will be accepted in the order their applications are received.
While the city will charge only $1 for each garden lease, approved groups will need to provide a $250 deposit, as well as a $25 administration fee. Those who are completely new to community gardening are eligible for a one-year lease, while more experienced gardeners can sign up for three years at a time. The deposit is meant to ensure that leaseholders maintain their sites throughout the year, which includes removing snow and clearing any trash.
So far, Berkholtz says, one site has been assigned to a plan created by a northeast Minneapolis group. Twenty-one neighbors have already begun working with the Parks and Recreation Board to clear several tree stumps from 1213 Spring Street NE. They are expected to begin planting this summer. Homegrown Minneapolis has also reviewed two other site plans, and fielded about six inquiries about the application process.
For more information, to see a larger version of the map, or to apply for a lot, see:
For resources on community gardening in the Twin Cities, see:
©2010 Ashley Kuehl