Frogtown Farm plans move forward in St. Paul

Frogtown Park, the 12-acre space in the 900 block of Lafond Avenue is now one step closer to completion. The project, which is the fruit of years of organizing by Frogtown community members, will establish a five-acre urban demonstration farm on the site and retain other areas as a nature sanctuary and recreation area. This space once housed the Sisters of the Good Shepherd Convent and later belonged to the Wilder Foundation. Following the Frogtown Gardens community campaign, the Wilder Foundation made a deal with the Trust for Public Land in June 2012, agreeing to sell the land at a marked down price of $2.2 million.Rick Heydinger, acting chair of the Frogtown Farm board of directors described a three-step process:1) The Wilder Foundation now owns the land. In June 2012, Wilder agreed to sell sell twelve acres that will comprise Frogtown Park to the Trust for Public Land for $2.2 million. Continue Reading

OUR STORIES | Meet Chai and Cha of Chai’s Cooking at St. Paul’s Hmongtown Market

“On a normal day, I get up at 5 in the morning. After getting dressed I reach my shop, open the oven and start preparing the meat at around 7 to 7:30 a.m. depending on the traffic,” explains Chai, seated at the dining area near the restaurants at Hmongtown Marketplace. “I try my best to get everything ready before customers arrive at around 9.”Chai is the co-owner of Chai’s Cooking, one of many Hmong-owned restaurants at Hmongtown Marketplace. She runs the restaurant with the help of her husband Cha, who works at the Boston Scientific Corporation for about 8-9 hours daily. Together they opened the restaurant in September last year as Chai wished to co-own a shop with her husband. Continue Reading

Hmong Marketplace: Lively now, and looking to expansion in 2013

Walking into a collection of red modest-looking warehouse buildings in Frogtown — one of Saint Paul’s most diverse neighborhoods — I was immediately transported to the setting of a Southeast Asian street market. The aura of the location brought back childhood memories of weekly trips to the local Indian street market and the aroma of exotic delicacies and freshly baked sesame bread tingled my tastebuds and made my mouth water. An intricate crisscross of shops selling everything from Hmong music, pretty embroidered dresses, utensils, toilet paper and fresh meat, with roughly a third of the stalls dedicated to food immediately greeted my eyes.This cultural and food haven is known as the Hmongtown Marketplace, located only a few blocks from the Minnesota State Capitol at 217 Como Avenue in St. Paul. Built out of a converted lumberyard, the marketplace not only caters to the Hmong population but also to other locals who are interested in Hmong culture and cuisine.Minnesota has one of the largest Hmong communities in the country, with more than 66,000 Hmong residents, according to the 2010 census. Continue Reading

From India to Macalester to Minneapolis: One tutor’s journey

Akanksha Dua, an international student studying Genetics and Creative Writing at Macalester College leads an ordinary college life. Her time is usually cluttered with class assignments and weekly tests. Her days are a frenzy between hourly classes, group study projects, meals and inadequate sleep. When she left India to pursue her undergraduate studies in Macalester College, she was determined to receive a well-rounded education in the United States.Each of our interns in the last semester (Fall 2012) had volunteered in a tutoring program. As part of their final project, they put together a series of stories — a list of volunteer tutoring opportunities, an evaluation of what makes tutoring effective, and three individual stories, linked here. “I had always wanted to be able to combine my education with other issues I was passionate about,” she said. Continue Reading