If all goes well, the Standish and Ericsson neighborhoods will have a community garden next spring. A group of residents, known informally as the Standish Ericsson Community Garden Planning Group, has been working toward this goal for nearly a year. The group has identified a site, a triangular lot in the 4100 block of 32nd Ave. S., along the light rail line, and is working to lease it from the owner, the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The SENA Board has agreed to be the fiscal agent for the project.
A community garden is a space divided into plots in which individuals or families plant vegetables and flowers. Each pays a small amount per year to cover necessary expenses (e.g., fencing, a shed for tools, some liability insurance). In areas like Standish and Ericsson that have small back yards, a community garden gives people the opportunity to grow more and larger produce. It builds community because the gardeners come from different parts of the neighborhood and may be from different ethnic cultures. It increases safety by being a place where people are outside paying attention to what goes on in that part of the neighborhood. Many other neighborhoods in Minneapolis have community gardens.
These were some of the advantages mentioned when the topic of a community garden came up on the Minneapolis Standish Ericsson Neighbors Forum about this time last year. So many people were excited about a garden that several meetings were held during the winter to discuss the possibilities. Sarah Claassen, from the Land Stewardship Project, a nonprofit organization that has helped other neighborhoods with similar gardens, helped to set up the meetings and guide the group through the process of identifying the land and working with the various agencies that need to be involved. Eventually, the plan is for SENA to sign a lease on behalf of the garden group.
Before that happens, a community meeting is planned so that everyone in the neighborhoods is informed.
The planning group has many details to think about yet. A source of water must be secured (probably from the nearby hydrant, if
the city agrees). The size of the plots, and therefore how many people will be able to have one, has not yet been determined. However, the site was chosen because it is quite large, as well as flat, sunny, and empty. Standish and Ericsson residents will have first pick of the plots.
The people involved in the planning are very excited about the project. Rachel Fang, who has been a supporter from the beginning, has “met so many new people!” Laura Hansen, another member of the planning group, says, “Think of all the happy gardeners watching our neighborhood and using the land in an environmentally sound way!”