I set out with map and camera in hand to tour community gardens in St Paul and Minneapolis on Saturday. I expected to see squash in bloom and tomatoes ripening on the vine. And I did. But what impressed me even more than the bounty of the gardens was the bounty I saw in social relationships: a sense of community in full bloom, a commitment to youth and a generosity that insists all people have locally-grown, healthy food, regardless of status or income.
Ezra Blair spoke to me about growing up on the farm and knowing the hard work of it. When asked to coordinate the Project Sweetie Pie garden at North End Community Gardens, it wasn’t fond memories of farm life that brought him in. It was the chance to work with kids and to provide a level of support to them that might otherwise be absent. Michael Chaney and others developed the program to teach kids about work and give them skills in marketing and entrepreneurship, as well as growing food.
Students from MCTC told me how community had come together from the variety of folks who cross a little piece of pavement every day in downtown Minneapolis: some living at the adjacent Drake Hotel at the edge of homelessness and others from luxury condos at Grant Park; students, church workers, and Ameriprise employees from across the street. The MCTC Urban Farm Collective gives away food every Wednesday in concert with Gethsemane Episcopal food shelf distribution.
Jardin Paraiso was born out of a desire to build community and leadership amongst Latina women in south Minneapolis who were involved in Mujeres en Acción y Poder. Across cultures and social groups, new gardens spring up and long established gardens thrive, bringing people out of their homes and into community spaces to grow food, friendships and beauty.
The Return of Idomeneo, a Picnic Operetta, by Mixed Precipitation
Community Garden Day is produced by Gardening Matters.
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