Frogtown Gardens will hold a meeting called “A Vision for Frogtown Farm,” on Thursday, January 14 from 6-8 p.m. in the Community Room at Rondo Outreach Library of St. Paul. Members of Frogtown Gardens will present a plan to build a community farm on a 13-acre vacant area, located at Victoria Street and Van Buren Avenue, the former headquarters of Amherst H. Wilder Foundation. Those interested in helping out with the project are highly encouraged to attend.
The idea to build a farm arose from a group of four longtime community residents, Patricia Ohmans, Tony Schmitz, Soyini Guyton, and Seitu Jones, who collectively view urban agriculture as a solution to various issues affecting Frogtown. Ohmans is a public health specialist, Schmitz a journalist, Guyton a social service worker, and Jones an artist.
Frogtown Farm’s prospectus details an ambitious plan for the plot, one that Ohmans described as having resulted from residing in the area long enough to realize the assets and needs of the community. “Part of the reason we bit off such a big idea is that among the four of use, we’ve been living in Frogtown for 88 years,” said Ohmans. “It kind of came naturally to see what’s needed here.”
The farm’s plan would preserve a sledding hill and acreage of oak trees on the unused lot, two elements to the space that Ohmans notes are hard to find elsewhere in Frogtown or greater St. Paul. The group’s prospectus, which is more of a jumping off point in its early stage, also includes a greenhouse, an orchard, beehives, chicken coops, a mini-farmer’s market, and a restaurant. Frogtown Farm would provide healthy food to a low-income community, where resources are usually too scarce to allow such choices. It would also provide recreational options and a deeper sense pride in the community.
Ohmans notes that Frogtown Farm’s plan is much like those already implemented in other cities, including Milwaukee and Boston. At the current stage of the plan, what Frogtown Farm needs is community support, to show leaders that people want this plan in action. “It’ll be an opportunity for people to share ideas with St. Paul officials,” said Ohmans. “Then we’ll see what the next step is, based on people’s reactions.”