Urban Farms Offer Solutions

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MINNEAPOLIS, March 2, 2010- With its goals of expanding the local foodshed in the Twin Cities and providing urban dwellers with more access to fresh produce and the skills to grow it, the Backyard Harvest Program kicks off its second growing season.

“I’m excited that our program has been so well-received and that most of our garden participants are returning this year,” says Backyard Harvest Production Manager, Stefan Meyer. The program is expected to double in size, with a capacity of 30 urban backyard gardens for 2010. New options this year include perennial vegetable and fruit beds, as well as hourly coaching.

“My Backyard Harvest garden has literally changed my life,” enthuses Katie Simonton, a 2009 customer who has already signed up for a second season. “I’m eating better, cooking more, and feeling the joy of simply watching my food grow. I love it!”

In addition to a diverse, beautiful garden installed and tended by a knowledgeable urban farmer, plus the weekly harvest of fresh veggies, herbs, and edible flowers, customers reap a variety of other benefits. According to the program’s 2009 summary report, “learning about gardening techniques, plant varieties & cooking with fresh produce were important parts of this experience. Garden-owners also report having made related changes in their lives such as connecting more with their neighbors, buying other locally produced products & becoming more adventurous in their cooking & eating.”

Backyard Harvest is a program of the Twin Cities-based non-profit organization PRI Cold Climate. In keeping with the program’s broader mission to “connect eaters directly to their food, neighbors to one another, and urban farmers to professional opportunities,” PRI Cold Climate is offering a series of classes on different aspects of Urban Farming this Spring. To see the list of upcoming classes, visit http://www.pricoldclimate.org.

An exciting new addition to the Backyard Harvest program in 2010 is the Rivertown Commons Project. Backyard Harvest has designed and will install a garden at this large housing complex in the Frogtown neighborhood of Saint Paul. Residents of diverse ethnic backgrounds (many of them immigrants) will share the harvest, collectively follow the garden through the seasons, and come together around delicious food.

“Sharing knowledge, skills and fresh food is an important part of our overall mission of growing a sustainable urban food system,” says Backyard Harvest Coordinator Krista Leraas. “We hold that access to healthy food is a basic human right.”

Those interested in finding out more about having a Backyard Harvest garden are encouraged to contact Krista at harvest@pricoldclimate.org to arrange for a free consultation.