Monday, August 24, 2009

North Minneapolis And The Parade Of Gardens...

Photo By Jeff Skrenes

Jeff Skrenes, the Hawthorne Neighborhood's ubiquitous Housing Director, was at the Minneapolis Parade of Gardens and wrote a great summary of NoMi's contribution to the parade. Plus he took a lot of pictures and shared them on Facebook. Here is Jeff's firsthand report, which I am blogging from a cheap hotel room in Frankfort, Kentucky on my trucking adventure...

Jeff says...

I made it a point to get to every community garden in NoMi during the 2009 Parade of Community Gardens. Since I also had the EcoVillage design meeting until 12:30, I had to use my super Hawkman speed to finish up before 2:00 when the parade was done. I just barely made it. Here is a summary of the gardens NoMi boasts. The photos can be found on my facebook profile, and here is the public link:

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=98892&id=607182458&l=b2e94c4762

Obviously I had to stop at the South Hawthorne Community Garden first. But since that garden has been prominently profiled on this blog already, I dedicated myself to getting new information on the others.

# The Urban Farming Community Garden is located at 1119 Morgan Ave N. The contact person has perhaps the coolest and most appropriate community garden name out of anyone I met the entire day: Cherry Flowers. This garden is in its second season and volunteers weed and tend it. One person even came in with some special fertilizer that they knew would be the right kind for the corn, and sure enough the corn here was taller than the corn at any other NoMi garden. They also grow tomatoes, watermelon, kale (lots of that here), cucumbers, greens, broccoli, cabbage, green beans, and pumpkins. They offered green beans and mint tea to me, and both were delicious.

This garden could perhaps be more accurately described as a communal garden. Despite the fact that area residents and volunteers from New Life and St. John's churches frequently plant, weed, and otherwise tend the garden, people just come along and pick the veggies when they're ripe. In talking with several people, there didn't seem to be a real system for who gets what, and somehow that all seems to be working just fine for them.

They were also cooking beans on a cardboard surface covered with tin foil. "Solar cooking," they called it. I wish I'd had time to stick around and see how that turned out, but I was on to the...

# McKinley Community Garden at 3350 N 4th St. This garden has been around for six years and is run by the McKinley neighborhood association. They grow corn, tomatoes, carrots, squash, strawberries, peppers, watermelon, rhubarb, greens, onions, and herbs. Some residents have plots of their own that they tend and harvest, and Cityview also has some plots with flowers.

Much of the food grown here is given to the community. Over at Morgan Ave, they had Grandmaster Flash on the stereo, but the McKinley garden had a real live band playing for a while to liven up their party. On my way back to the car, I went past a block party at the Baptist church across the street and couldn't turn down a free burger when offered. It wasn't as good as the polish sausage that sustains me in Hawthorne, but it helped me along the way to the...

# Camden Gateway Sculpture Garden at 42nd and Lyndale Ave N. This is the one of the oldest gardens that was on the tour in NoMi; the city commissioned artwork for the sculpture garden twelve years ago, and the garden has been there for the past eleven. I asked if they have ever had any problems with people messing with the sculptures, and they said not
since they installed this as a security device, click here.


Obvious parody aside, the garden gets is products from professional nurseries, and was the only garden on the tour to have no vegetables growing. There was a plum tree, and residents have made plum wine from its fruit. Other than that, the garden contains only flowers, sculptures, and volunteers. If you're interested in volunteering, contact Lisa Schnapp-Belmares at schnappl@att.net.

Me, I ran from the boulder and made my way uphill to the...

# Lind Community Garden at 51st and Dupont Ave N. This is just its second year in existence, but it looks great. The Lind-Bohanon neighborhood association tends it, and just added ten new plots this year. They have a wide assortment of vegetables grown there, such as tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, cabbage, squash, and green beans. Neighbors pay $20 per year for 1/2 a plot, and that also covers supplies and water. The garden got its start from the Jenny Lind school and Hmong elders working together and now has 35 area gardners. Only one was left, and she escorted me to my final location at the...

# Common Ground Community Garden at 52nd and Newton. This would have been tricky to find if it weren't for some help, since the area has quite a bit of road construction. This garden is unique in that it was set up as a rain garden in 1995, and then the neighbors worked with the Park board to keep it as a community garden. However, instead of vegetables or flowers, they kept natural woodland flowers, trees, and grasses. Some strawberries, gooseberries, ginger, and brussels sprouts grow here. Volunteers in the Shingle Creek neighborhood do much of the upkeep. The tree cover and natural woodland plant life really are quite impressive; you can walk just a few feet into this garden and almost instantly forget you're in the midst of a bustling (and revitalizing!) neighborhood.

Full of mint tea and neighborhood excitement, I returned in time to see the dedication of the gateway at the Jordan Area Community Garden - which WASN'T on the tour, but is located at 26th and Knox.

Special thanks go out to all the residents, neighborhood organizations, and other partners who help make NoMi beautiful!

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

What happened to the community garden on 29th and 4th? That has to be the oldest community garden.

Jordan Neighbor said...

The Historic Hawthorne Community Garden has been recently talked about on this blog - here -

http://adventuresofjohnnynorthside.blogspot.com/2009/08/save-historic-hawthorne-community.html

Perhaps it wasn't on the tour because of the ownership limbo that it is in right now.

Jeff, if you are reading this, can you give us an update?

The Mortgage Geek said...

I don't know the process for how certain gardens got on the tour itself, but I think people had to apply for participation. I'm guessing nobody from the Historic Hawthorne Community Garden applied this time around.

We're working on getting a hold harmless letter from the county so that residents can officially tend the garden, but informally that upkeep is ongoing.

The initial discussion with the county also included a desire on their part to either sell it back to the previous non-profit owner (apparently it was just an oversight that led to tax forfeiture) or get it in the hands of CPED or another development partner who can keep it as a community garden.

Thanks for the reminder that I need to nail down some details on this issue.