Did you ever think something as common as fall pumpkins would be a bright, blinking neon sign of an inner city decaying neighborhood pulling itself out of unhealthy dysfunction and crawling towards a vibrant, well-rounded, diversified community?
Well, when you stumble upon a rustic fall pumpkin and harvest store on Lowry Avenue, complete with twinkling lights, handmade winter mittens and dogwood twig topiaries you can't help but jump for joy at an unexpected indication of the revitalization we all strive to bring forth around here.
Sometimes life in NoMi feels like two steps forward.... one step back. One step forward...two steps back.
Win the fight of closing an inconvenience store.
A teen is shot and killed outside a house party.
Gayborhood of the Year.
Another sex offender moves in down the block.
A victory against mortgage fraud.
Two thugs clash and one ends up dead. And then a year later his family incites a riot at his memorial.
A new, classy cafe and a darling gift shoppe right next to it.
A tornado tears across the northside multiplying the blight times a zillion.
You get the idea.
But every once in a while the universe throws us those little indications that our community is changing for the good of everyone, including the folks who have less of everything, material as well as immaterial. Diluting the ills of inner city living with the good things brought on by folks who are law abiding, educated and determined to restore their home, their community and restore more wholesome values block by block.
It's a sign that our community is placing more emphasis on these healthy recreational past times and less emphasis on unhealthy past times like glorifying materialism with chrome spinning rims and little miniature motorcycles that serve no purpose except to entertain adults who are under the influence and annoy the living crap out of the neighbor who is trying to enjoy their summer garden.
For the past few weekends, on the corner of Lowry and Vincent, Nomi Homies have been able to get their pumpkins, gourds, squash, potatoes, corn stalks, straw bales and more from a charming seasonal business run by the property owner Eric Hansen. Eric and his brother have owned the piece of property for the past 14 years, previously operating their Hansen Bros Fence Company from that site. Since then they have relocated that business and have offered this piece of property up for sale, but no agreeable sale has come through for them.
Eric grew up here on the northside and his wife still works within walking distance of his pumpkin harvest stand, at North Memorial. He wants to see the community progress forward and he had the desire to bring something to this market that isn't already here, that would be found elsewhere, like 50th and France, for a much higher price. But he wants to provide it here at a more than reasonable price for all to enjoy. He said "Why shouldn't north Minneapolis have a pumpkin stand?"
Pumpkins of all shapes and sizes are available starting at $1 for pie pumpkins, $2 for "misfits" (with odd shapes, blemishes or other mishaps of mother nature), $3 for small carving pumpkins and $5 for large carving pumpkins. The Hansens come from a farming family. The nephews grow and haul in the pumpkins. The brothers-in-law brought in locally grown russet potatoes. Goregeous, bright potatoes, 20 for $2. Seriously? Cub can't beat this potato deal.
Eric's neighbor makes handmade wool winter mittens and gloves. Recycled wool, fleece inserts. She sells them at hockey arenas all around the state. She sent a huge bag full with Eric for his harvest store.
Other seasonal and outdoor decor available includes corn stalks, straw bales, decorative gourds, dogwood twig topiaries with intertwined twinkle lights, ornamental wrought iron, and bundles of cedar planks (left over scraps from his fence company, I LOVE the reuse mentality of this guy!). Eric says not only are the cedar planks great for fires obviously, but his wife soaks them in water, rubs some oil on them and grills or broils her fish dinners - yum!
Northside company, By The Barrel has some last remaining planters, compost barrels and rain barrels available.
Here's what got me the most excited when I finally had a chance to stop and chat with Eric today: he's hoping to make enough money from the pumpkin harvest stand to do a seasonal Christmas tree stand later in November and December. And then... if that goes well, and the property doesn't sell, he's thinking of doing a farm and garden nursery at that site. Hello?? Progress?? Is that you knocking on our door?? Please! COME IN! I INSIST!!!
But here's the deal, he's only doing the pumpkin thing one more weekend. ONE MORE WEEKEND FOLKS! Get your bee-hind there today (Sunday, October 23 8a-5p) or next Saturday and Sunday (10/29 and 30 8a-5p) and buy, buy, buy! Eric says everything is for sale! You see something you like, make an offer. Throw some money at him! Tell him you want a Christmas tree stand, with piped in holiday music and hot chocolate and cider. A fire pit burning off in the corner. Spruce tops and garland for the outside planters and window boxes. Big red ribbon bows to deck the halls! Walk down Lowry and have some lunch at Tootie's or Lowry Cafe. Go holiday gift shopping at The Goddess of Glass and Northend Hardware. Get your baking ingredients from Aldi and then return to the next day to get a hardcore workout at Doc's Gym.
Seriously people, this is progress! Let's capitalize on it and push it forward! Go spend money there on Saturday October 29 and Sunday October 30. And say Hi to Eric for me.
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