Cultivating Community in Roseville, MN

 

Seeds of Hope Community Garden is entering its 9th summer here in Roseville, MN. The garden started in the summer of 2009, when North Como Church (renamed New Life Church) received a grant from Presbyterian USA that included funding for a community outreach program. The church decided that they would like to create a community garden on their property with this funding, and an internal committee was formed to identify needs and possible solutions for this to happen.

With the grant, we erected fencing, contracted a landscape designer, negotiated with neighbors, and broke ground in a few summers of intensive, sod-busting labor to create what today is a 32 plot, all volunteer-driven garden. Housed on the southeast corner of the church property, it includes 4 raised bed gardens reserved for people with challenged mobility, and two plots for the Church to grow and donate fresh veggies to local food-shelves such as Keystone Community Services throughout the summer.

A charter was established for the garden, to ensure a diverse mix of gardener populations had equal access to this resource. This is comprised of ⅓ church community, ⅓ immigrant populations, and ⅓ surrounding community members. Today, a leadership committee of all volunteers (comprised of both church members and other gardeners) manage business aspects of the garden, and church staff serves as a hub for communication. Our garden community comes from all walks of life, with people ranging from the ages of 24 – 75.

We strive for and encourage all gardeners to know one another by name. To better accomplish this, we organize monthly “cleanup days” as a designated time that gardeners can come and work alongside each other in their respective plots and attend a workshop lead by a U of M graduate student, resident master gardener, or a knowledgeable greater community member like the Como Community Seed Library. In addition, at the end of each growing season we arrange a gardener potluck to celebrate the harvest, discuss tips and exchange recipes. We feel that everyone gains and learns so much by these interactions and we experience so much joy when we see them taking place.

As of 2017, we received an Urban Agriculture Grant from Ramsey County and plan to use the money to construct a more permanent fence around the garden, build a tool shed, and have watering and tool instructions translated into the spoken languages of our immigrant garden residents.

We have learned a lot together in the past 9 years. We have learned that Roseville, surprisingly,  is a bustling centre for all forms of wildlife including cunning deer and their fawns, rabbits, moles, and mice. We have learned a lot about how to attract and maintain native pollinators and natural insect enemies to our garden and enjoyed the buzzing bees in our space together.  We also realized that certain vegetable crops, like potato and squash, facilitate recurring populations of pest insects and have agreed to ban those food plants for everyone’s benefit. We have spent many years of testing and correcting our soil quality by adding compost by the truckload.

We have much more to learn together, but love doing so in unison and gaining everyone’s input and ideas before moving forward on long term plans. We hope to continue to grow together as we enter our 2018 gardening season and provide a safe place to be and grow food with an engaged community for all of our members.

For more information about Seeds of Hope Community Garden visit us on Facebook or at our website: http://www.newlifechurchroseville.org/garden

We host a monthly short workshop in the garden that is always open to the public so feel free to join us!

 

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