Community Garden Tour to highlight Southwest green spaces

Calling all green thumbs! GardenWorks, a program created by the South Minneapolis-based Green Institute, is hosting its 2nd annual Parade of Community Gardens on Aug. 18 from 10–2 p.m. The tour will take participants by foot, bike or car across the Twin Cities, with four stops in Southwest, listed below.

LaSalle Community Garden

The 13th green patch on the tour is LaSalle Community Garden on 1729 and 1809 LaSalle Ave. The area used to be full of litter and drug dealers, but in 1997, volunteers from Stevens Square and Urban Lands — a community gardening program by the Sustainable Resource Center — got on their hands and knees and turned the land into a bed of plants and shrubs. Now, the garden — which is roughly the size of two city lots — flanks both sides of an apartment building and supports 40 gardeners. Highlights include an aqueduct and water wheel system, vegetable plots, and Zen pathways.

Eat Street Community Garden

Next to a purple-and-blue house on 2415 1st Ave. S., the Eat Street Community Garden builds community and promotes sustainable living. The patch first sprouted in 1991, sponsored by Omega House. It’s the size of a city lot, located in the heart of an urban area, two blocks from the Minneapolis Institute of Art and one block off Nicollet Avenue.

Soo Line Community Garden

Over the past 16 years, the Soo Line Community Garden (SLCG) at 2845 Garfield Ave. S. has blossomed into a hotspot for walkers, children and birdwatchers. Roughly 100 dedicated gardeners revamped the area, which used to be a grassy field strewn with broken glass, and now, the three-quarter-acre land boasts numerous plants and vegetation. Unbeknownst to SLCG members, a couple got married in the garden before becoming gardeners themselves.

Lyndale Neighborhood Rain Garden

In 2005, members of the Lyndale Neighborhood Environment Committee and residents in the area banded together to form the Lyndale Neighborhood Rain Garden on 102 32nd St. W. With funding from the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization, the 3,000-square-foot plot prevents 56,000 gallons of water from entering the stormwater system. Visitors are invited to learn about rain gardens by checking out the native plantings, low-mow grass, rain barrels and compost featured in the garden.

What is it?

“A community garden is any space where plants are grown and maintained by a community to meet the needs of that community,” explained GardenWorks West Metro Coordinator Ila Duntemann. “The mission of Garden Works is to support, promote and preserve community gardens across the Twin Cities.”

There are approximately 200 shared gardens in the metro area, used for anything from horticulture therapy to beautification. “A lot of people do it because they want to be growing their own food and culturally specific food that they can’t get other places,” said Duntemann, who participates in the Soo Line Community Garden.

Different gardens have different rules, with tasks for each member. Participants can help out for as little as a few hours each month. “A really big thing for community gardening is the community-building aspect of it,” Duntemann says.

The parade drew a large crowd last year, and Duntemann expects it will be an even bigger hit this year. The gardeners love it because not only are they able to show off their hard work, she says, but it’s a chance to recruit new helpers.

Contact Mary O’Regan at [email protected] or 436-5088.