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Healthy West 7th Initiative to set up a couple of community gardens

The Healthy West 7th Initiative in St. Paul is launching a couple of new community gardens in the neighborhood this spring.

The launch began as a volunteer effort from resident physicians at the local United Family Medicine clinic.

The idea is to increase nutrition in the area, according to Kate Vickery, previously a resident working on the project. The residents sought to “outline areas the clinic could work on to improve neighborhood health,”  an effort that builds on the clinic’s longstanding community volunteer work in the area.

After gathering feedback from community members through numerous focus groups, interviews, and surveys, the residents found that the area lacks access to healthy, fresh foods, and “information about how to prepare and preserve healthy food,” she says.

In fact, an existing community garden at Victoria and Jackson streets is so popular that it’s had a waiting list for several years, she says.

To expand on that, the residents teamed up with the West Seventh Community Center, Mississippi Market, St. Paul Public Library, Ramsey County Master Gardeners, Sholom Home, St. Paul Department of Public Health, and Allina Health/United Hospital.

With funding and supplies from its partners, one of the community gardens will be temporarily located at Sholom Home’s east campus, and will open this spring. In the future, Sholom could develop the land for senior apartments, she says.

As for the garden, “We’re hoping it’ll be intergenerational, with seniors working with youth,” she says.

Separately, a demonstration garden will go in at the West 7th Community Center. It’ll serve the center’s programming, Vickery says.  

In general, “We’re just trying to meet the need expressed by the neighborhood, and ultimately to improve health, but also to build relationships,” she says.

Right now, the group is preparing both garden sites for planting organic vegetables in the coming months. People can sign up to volunteer on its website.

The group is also encouraging more backyard gardens and container gardens in public places, as well as gardening classes. “We’re hoping the gardens will be an opportunity for people to come together and learn new skills and learn how to be healthier,” she says.

Source: Kate Vickery
Writer: Anna Pratt
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