This summer, a group of students from
Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC)
transformed an empty lot downtown into an urban farm.
A number of students who were interested in gardening started up the MCTC Urban Farm Collective
, which is extracurricular, according to Katherine Kragtorp, the group’s advisor.
Although it’s tough to find a spot to garden downtown, the student group, which has 11 core members, connected with Brian Short, a private landowner. He let them use a vacant lot alongside Gethsemane Episcopal Church
for the urban farm.
The students began working the land earlier in the summer, putting in long hours and even expanding Gethsemane’s small garden nearby. “It really was mind-boggling what these students did, coming together, wanting to make this work,” she says.
Today, the greenspace is divided into a community garden and a separate area for six-foot-by-six-foot individual plots. It also has a butterfly-shaped sensory garden that’s filled with herbs and a children’s section.
In the community garden, which has all kinds of fruits and vegetables, including squash, carrots, beets, pumpkins, raspberries, tomatoes, beans, and more, “The goal is to raise food and get fresh produce to those experiencing food insecurity,” she says. “They want to make it part of the community.”
The students are working with the church to provide fresh produce to its weekly food shelf. Already, the group has donated more than 500 pounds of food to the food shelf.
Even passersby have gotten involved. “What’s neat about this is that it’s a point where the community can come together and make connections with [people from] all different backgrounds,” she says.
Soon, the urban farm collective hopes to set up “hoop houses,” or miniature greenhouses, in the garden, to extend the growing season, she adds.
Source: Katherine Kragtorp, MCTC’s Urban Farm Collective
Writer: Anna Pratt