Last spring, a task force from the
Union Park District Council
in St. Paul started scouting out places for a new community garden.
A workshop with the local nonprofit organization Gardening Matters
helped to get the project going, according to landscape architect Jeff Zeitler, who serves on the task force.
Finding open land was a challenge in the well-developed neighborhood, but the group has settled on a spot near Interstate 94 and the intersection of Prior and Gilbert avenues. To set up the Prior/Gilbert Community Garden at this location, the council is working out a lease agreement with the city’s public works office, he says.
It would be mutually beneficial in that “We maintain the space and they [Public Works] don’t have to, and we get to grow food there,” he says.
One reason the community started looking for potential garden space was that the existing Eleanor Graham Community Garden, which has a long waitlist, will be closed temporarily next year during the reconstruction of a nearby city bridge.
In 2014, both gardens will be in play. “There’s a big demand for community garden space,” Zeitler says. “It’s really something to see.”
This spring, Prior/Gilbert will start out with 42 plots. The garden includes different-size parcels and individual and community areas. It has a phased implementation plan, which means it’ll start out with only the bare-bones necessities, according to Zeitler.
Getting water to the garden is the most expensive task, while donations are still needed for a shed, tiller, fencing, fruit trees, and more, he says.
Zeitler hopes the neighborhood’s gardeners will be able to start digging in the dirt by the end of April.
The rewards go beyond local food production. “It’s a community center in some ways. [In the garden] people talk and meet their neighbors. It brings people together,” he says.
Source: Jeff Zeitler, volunteer, Union Park District Council
Writer: Anna Pratt