Bring an Urban Garden to Loring Park!
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Urban gardens provide a means by which community members can become more invested in their neighborhood, make connections with their neighbors and reap the physical and mental health benefits of constructive outdoor activity and easy availability of fresh-picked produce. Urban gardens, though increasingly popular, can suffer from a lack of available space and ready volunteers. The Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) Urban Farm Collective proposes to overcome these obstacles by supporting a new urban garden in Loring Park.
Over the course of three growing seasons, the Urban Farm Collective, a student club at MCTC, managed a flourishing fruit and vegetable garden on their campus. With an operating budget of between $300 and $500 per year for seeds and supplies and the efforts of a core group of committed student volunteers, the group was able to grow, harvest, and distribute for free to MCTC students over 1000 lbs. of produce per year. For the students, it was a way to learn how to grow and manage an urban garden, a place to relax and connect with their fellow students and, for some, their only access to fresh, organically-grown produce. The garden was also appreciated by the surrounding community as an attractive and peaceful space and even received an Exceptional Garden Award in 2015 from the Minneapolis Garden Awards program.
Unexpectedly, the land on which the MCTC Student Garden resides was on was recently put up for sale and the student group is now looking for a more permanent place to continue urban gardening near the MCTC campus.
The MCTC Urban Farm Collective proposes to offer their experience, energy, and labor to help maintain a new urban garden in nearby Loring Park that could serve not only MCTC students, but the Loring Park community at large. Preliminary discussions with the Friends of Loring Park Board have resulted in identification of a currently underutilized area that already has available fencing and irrigation. The Urban Farm Collective will donate materials from their current garden, including sturdy and attractive planters and irrigation controls. Management of the plots will be shared between the Urban Farm Collective and the Friends of Loring Park with both local community members and MCTC students working to plant, grow and harvest fresh fruits and vegetables.
Adding an urban garden in Loring Park aligns with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation mission and vision statements1 by creating places where community members could experience and participate in urban gardening, encouraging greater connection with the land and healthier eating patterns as well as a place to connect and work with other community members. Creating a new source for locally-grown produce supports both the Minneapolis Climate Action Plan2 as well as the Minneapolis Urban Agriculture Policy Plan.3 An urban garden would also increase utilization of Loring Park, fostering greater commitment and connection to the park and surrounding community for local residents and MCTC students as well as increasing pedestrian traffic, benefitting local businesses.
1. "Mission, Vision & Values." Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. Accessed April 12, 2017. https://www.minneapolisparks.org/about_us/mission_vision__values/
2. “Minneapolis Climate Action Plan.” City of Minneapolis. Accessed April 12, 2017. http://www.minneapolismn.gov/sustainability/climate-actiongoals/climate-action-plan
3. “Minneapolis Urban Agriculture Policy Plan.” City of Minneapolis. Accessed April 12, 2017. http://www.minneapolismn.gov/cped/planning/cped_urban_ag_plan
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