Tag Archives: community gardens

Planting Seeds, Part 2

From the archives: March 7, 2011 Last Monday, we had our first garden meeting at the other apartment complex in East St. Paul. This time the group was a bit smaller with two dedicated residents joining us: Omoto and Ruth, both speakers of Amharic and originally from Ethiopia. During the meeting Omoto, who has lived here for ten months, told us that the ecology and farming in Ethiopia is much different from here in the United States. He explained that when he lived in Ethiopia, much of the farming is done completely by hand and often on a much smaller scale. Also he explained that due to the warmer climate and the very fertile soil, people can grow and harvest crops three times a year! Imagine trying to do that here with Minnesota’s harsh winters. Other topics discussed at the meeting included what types of foods the residents wanted to … Continue reading

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Planting Seeds

From the archives: February 18, 2011 We had our first community garden meeting this week!  Four Karen and Karenni refugees attended the meeting, and we spent an hour getting to know each other and talking about the garden.   We will meet again next month, and everyone is going to talk to their friends and neighbors about joining the new garden! Law Paw, a gardener from Rolling Hills, volunteered to be our translator.  Thank you, Law Paw!  She shared some stories from the Rolling Hills garden and talked about her experiences gardening in Minnesota.  Everyone who came to the meeting has experience farming or gardening, but no one has gardened in Minnesota before.  One of the families moved here 9 months ago, and everyone else came here more recently.  We were all excited to talk about spring and growing a garden after a long, cold winter! For me, one of the … Continue reading

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Growing from Refugee to Community: A New Year for Gardens

From the archives: February 7, 2011 Last year the MN Council of Churches Refugee Services piloted a refugee community gardening project with eighteen Karen refugee families originally from Burma. The garden, located at the Rolling Hills apartment complex in St. Paul, was a huge success. Law Paw, one of leading women involved in the garden exclaimed, “The garden gives us fun, it gives us a community, it gives us a relationship with others.” This year the MN Council of Churches is excited to announce that we will be working with two new apartment complexes where refugees are living to start gardens. The new gardens will be located at Birmingham Street and at Case Ave in East St. Paul. These two new gardens will serve recent refugees from Somalia, Burma, Iraq, and Bhutan. Community Gardens are important to refugee families as they transition from refugee camps to becoming full community members … Continue reading

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Calling all Kids! Photos from our Scarecrow and Sign-Making Day

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Planting Seeds for a New Future: Our Seed Planting Day

From the archives: June 14, 2011 On May 23th, the Gardeners and I gathered for our seed planting day. The day was beautiful….full of sun and warmth. A perfect day to gather in the garden! The eight families who came out planted onions, sweet potatoes, tomatoes as well as cucumber, corn, squash, and many other kinds of seeds. Ruth, one of our gardeners, brought out a sweet potato that she had already started in her own home and had some black eye peas to plant in her garden. We were also joined by volunteers from Redeemer Lutheran Church in White Bear Lake, MN. The volunteers were a part of “Live Out Love Day,” a day when congregations go out into the community to participate in different service projects. The volunteers who joined us donated all the materials to build a great fence to surround our new garden. We are very grateful … Continue reading

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The Church Has Left the Building

A stray ball bounced into the garden, flattening a young tomato plant.  Rabbits nibbled plant leaves until they resembled paper origami snowflakes.  Kids ran through the garden plots, compacting the soil.  Adults picked ripe vegetables without permission and dropped trash along the aisles. These predicaments, which are familiar to many inner-city vegetable growers, were creating problems at Fresh Start Garden. This was the first year the space at Rolling Hills Apartments was used for gardening; formerly, it was used as an informal soccer field for kids and picnic spot for tenants.  Fresh Start Garden did not have a fence to protect the space and encourage respect for the plants and vegetables. In June, the garden leaders told Liz Mason from Minnesota Council of Churches (MCC) about the issues and asked for a fence they could install around the garden perimeter. Mason got in touch with Redeemer Lutheran Church of White … Continue reading

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It’s Their Garden

From the Archives– August, 2010 ST. PAUL, MN – “How did the Fresh Start Garden get started?” That was the question I recently asked Liz Mason, VISTA Leader, from the Minnesota Council of Churches (MCC). We met mid-morning in the garden and were admiring the swelling orange squash and climbing bean shoots that were putting a chokehold on neighboring plants. “Well, it didn’t take much,” Mason replied. According to Mason, it all began with an offhand remark from the property manager at Rolling Hills, who mentioned that they were open to a vegetable garden at the apartments. It was a golden opportunity for Mason, who was then working closely with landlords as a Housing Resource Developer. She knew that a garden would enrich the housing experience for her refugee clients living at Rolling Hills, many of whom are Karen refugees from Burma. According to the Center for Applied Linguistics, over … Continue reading

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Fresh Start

Garden Post from the Archives: July 21, 2010 ST. PAUL, MN “The garden is good,” said Law Paw. “The garden gives us fun, it gives us a community, it gives us a relationship with others.”   Paw is one of 15 Karen refugee women who began growing vegetables this summer in her ‘own backyard’ at Rolling Hills Apartment complex. The garden is a project of the Minnesota Council of Churches (MCC), a refugee resettlement agency based in Minneapolis, who has teamed up with Rolling Hills property management to create a new vegetable garden for residents. Due to her English speaking ability, Paw has emerged as a garden leader and liaison with MCC and Rolling Hills property management. “Before the garden, I never think we have an opportunity to plant (in America),” said Paw. Law Paw is a leader at Fresh Start Garden. The gardeners, mostly Karen refugees from Burma, have … Continue reading

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A beautiful garden shed

The Flandrau Refugee Community Garden got a great surprise recently – a beautiful, home-made tool shed! Previously, we had been storing tools in a closet in one of the apartment buildings, so the gardeners were all thrilled to have an easier, more accessible place to store their garden tools and hose. A men’s ministry group from the SW Minnesota Synod of the ELCA build the shed for the garden as part of the synod assembly on June 10. Thank you for all your hard work!

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Community Garden Fundraiser

From the archives: April 11, 2011 THANK YOU to everyone who came out to the community fundraiser for the Refugee Community Garden Project last night at Pizza Luce St. Paul!  We (and all the gardeners) really appreciate your support.  We don’t know how we did yet, but many friends came out to enjoy delicious pizza with us! We are very grateful to Pizza Luce for holding this fundraiser!

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