Tag Archives: Minnesota Council of Churches

Second Groundbreaking

From the archives: May 10, 2011 We broke ground at the second (yet to be named) community garden in District 2 this Saturday.  It was a beautiful sunny day, and many refugee families and neighbors came out to dig up the grass and turn a vacant lot into a community garden! Several of the gardeners were farmers in their home countries (including Burma, Iraq and Ethiopia), and they got their plots ready and planted in record time before helping their neighbors dig.  It was a great day to be working outside together, enjoying the spring and the promise of fresh veggies. In addition to the families, we had several great volunteers come out to help dig!  Volunteer groups came from the Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project (IARP) and a Taking Root, an interfaith refugee sponsorship program through the Minnesota Council of Churches.   The Taking Root group is sponsoring a recently … Continue reading

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A World Garden here in Minnesota: Introducing “Neighbor Garden”

From the archives: May 9, 2011 It was a cold day to be gardening (in the lower 30s) but we are happy to report that eight families came out to dig their garden plots! At one point as we all were digging our plots it lightly started to snow! We joked with the families that only in MN would people garden when it is snowing. During the day, families worked together to shovel, dig, and rake out their own garden plots as well as their neighbors. Young and old alike came out for the day, and in the end we had about twenty people working in the garden. We first started out by measuring and marking out our plot sizes. Families either picked 10ft x 22ft or 5ft x 10ft plot sizes for this growing year. Later in the day we also distributed vegetable and herb seeds to the families, … Continue reading

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Plot Picking: Our Latest Garden Meeting

From the archives: April 11, 2011 The room was full at our second garden meeting! We met at Omoto’s apartment, one of the residents who attended our last meeting. This time we had five different families who were originally from many different countries. We had residents from Ethiopia, Sudan, Burma, and America all at the meeting. Also two family members attended to help with translation for Karen and Amharic speakers. At the opening of the meeting, we ask everyone what their favorite vegetable or crop to grow was and the answers were: green peppers, tomatoes, grapes, mangoes, watergrass, and corn.  Unfortunately, a few of the residents won’t be able to grow everything they wanted, like mangoes, due to Minnesota’s weather and climate, but we assured them that many crops do well in this area! After general introductions we briefly talked about ground rules for the garden and any general questions the residents had … Continue reading

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Garden Update

From the archives: April 25, 2011 A lot has been happening with the gardens lately! We recently learned that the owner of the apartment complex at Birmingham and Burns has decided to put it up for sale.   We don’t know when it will sell or if the property management company will change, which has made it hard to plan the garden.   Right now, we are waiting to find out what is happening with the sale, and trying to connect the interested families with other gardening options.    World Relief Minnesota, another refugee resettlement agency, is working to connect Karen families with community gardens at churches. Now, the good news!  We are working with the District Two Community Council on a new community garden for both refugee families and neighbors.   The garden is located on a piece of vacant land right next to an apartment complex where many refugee families live.   The … Continue reading

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Why community gardens?

From the archives: March 15, 2011 As part of a project last year, we interviewed many community gardeners (including Law Paw from the Fresh Start garden!) about why they are part of community gardens and what it means to them.   Here is what some of the immigrant and refugee gardeners we spoke with had to say: “In Kenya, I had a 16 acre farm… this is my first year gardening in the United States, at the community garden.  It is very good.  I am getting fresh vegetables from my garden that have been organically grown, without any chemicals…And of course, it is exercise for me too.  It helps me to keep my body functioning well” – Sam, Kenya “I share my garden with my grandchildren… we grow everything on our own, so there are no chemicals.  Everything is organic, and it’s clean and healthier for your body, especially for little kids.  Kids … Continue reading

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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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