A Place to Grow

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Many years ago a group of Lyndale Youth Farmers and Minneapolis Public Housing residents came together to save a plot of land at Horn Towers from redevelopment. Youth Farm, the residents, and the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority came to an agreement to save the plot of land as a shared community garden. Half of the plots would be for residents of the Towers and the other half would be for Youth Farm, together with a tool shed and an apple orchard.

Biking south down Blaisdell the CHT Farm is a burst of green after Lake St parking lots and Metro Transit’s bus garage. Community gardeners have lovingly tended the plots, experimenting with growing cherry trees and straw bale gardening. Some gardeners focus on growing one or two speciality plants they can’t easily find nearby, but are important in their cuisine. Some gardeners try to fit everything that can grow under the sun into their 3′ by 30′ plot.

Across from the gardeners grows our soil and produce. This late in the season many of the beds are covered with oats and field peas, replenishing our soil for next year. Elsewhere we grow one last burst of fall crops: turnips, kale, beets, and butternut squash.

Over time our participants and staff have developed relationships with gardeners from the Towers. We share growing tips, recipes, and overflowing crops. We know that we care for each others spaces, even if we don’t dig in a shovel or hoe. By being present and sharing space, we create a haven for our young people and our produce.

Thank you to all the gardeners at Horn Towers and to the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority!

17 Responses to A Place to Grow

  1. David Brant October 6, 2014 at 4:23 pm #

    I remember working with Ramnarine Hanoman, a Guyanese man who lived in what was then Horn Towers to build the first community garden (now a youth farm) across the street from Charles Horn Terrace at 3112 Pillsbury I believe it was. He grew Kalalu, a spinach like plant and cleared weeds with his machete. Ram and others from the Towers are part of the rich history and diversity of the neighborhood and Youth Farm. We also had early leadership from Harry Jensen from the Lyndale Neighborhood Development Corporation who helped us get our first Youth Farm site at 3110 Pillsbury. There was once a dilapidated house standing there and we got it demolished and cleaned up the area. The Minneapolis Community Development Agency (MCDA) which is now called CPED had mistakenly planted grass seed on the empty lot after excavating the foundation and dumping soil. We battled the grass for years there. Emilio Bettaglio and Jan Brewer from MCDA were also early leaders who helped us secure the space at the Towers which was our first major expansion beyond 3110 Pillsbury. Harry Jensen was a big help here too. Harry passed away a few years ago, but I will always remember the help he provided. The helping hands of the community continue to till the rich ground in the neighborhood. I am grateful for all the good times I had helping it to grow. David Brant, former Youth Farm co-founder with Karen Lehman

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