About three years ago, residents of the Eastview neighborhood in St. Paul went to the District 1 Community Council wanting assistance with public safety and activity development at local parks. The city no longer used Eastview Recreation Center and there was no upkeep of the landscaping. “It was a spot to loiter for troubled youth, but with the installation of gardens, it has become more welcoming and so much more energized in a positive way,” says Betsy Leach, the executive director for the District 1 Community Council and one of the community organizers.
People from the neighborhood wanted to make the place they lived more appealing: community members, including some avid gardeners, helped plan gardening projects and made connections to resources for plants, such as Minnesota Green.
With the help of Minnesota Green and generous community members, this group has beautified the grounds of Eastview Park and the recreation center as well as Conway Park where they also have a community vegetable garden. Produce grown in the District 1 Community Council plot is donated to the Block Nurse Program, which helps seniors and shut-ins stay in their homes by delivering food and care. If that program can’t use the vegetables, they are donated to a new food shelf coordinated by a local church.
“The community gardens have allowed us to make connections with people who are spread out over the district, and then connect them to one another,” says Betsy. “If we weren’t members of Minnesota Green, we couldn’t do any of this,” says Betsy.
For more information, visit www.district1council.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared in the November/December issue of Northern Gardener.