I joined the Summer of Solutions because I needed an excuse to stay in the Twin Cities for the summer, instead of at home in Kansas, and I wanted to have something to do in case jobs didn’t work out (and they haven’t! ☹). After thinking more about it, though, I realized how much I actually wanted and needed to learn about the Green Movement and environmentalism and sustainability. I’ve supported the movement for some time now, but I didn’t really know the issues or the arguments. Since starting the summer, I’ve met some really great people and noticed that just my involvement and participation in the program has, in itself, been a big step for me, taking me outside of my comfort zone, and I know it will really help me to pursue things in the future that I might normally have shied away from.
I’ve really embraced the Good Neighbor Gardens sector of the Twin Cities program, working to install vegetable gardens on private plots throughout the community, allowing the owner of the yard to keep many of the vegetables and herbs for their own use and donating some to a local food shelf. After some initial setbacks, we’ve refocused Good Neighbor Gardens 2009 to be a summer of self- and group-education, to become experts in urban agriculture to really be able to sell our vision in summers to come. We have two different donation plots, one in St. Paul and one in Minneapolis, in which the owners basically had extra space in their yards and are allowing us to use that space for free. We just planted another garden in St. Paul at the Rezek House, a part of Lutheran Social Services, which houses twelve 16-21 year olds. The Rezek House will actually be using the food that grows in their garden, which is really exciting for us to see! The other two gardens can be a bit more experimental, but it’s so cool to know that the plants that will grow (hopefully!) in the Rezek garden will be feeding the actual people that live there! We planted some seeds and transplanted some seedlings and things are starting to grow.
I have been involved in the labor of all three of the gardens, but now that they’re in, I have so much more to learn. I hope to learn all the benefits of growing your own food and urban farming, to hopefully be able to spread my knowledge to my friends and family and to know that I’m working on an issue that I feel passionately about. As a group we have talked about doing some general research on gardening, possibly compiling a sort of reference booklet for future participants and clients, inviting speakers to our meetings, and going on field trips to visit local groups like ours! This should really be an amazing summer and an awesome continuation during the school year — below are a few pictures of the gardens we have started and some of our participants…more pictures to come later!