Written by Charise Canales, LCC intern
The Longfellow Community Council (LCC) and Volunteers of America (VOA) have joined forces in order to more successfully reintegrate the residents from the VOA Residential Reentry Center on Lake Street into the community. Harvest Moon Backyard Farmers, Minnehaha Community Lutheran Church, and Gandhi Mahal Restaurant are also helping with the project.
Funded by a $10,000 grant from the University of Minnesota’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs, this partnership provides VOARRC residents the opportunity to learn about urban gardening and cooking so they can develop marketable job skills and become engaged in the Longfellow community.
Under the leadership of Krista Leraas from Harvest Moon Backyard Farmers, the residents set up a garden plot at the Minnehaha Community Garden. We had our first session on May 25th, and will continue to meet every Tuesday and Friday for 90 minutes. Each week, they are assigned reading in their textbook “How to Grow More Vegetables: And Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains and Other Crops Than You Ever Thought Possible on Less Land Than You Can Imagine,” which explains gardening techniques. We started off with weeding, loosening up the soil, and fertilizing the garden plot. At our most recent session, we began planting a variety of veggies like tomatoes, peppers, beans, leeks, onions, and more!
Our goal is to eventually harvest the plants, get cooking lessons from the owner of Gandhi Mahal Restaurant, and then host community dinners at the Minnehaha Communion Lutheran Church. When Krista asked the VOA guys what they planned to do with the excess food not used for the community dinners, they suggested donating most of it– one resident mentioned that for him, he just loved being able to get out and interact with people. So stop on by the Minnehaha Community Garden on the block between 31st and 32nd Street; we’re the big plot at the back!