GRO1000 Grant Brings Sense of Community to St. Paul
Our commitment to create 1,000 community gardens.
Strengthening economic and community ties, the Healthy Neighborhood, Fresh Food Initiative developed by Sparc brought a sense of vitality and development to St. Paul.
A three acre farm was built on a previously vacant land, where 13 entrepreneurs, speaking five languages, began or expanded their market vegetable business and received technical assistance in business planning. The farm also helped two of the 13 farmers secure contracts with Bon Apetit, a college food service provider, to whom they provided wholesale produce and were able to secure an income. To expand within the local community, farmers on the land hosted a twice-weekly farmers market that was open to 300 low-income customers; the farmers market also received certification to allow low-income mothers to receive produce free of charge.
In addition to the economic liveliness that emerged, the local community became involved as volunteers made contributions at the sites demonstration garden. The Mayor of St. Paul, Chris Coleman, and City Council member Lee Helgen spoke at the gardens grand opening and worked alongside the garden growers. In order to instill a sense of empowerment and community ownership, the gardens organizers later developed a relationship with the Association for the Advancement of Hmong Women, which will help Sparc continue to develop immigrant, refugee and Asian-American leadership.