One of the main attractions of urban living is the indelible sense of belonging to a community. Whether you call a modern condominium, townhouse or apartment home, the likelihood that you know a few neighbors and are recognized in the local store are the very things that make city life so appealing to so many. Gentrification of old warehouse districts, and the construction of new, hip condos have changed the urban landscape of much of the US, and breathed new life into old run-down parts of our post-industrial environment.
But in many urban areas, large-scale construction has now ground to a halt in the wake of the economic crunch, and large open lots lay unoccupied among the new construction and refurbished mills and factories. So, what becomes of such sites? Surely no new condo and apartment owner wishes to gaze out from their upscale balconies only to be met with the sight of large ungainly, undeveloped eyesores below. These unused areas often become overgrown with weeds, and strewn with pizza boxes and all manner of unsightly detritus. In an attempt to avoid such unwanted blemishes, many inner city regions such as Minneapolis are handing over these plots to the neighborhood in order to provide and encourage sustainable community gardens.
The City of Minneapolis, as part of its Homegrown Minneapolis initiative is making a dozen large plots available for qualifying organizations to develop long-term allotments where local residents can grow food, plant flowers and generally create a refreshing green space in the heart of their community. The Community Garden Pilot Program not only helps promote healthy living and nutrition awareness but also creates a hub in the core of urban communities where neighbors can interact and build strong relationships. The city is already home to some 100 community gardens, and these 12 new lots will be available for lease to non-profit groups who can demonstrate a plan of action, and are willing to oversee ongoing maintenance and take out liability insurance for the site. First-time gardening groups are eligible for one-year leases, while established organizations can apply for longer leases of three-to-five years.
The hugely successful Community Garden Pilot Program was started in 2010, when 18 lots were first made available. Homegrown Minneapolis aims not only make neighborhoods more attractive thorough the implementation of community gardens, but also to to provide a sustainable, healthy food supply. With significant production, the sale of locally produced fruit and vegetables through neighborhood stores can help local economies, and raise awareness of the value of healthy food.
So, now many Minneapolis condominium buyers and owners can look forward to taking pleasure in the knowledge that the tasty food on their table was grown in their own backyard. And the good news is that the City has deemed these new sites to be unsuitable for future construction, ensuring their long-term security as community-based urban gardens for generations to come.
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