This article originally appeared in the January/February 2020 issue of Northern Gardener.
Latino communities in the Twin Cities had not traditionally received services from the Hennepin County Master Gardener program. That’s precisely why Terry Straub and six other master gardeners reached out to Centro Tyrone Guzman, the oldest and largest multi-service Latin nonprofit in Minneapolis. What better way to cultivate confianza (trust) between Latino and Anglo gardeners than to spend a summer planting seeds, growing veggies and herbs, and making fresh salsa together?
Extension master gardener volunteers offered a full summer curriculum to help more than 60 Centro community members, ages 4 to 70, grow as gardeners. Centro youth and elders enjoyed weekly presentations on starting seeds, growing healthy vegetables, creating pollinator habitat, and learning a variety of plant names—in both English and Spanish, of course. A mix of classroom time and hands-on gardening sessions brought all ages together and sparked a lasting bond between the groups.
Beyond growing gardeners, this program has had a lasting impact on the Centro community. The summer sessions were so successful (and fun!) that Hennepin County Master Gardeners and the Centro community decided to continue gathering for gardening activities twice a week throughout the year. Two Centro Tyron Guzman staff members have now entered the master gardener program. And, Centro’s youth have been busy using homegrown ingredients to make their sought-after salsa—next time you visit a Twin Cities metro area farmers market, bring a jar home and support these budding gardeners!