Project for Pride in Living (PPL) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering low-income people to become self-reliant—from housing rehab to education and job training to community enrichment. “When redeveloping the Hawthorne neighborhood in north Minneapolis, we wanted a green focus,” says project manager Josh Tolkan.
Hawthorne EcoVillage consists of four city blocks where PPL has rehabbed and built houses and installed a community garden on 2 lots where houses no longer stood. Originally, the garden was an AmeriCorps project for Josh in 2011; now other community gardeners take more active roles, including Dana Kuehn, who gardens, helps pick up plants from Minnesota Green and has taught people how to start seeds. STEP-UP paid part-time interns help in the communal garden and a raised bed box for vegetables that are delivered to neighbors who can’t garden.
Neighborhood residents grow plants in the raised bed garden box section for their families, and they help maintain the communal area too; the produce grown is used for their harvest parties and donations. “People get really excited about cooking ideas they get from our harvest parties,” says Josh. “Basil pesto, grilled pizzas with garden vegetables, quick pickles, and Dana’s iced teas and water infusions have all been hits.” There’s also a strawberry patch, grape vines, black raspberries, a rain garden and native plantings.
“We get such a big variety of plants from Minnesota Green—community gardeners get excited about interesting and unusual plants,” says Josh. “90% of everything that grows in the garden is from the program; it’s been crucial for us to get plants from Minnesota Green.”