Public Garden Contest Winner: Gethsemane Garden

This article about the public garden winner in the MSHS Great Gardening Contest 2021 originally appeared in the November/December 2021 issue of Northern Gardener.

The “gateway” entrance to downtown Minneapolis was once a littered eyesore. But a team of local gardeners had a different vision, transforming this highly visible corner into 22 private garden plots and a community Giving Garden, full of flowers, herbs and vegetables. Now, this land produces 1,000 pounds of fresh produce each season, all donated to Shelf of Hope Food Pantry in Minneapolis.

garden surrounded by skyscrapers

In the shadow of downtown, this public garden produces a half ton of food a year.

Gardener Kristin Fair describes Gethsemane Community Garden as “a labor of love in a part of the city that has seen its share of hardship and neglect.” Tended primarily by residents of downtown Minneapolis, the patches produce okra, basil, thyme, lilies, daisies and plenty of coneflowers and cosmos for pollinators.

“Not a day goes by without passersby stopping to enjoy and remark on the garden’s bounty and beauty,” she says. A swinging gate invites anyone to wander in and grab a ripe cucumber or pepper for snacking or dinner that night.

“We’re also working on creating signs that will show when veggies are ready to harvest, for those in the community who aren’t familiar with gardening practices,” Kristin says. Dry soil surrounded by hot concrete and strong wind tunnels between buildings are just some of the challenges facing an urban garden, but with regular watering, mulch and care, the gardens burst with blooms and produce in the heart of downtown Minneapolis.

You can follow this exciting community gardening project on Instagram at @gcgarden_mpls.

cucumbers on table

Cucumbers ready to go to a local food shelf.

The Great Gardening Contest is an annual event, sponsored by MSHS, for gardeners to share photos of their gardens, whether they are community spaces, container gardens or home gardens. The project began in 2020 when the Minnesota State Fair was canceled and continued in 2021. Thanks to all the participants!

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