This article by Maria Brosofske originally appeared in the September/October issue of Northern Gardener.
SLP Seeds founder Julie Rappaport began planting the seeds for educational urban farming and community food equity in St. Louis Park more than seven years ago.
As part of its mission, SLP Seeds manages eight community gardening sites including gardens at Oak Park Village apartments, Lenox Community Center, local fire stations and community parks. The focus of the gardens varies—some are playground gardens where SLP Seeds interns work with neighborhood youth, others grow food for local food shelves and the group’s cooking programs. Seeds and plants from MSHS Garden in a Box and Minnesota Green programs are used in all of the gardens, which are tended by SLP Seeds adult volunteers and youth interns under the leadership of Ariel Steinman, director of operations.
The organizations also offers internships, cooking classes, volunteer opportunities and community meals. One community program is a weekly Lunch and Learn held at the Oak Park Village apartments for youth and their families. The weekly meetings with lessons on cooking and nutrition have “changed the dynamics in our community greatly,” says Laura Nygren, a volunteer and resident of Oak Park Village.
These creative and committed advocates of food justice hope to have more impact in their community in the future with an all-seasons greenhouse. They are living up to what the letters in the second part of their name stand for: Safe, Edible, Earth, Diverse and Service.