This article by Brenda Harvieux originally appeared in the September/October issue of Northern Gardener.
In Minneapolis, the Stevens Square Community Organization (SSCO) manages the North and South LaSalle Community Gardens, which were started in 1997 and surround The Coyle apartment building at 1801 LaSalle Avenue. “Most of the plants we receive from Minnesota Green are for common areas, plus some herbs, vegetables and annuals,” says Robert Skaffe, Stevens Square garden coordinator. “You feel like a kid in a candy store at plant donations.”
The LaSalle gardens have plots for rent, and the gardeners really make them their own with creative uses of found objects, art and structures. “I call them the gardeners’ little magical worlds,” says Robert.
The gardens have a fire pit, a half light structure, a tool shed built by women from the Shakopee Women’s Correctional Facility and plenty of places to sit and relax. “We want people to feel at home,” says Robert, “that’s why the hangout area in the LaSalle South Garden is called the ‘living room.’”
Though a developer recently bought part of the North Garden, the garden will remain. “The developer sees the gardens as an asset,” says Robert. “It was a huge relief!”
SSCO also manages the Emily Peake Memorial Garden on Third Avenue and the Overlook Garden, a native habitat that overlooks the Minneapolis skyline. “The idea is to connect Third Avenue to LaSalle to continue the greenway,” says Robert. “People respect the space more when there are gardens, and it makes the neighborhood a friendlier, more beautiful place to live.”