Even though they are surrounded by busy city streets and apartment buildings, fresh vegetables and fruits are only a few steps away for Pakou Yang and Pahoua Vue. Yang and Vue grow onions, tomatoes, peppers, beans and cilantro in the USDA’s community garden at the Common Bond Communities Torre De San Miguel Homes in St. Paul, Minnesota
USDA officials dedicated the garden during a morning ceremony under the warm summer sun on a Friday last month. Several gardeners and community organizations also were recognized for their work in making the garden an overwhelming success.
“It’s nice to have this where we live,” Yang said. “We enjoy it.”
The site was plowed and prepared back in October of 2010 and now features 15 plots surrounded by a fence and overflowing with bright green fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s the ideal setup for residents who used to try and grow small gardens outside their apartment doors and windows.
“We organized the residents and decided to make a People’s Garden,” said Caseye Pofahl, Youth Program Coordinator for Common Bond Communities, the largest provider of affordable housing in the Midwest. “People continue to become more aware of it. We have kids asking questions and other people realizing that they have an opportunity to grow their own food.”
The garden was a collaborative effort among the USDA, Common Bond Communities and the West Side Citizens Organization. It’s a collaborative effort that uses a variety of methods to maintain the land, benefit the community and create a sustainable source for healthy foods.
“It helps build a vibrant community,” said Don Baloun, State Conservationist for the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Minnesota. “Everyone at the USDA is proud of this project.”
It’s obvious by the looks on the faces of Yang and Vue that they are proud too.
“We’ve worked hard on the garden,” Vue said. “It’s worth it.”