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Growing the Arts-Us Gardens

Updated: Aug 8, 2023


Master Gardeners support Arts-Us Center for the African Diaspora

Ride the bike path through Dunning Park in Saint Paul and you'll find a lovely little garden nestled behind the playground. Along with native and pollinator-friendly plants, there is a diverse array of crops such as okra, callaloo, collards, sorghum, and fish-eyed peas. The garden is part of the Arts-Us Center for the African Diaspora and it features vegetables from African and African-American cooking traditions. Ramsey County Master Gardener volunteers have been supporting these gardens for several years, planting and maintaining the garden beds, teaching classes to community members, and coaching high school garden interns.

This summer, new and returning Master Gardener volunteers living in that area participate in weekly garden care events at the park to support plant growth during the hot, dry weather and remove weeds before they become a problem. In additional garden care, Master Gardener volunteers Nate G. and Jamie A. are making the garden a classroom as part of the five-week Camp Teranga summer camp through the Arts-Us program. University of MN nutritionist, Christine Navarro engages the camp participants in nutrition activities to show how the produce grown in the Arts-Us garden can be used in the food they eat.

Park visitors regularly comment on how much they enjoy the gardens. Recognizing its value to the neighborhood, the Union Park District Council has graciously approved a grant that participating Master Gardener volunteers helped write. The funding supports the expansion of native plant gardens and the installation of informative signage. Volunteers hope that, in addition to teaching community members about traditional foods they can grow here in Minnesota, park visitors can discover native plants that they can cultivate in their own home gardens to help support the local wildlife, like the Rusty-patch bumble bee.

Karen R

Master Gardener Volunteer

Ramsey County

Encourage access to plants and green spaces for health and wellbeing by working with community groups to co-create projects


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