Updated: Sep 20
The Children’s Gardening Program welcomes everyone ages 5-105
The beloved Aurora-St. Anthony Peace Sanctuary Garden is nestled between two homes on a small lot in the Rondo neighborhood of St. Paul. This community garden began in 2004 as the Environmental Peace Garden. Beginning in 2012, the garden became home of the multigenerational Children’s Gardening Program and is supported by the surrounding community. In 2014, the Children’s Gardening Program received an endowment from the Ramsey County Master Gardener (RCMG) Volunteer Program and this support continues today.
The Children's Gardening Program is a collaboration of the Peace Sanctuary Garden and Master Gardener volunteers. The program also partners with the Urban Farm & Garden Alliance (UFGA) in St. Paul, an alliance of community gardens and urban farms in the Rondo and Frogtown Neighborhoods. UFGA focuses on growing food and community relationships, and advocating for environmental and racial justice.
Building Relationships Through Gardening
For two months each summer, the Children’s Gardening Program welcomes ages 5-105. Others who take part each year include neighbors, grandparents, caretakers, and students who are all invested in the Rondo community and its children.
The program's goals include educating the community, building relationships, and strengthening partnerships while working to lessen the impact of environmental, racial, and food justice issues. All participants wear name tags to encourage the building of relationships. The program also seeks to support emerging leaders among the participants.
Each week, Master Gardener volunteers support the summer drop-in program by maintaining the garden and helping teach participants to be stewards and protectors of natural resources. The culturally sensitive curriculum focuses on sustainable food gardening, best environmental practices, preparing and eating the food they grow, and most importantly for the kids, having fun. The curriculum is developed by Master Gardener volunteers who have worked with this program over the years alongside nearby Rondo neighbors and leaders in the UFGA. Each week, kids “play” in the soil by planting, weeding, and eating plants they grow. Not surprisingly, the kids are very enthusiastic about preparing, cooking, and eating the garden produce! Favorites include making salsa, pickles, “salad in a jar,” and the end-of-season “garden pizza.”
Supporting a Vibrant Community Treasure
Partnerships are vital to continuing the work of the Children’s Gardening Program. In 2021, new construction in the garden was completed thanks to the UFGA and the University of Minnesota Engineers without Borders (EWB) student group. These groups met during the 2020-2021 school year to plan several garden improvements that were implemented with assistance from Ujamaa Place and Imhotep Science Academy. This exciting collaboration included a water catchment system and a permeable paver path to add accessibility. A new nine-week curriculum for the children was developed in 2021 with a grant from the Capitol Region Watershed District. The curriculum includes art and gardening science lessons that focus on topics such as wise watering and the water cycle. In addition to good land stewardship practices such as capturing water runoff, visitors to the garden will also see annual flowers, herbs, vegetables, and seating areas.
After the program was forced to go virtual for two years, due to construction programs and Covid, the community was delighted to resume normal in-person activities in the summer of 2022. RCMG volunteers are proud to contribute to this vibrant community treasure, and look forward to future gardening seasons.
For more information, visit: https://sites.google.com/view/childrensgarden/home