A call from Channel 9 to Michael Chaney got everything going Sunday April 13, 2014. By 3:00 pm in the afternoon more than a dozen youth in Project Sweetie Pie orange teeshirts were joined by about 50 neighbors and passer-byers wanting to know what was going on at 1600 Plymouth Av North . . .
The work accomplished at 42 degrees was inspiring and a good time was had by all. The youth were rewarded with pizza while the neighbors talked about gardening, food, and worked together to build a wonderful spot.
Clemon Dabney III, Horticulturalist and Buckman Fellow from the University of Minnesota is helping Ms. Nothandu, President of the Black Storyteller’s Alliance and manager of the Karamu garden. For years Mr. Vusumuzi and Ms. Nothando Zulu have shouldered much of the organizing for this communal garden.
The Black Storyteller’s Karamu Gardens was formed in 2011 in response to a challenge by Homegrown Minneapolis, the city’s local food program, to encourage neighborhoods to come together to grow their own food. The Black Storytellers and several other community partners worked with Legacy Management, the owner of the next door apartment building with a vacant lot next door to create a communal garden at 1600 Plymouth Avenue North. Ms. Nothando has also been an active member of the Food Council, and a coalition with the Women’s Environmental Institute and EJAM (Environmental Justice Advocates of Minnesota).
A communal garden is different than a community garden because no one person has a growing plot. All that work in the garden have access to the food, in addition the garden produce is available to the people who live in the Legacy Housing, the neighborhood and with the local food bank.
In the fall of 2013, the Karamu Garden partnered with Project Sweetie Pie to expand Karamu and make it a Northside Town Commons. The plans include food justice programs with multiple food-producing gardens in Minneapolis and hands on growing opportunities for the community. In January 2014, the Karamu Garden was one of 5 national recipients of the GRO1000 community garden grant awarded by Scott’s through the U.S. Conference of Mayors. This three year, $40,000 grant will provide funds for raised beds, a shade stage/tool shed and programs for local youth and their families.
This location allows Karamu Gardens to involve many other community members currently living in the Prestige Apartments. Because the Karamu Gardens offer a highly visible location on a busy artery in North Minneapolis, the location will also provide visual beauty to the neighborhood. Since early March more than 60 people have met each week at UROC to plan the garden, and to extend the design down Plymouth Ave N. Neighbors want to see a walking track with tiny vegetable gardens from Mickey’s Liquor store on Plymouth Ave N and Emerson up to Northpoint, Urban League and UROC at Plymouth Ave N and Penn Ave N. This .7 miles will be used by walking groups, athletes and others this summer during a walk-it-off campaign.