COMMUNITY GARDEN RE-DEDICATION ON 8/22

On Saturday, August 22nd, at 4 p.m., the Jordan Area Community Council and the Pohlad Foundation will hold a re-dedication ceremony and celebration at the Jordan Community Garden at 26th and Knox.  A new archway will be installed as well as seating in the garden area.  Click here to download the flyer:  SPEAK poster.

The community garden represents a significant part of Jordan’s history in reclaiming the streets from drugs and prostitution.  26th and Knox was well known throughout the city as a place where anyone could buy drugs fast and easy.  Neighbors lived with fear, anxiety and inconvenience as drug dealers had no qualms about standing in the middle of the street and blocking traffic to connect with friends or customers.

That began to change when… JACC purchased the rental property that was on that corner and had it demolished.  They used part of their Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) funds, and it was not cheap.  When the lot was cleaned up, JACC turned it over to the city to add to their inventory of lots available for development.  But as crime worsened, another idea emerged:  take back the corner by creating a community garden on that lot.  A community garden would beautify a part of the community that was infamous for crime, and it would mean a larger presence of community members as people worked in the garden.  Drug deals don’t go down quite as fast when residents are watching and calling 9-1-1.

And so the community garden was born.  The city agreed to JACC/Jordan’s use of the land, and a lot of people got involved.  It wasn’t all easy.  One community member was shot with a BB gun.  Another was threatened by a child with a handgun.  Crime doesn’t give way easily.  But the efforts were a balm to the troubled area.  It wasn’t unusual for people driving down 26th to shout out thanks to those at work in the garden.

As development pressures increased during the real estate boom, residents began to fear that the city might sell the lot for re-development.  The garden had come to symbolize the neighborhood’s fight against crime and, more importantly, it’s success in reducing crime in the area.  JACC approached the city about buying the land back so residents could be assured that the garden would remain.  After some lengthy negotiations, JACC purchased the land that it had given to the city for $1 with the agreement that if it ever ceases to be a community garden, the land reverts back to the city.

The garden has had its good years and its not-so-good years.  Flowers flourished but then were overtaken, to some extent, by parnips which had been planted but never harvested.  A few  years ago, a makeover was staged, and hundreds of pounds of parsnips were dug up and removed (and were very tasty for those of us who took a bunch home for eating!).  In recent years, as crime decreased significantly, especially after the demolition of The Big Stop, interest in the garden also waned.  It was still appreciated, but it was harder to find volunteers to keep it tidy.  For one year, it was turned over to local Hmong gardeners who grew many interesting things to eat as well as tended the flowers that remained.

Then this year, Tree Trust and the Pohlad Foundation offered to do a major makeover.  The re-dedication is the culmination of those efforts.  Jordan residents helped with the work, but the money came from the Pohlad Foundation and Tree Trust who provided many of the plantings that now grace the garden.  The new archway was created by the Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center, the same group that furnished the new bench in Cottage Park.  Here is a little more information about them from the comment that reminded me of the group’s name:

Just wanted to let you know that the name of the organization that made the Cottage Park Bench last year and the Jordan Community Garden is the Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center.

We are located in south Minneapolis (on Chicago Avenue, of course) and are a non-profit arts organization that works with art forms involving heat, spark, and flame.

Last year’s bench and this year’s gate are designed and created by kids from the neighborhoods, aged 8-17. They’ve done some great work — we hope to see everyone there on the 22nd!

For those of us who have wandered the garden and appreciated its abundance of plants over the years (the picture at the top of this blog is a small slice of a picture of the community garden taken several years ago), it may look a little sparse right now, but it looked sparse when we started before.  With the new archway and the new seating, the garden will be a place where people can walk, sit and enjoy once again the beauty that this corner of the Jordan neighborhood offers.

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One Response

  1. Hi Dottie,

    Just wanted to let you know that the name of the organization that made the Cottage Park Bench last year and the Jordan Community Garden is the Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center.

    We are located in south Minneapolis (on Chicago Avenue, of course) and are a non-profit arts organization that works with art forms involving heat, spark, and flame.

    Last year’s bench and this year’s gate are designed and created by kids from the neighborhoods, aged 8-17. They’ve done some great work — we hope to see everyone there on the 22nd!

    Thanks!
    Maren Christenson
    Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center

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