Mayo Clinic Center for Health Equity and Community Engagement Research
Hosted by the Village and Mayo Clinic, this collaboration brings local health professionals into our largest community garden space to both provide education and learn from our community. These discussions promote conversations to help our community identify health problems and learn about local resources. In addition, the health professionals are able to hear specific concerns coming from cultural groups.
Our 2021 series featured:
June - Topic: Nutrition and Cancer Prevention | Guest Speaker: Dr. Shafii Mohamed (Mayo Clinic Community Internal Medicine)
July - Topic: Depression and Mood Disorders | Guest Speakers: Drs Nicolas Nunez and Manuel Gardea Resendez (Mayo Clinic Psychiatry) and Josh Jensen (Zumbro Valley Health Services)
August - Topic: Addiction and Substance Abuse | Guest Speakers: Kendra Henry and Greg Jerdon (Zumbro Valley Health Services)
University of Minnesota - Rochester
Community Collaboration Course
UMR students are required to take a community collaboration course as a part of their education. While a few faculty have already served the Village by contributing as founding members and writing our founding grant, they have continued to build a strong partnership by creating a learning model which brings students into the community garden spaces year round. UMR students build and tend their own garden, as well as provide volunteer services toward building community spaces, maintaining pathways, and assisting with Summer of Service youth projects.
This Co-Lab cohort also provides an abundance of fresh produce to their campus food pantry. The campus makes an effort to promote these foods, as well as sharing special ways to prepare the food and help all students improve their diet. UMR focuses on educating a diverse student body, and the connection with the Village and our farmers embodies the representation of many global cultures and their agricultural traditions.
Rochester Community Education - Summer of Service
Summer of Service is a service based summer program for youth entering grades 5-12. During the 2021 season, over 600 local youth visited our community garden spaces. Through support from UMR students and faculty, the Village and these youth collaborated on a variety of projects:
Fencing and learning about pest management
Building bee boxes and learning about pollinators
Constructing and painting raised beds for farmer use
Planting pollinator beds and mulching community areas
The participants were surveyed and stated that they enjoyed seeing foods from around the world and learning about different ways that they are consumed. They also witnessed different agricultural practices and shared their own histories with growing food. Learning about pollinators, pests, and cultivation was of great interest to many students. We look forward to our 2022 collaboration.
Master Gardeners of Olmsted County - UMN Extension
Several MGOC members have made significant contributions to the Village, by providing connection to continuing education, recruiting Village members to become Master Gardeners, and supporting efforts to build and maintain composting systems. They have been an inclusice and welcome addition to our efforts, additionally providing educational signage in 6 different languages and posting throughout our spaces.
Our 2021 education series focused on weed management, regenerative agricultural practices, occultation, water-wise strategies, and maintaining compost. They provided significant support to our Alternative Learning Center (ALC) Garden and the Green Thumb Initiative, which provided product to the ALC for cooking courses. During the pandemic, this grew into a collaboration with Rochester Public Library, who then donated excess produce to the community through the BookMobile, which is a mobile library service during summer months.
Rochester Community Initiative
Serving as local social justice youth group, RCI approached the Village in Spring 2021, looking for both a garden space and a place to host meetings. Due to the pandemic, they were looking for an inclusive outdoor space to meet, where all members would feel comfortable and safe. Our community areas provided just that, and also introduced over 40 local high school youth to urban agriculture.
RCI jointly tended a 20x15 plot and grew chilis, tomatoes, green beans, herb varieties, eggplant and more. They shared this produce within their organization and with other youth that came to the garden for their meetings. We hope to work together to build more formal education opportunities around urban agriculture and environmental justice initiatives.
Community Composting Initiative
Initiated by Plant a Seed's Kelly Ray Kirkpatrick and the Green Thumb Initiative, this community collaboration diverted over 25,000 gallons of coffee grounds from landfills and into community and private garden spaces. Through a SignUp Genius site, collaborators elect to pick up coffee grounds in five gallon pails from several local coffee shops, with the Village bringing 30+ gallons per week to our community garden sites.
An initiative begun in 2015 by former nonprofit, Growing Home, the community continues to rally around the goal of composting more of our food waste. Further collaboration continues with Mayo High School's Environmental Club and several interested community partners. Our director will attend the ReFED Food Waste Summit in May 2022, and plans to tour at least three compost processing plants during the summer, working toward a plan of scaling up compost in 2023, with a goal to someday sell to our community.