Introducing: A New Open Arms Garden in West Seventh Neighborhood

Posted on 11.8.12

In 2013, Open Arms will be adding a new garden space to our farm lineup!

Open Farms launched in 2010, when a few volunteers and staff began preparing two acres of farm land for planting. Our goal was to grow as much food for the Open Arms kitchen as possible and to provide another way for Open Arms volunteers to participate in our work.

Since then, it has developed into a fully working farm located on three acres of farmland in Belle Plaine and a small urban garden space in Minneapolis. In three years, we have engaged nearly 1,000 volunteers and 40 groups and community partners, and produced some 35,000 pounds of fresh, organic vegetables for the Open Arms kitchen.

Next year, we will expand again, with a ¼-acre urban plot in the West Seventh neighborhood of St. Paul, where we will be able to grow up to 3,000 pounds of vegetable crops.

A generous family has hosted a local farming operation in the space, essentially their backyard, since 2009. “Open Arms helped us care for a terminally ill family member,” says garden donor Paula Faughender. “Knowing that our loved one had good food to eat allowed us to focus on other care needs. We’re so happy for the chance to give back by partnering with Open Farms and are looking forward to our ‘back yard’ being used to help others.” For the 2013 growing season, they have donated the space to Open Arms, and we plan to use it to produce more healthy and nutritious food for the Open Arms kitchen to use in our client’s meals.

In order to make that possible, we are looking for up to five community partners to “adopt” the garden and take full responsibility for all aspects of production, including planting, tending, harvesting, cleaning and delivering the fresh produce to our kitchen. Open Arms will provide seeds, supplies, and infrastructure maintenance (water, tools, fertility, and other farm-related supplies) for the project as well as an intern and gardening expertise to ensure your success.

While the garden is not yet certified organic, we will be working toward organic certification — a three year process — and so will ask our garden partners to follow the National Organic Program (NOP) guidelines with the help of Open Farms Director Ben Penner. Organic gardening utilizes techniques such as crop rotation and natural biodiversity and biological processes to produce a healthy and abundant crop year after year.

This is a great opportunity for a community or corporate group, family or a group of friends to learn about organic crop production principles in a hands-on environment while providing a critical service in our community, fulfilling the Open Arms mission of ensuring that people who are ill have access to delicious, fresh and nourishing food. If you are interested, please contact Farm Director Ben Penner.

We hope to see you at the farm!

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