Residents gather to work in, tour community gardens

Elizabeth Cook

Volunteers were in the Southeast Como neighborhood Saturday morning to clean up corner gardens in preparation for the first annual Parade of Community Gardens tour through Minneapolis that will take place Saturday.

Susanne Maeder, a Southeast resident who helped start the garden in fall 1992, worked in the garden at 22nd Avenue Southeast and Como Avenue that morning.

Maeder said the area used to be all crab grass with two bars taking up the other corners until residents started transplanting flowers from their own gardens to the patch of land.

Now there is support from the Southeast Como Improvement Association, with a community gardener on staff and nurseries that donate their own supplies, making the gardens stand out in the neighborhood.

Currently, with the train bridge construction along Como taking up part of the garden, there aren’t as many people wandering through the curving woodchip paths or relaxing on one of the tree stumps set up like chairs.

Maeder is hopeful that

with the Parade of Gardens, more people will realize it’s not a construction site – even though it’s surrounded by orange and white striped roadblocks and machinery – but a place to relax and take in nature.

“We’re trying to give people an awareness of how many little places there are,” Maeder said.

Christopher Duba, a custodian for the University and a Como resident, said he’s seen the garden but never has seen anyone actually admiring it.

“I think it’s like a bus stop,” he said. “I don’t even know if anyone hangs there.”

Farther down the street at 15th Avenue Southeast and Como Avenue Southeast sits the Accord Community Garden, which got its name from the wind chime sculpture it sits in front of.

Vilma Stragyte, a sociology senior, said she’s never noticed the smaller corner garden next to a bus stop and at the edge of Van Cleve Park with the small yellow geraniums, bluestem grass and blazing stars.

“I wouldn’t consider it a garden,” she said.

Even though this isn’t a

garden in her eyes, she said she likes that volunteers are trying to make things more aesthetically pleasing for residents.

“It totally brings up the mood,” she said.

Rosanne Gronseth, a Master Gardener for the University Extension Service, Hennepin County said the gardens create a better atmosphere in the community.

“I think that it just enhances the quality of life,” she said.

Gronseth said the floral decorations also increase

surrounding property values and develop a sense of community.

The last stop on the garden tour will be the Gateway Garden, at the corner of 12th Avenue Southeast and Hennepin Avenue East.

Sam Benson, a resident

for two years in the neighborhood, said he thinks it’s “awesome” that volunteers are putting time into gardens for everyone.

“It’s something that’s the opposite of ugly to look at,” he said.

Benson said if he had more time, it’s something he would help take care of, or at least look at more.

“I’ve wanted to just go

down there and sit before, but I really haven’t had the time,” he said.