Community gardens may be established in some Minneapolis parks, according to a wide-ranging set of proposals that will be on the table for discussion at a public meeting this week. The urban agriculture activity plan has been in the works for a couple of years, and represents ideas for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board to consider and perhaps approve.

The city already has an estimated 192 community gardens and numerous farmers markets, but the report said there is strong demand for more. Parks could play a greater role in local food production by planting more fruit trees and nut trees, it said, and by providing land in larger parks for community gardens,  expanding organics collection at park centers, and promoting locally-grown food at park concessions and events.

The plan notes that a handful of parks offer educational programs for youth and adults about food, gardens, beekeeping and other topics, but that those efforts could be greatly expanded. Parks may also provide a home for newer farmers markets or mini-markets, it said, which need adequate vendor space, parking, access to utilities and support from nearby residents. Park staff and volunteer advisory committees have met since Nov. 2012 to formulate the activity plan and receive public feedback. 

Establishing community gardens within neighborhood parks "will build community ties, provide education, diversity program opportunities, and make more locally grown food available," the report said. Moving in that direction, the plan said, would require identifying the parks that would be eligible, and developing  consistent policies for approval, insurance, design standards, public access and community engagement.

The report noted that community gardens in parks, if established, would need to be available to all residents and park visitors rather than a system that allows private use of community property for personal gain. "For this reason, plot type gardens for rent will not be considered as a type of community garden within a new policy," the plan said.

Park commissioners will discuss the urban agriculture activity plan and hear from the public at a 6:30 p.m. meeting on Wednesday, May 21, at park headquarters, 2117 West River Road in Minneapolis.

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