Sharon Lehrman listed the vegetables she wants to grow on her plot in the Birchwood Garden, which finally reopened this weekend after more than two years of inactivity.
It's a little late in the growing season for tomatoes and peppers, she figured. Garlic, squash, kale and even sweet corn might fare better.
"Working in a garden is very therapeutic," said Lehrman, a dietitian who lives in St. Louis Park's Birchwood neighborhood. "It's good for your mental health."
The neighborhood's community garden, once feared left for dead, was brought back by the Thai Buddhist Center of Minnesota, which owns the property and made an agreement with the city last week to reopen the area for gardeners.
It was last used in 2014, after the disbanding of a Lutheran congregation that had been based on the 4-acre property.
The Minneapolis Area Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America got the land and informed residents they could no longer grow produce there. Weeds and wildflowers soon filled the garden's 24 plots.
Several developers expressed an interest in erecting apartments on the property, St. Louis Park City Council Member Sue Sanger said. She encouraged the council to reject those proposals.
Whoever took over the property needed to be "compatible with the neighborhood and respectful," Sanger said. "That included the retention of the community garden."
The Thai Buddhist Center bought the property in January for its new temple.
Tracy Schultz, the center's program coordinator, said the leadership was always interested in reviving the garden. But they first needed to find out where visiting monks would live.
"That was part of the hesitance of entering into an agreement," Schultz said. "We just wanted to make sure there was viable space to build a house for the monks that didn't interfere with the gardens."
The city and Buddhist Center reached a three-year agreement June 5. The next day crews began to remove weeds, till the soil and mark individual plots.
Lehrman, who acts as a garden liaison between the neighborhood and city, is calling the outcome a "happy ending."
"This is something that we've been hoping for ever since the church closed," she said. "So many people have gotten interested in gardening in probably the last five years."
A dozen people are signed up to grow produce on the land, most of them occupants of the previous garden, said Jim Vaughan, the city's natural resources coordinator. He expects any open slots to go fast.
One plot is reserved at no cost for the Buddhist temple. That means the monks will be getting their hands dirty — with some reservations.
"They can perform certain gardening tasks, but Thai monks have a lot of rules to abide by," Schultz said. For instance, he said, "they can plant things, but they can't harvest because they can't kill any living thing."
With the return of the Birchwood Garden, there are now five public gardens in St. Louis Park.
"It really does create a sense of community," Lehrman said. "There's just something really renewing about playing in the dirt."