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Consulting with the Community

By Evalyn Carbrey, Regional Coordinator — SNAP-Ed

The Urban Farm and Garden Alliance (UFGA) and University of Minnesota Extension are partnering to build community and consult with residents of the Frogtown and Rondo neighborhoods in Saint Paul.

Founded in 2014, the UFGA is an alliance of eight urban and community garden in the Frogtown and Rondo neighborhoods of Saint Paul. This group meets regularly to discuss issues such as land access and land tenure, host workshops, support each other in gardening through sharing of resources, and seek out grant opportunities.

UFGA members and Zoe Hollomon, metro SNAP-Ed project coordinator

Now, Health and Nutrition staff members are supporting UFGA’s project to develop and facilitate relationships between Extension and UFGA’s existing partners. Our goal is to partner in a more equitable and participatory way with these two neighborhoods, starting by building trust. Rather than beginning to work on a specific project or towards a predetermined goal, we are ensuring that community members themselves decide what projects are undertaken and how they move forward.

The alliance is serving as a gathering space for individuals to voice their concerns and visions for the future of the Frogtown and Rondo neighborhoods. Participants in this on-going discussion include local community activists and residents; food justice advocates; external allies; university students, faculty, and staff; community development experts; and policy makers. To facilitate this participatory work, Extension has hired two community members, Melvin Giles and Megan Phinney, on a part-time basis. Melvin and Megan, in partnership with community members and Health and Nutrition staff, will be working together to determine what research projects and support would be most helpful to the neighborhoods.

We look forward to seeing what comes of this unique and dynamic process! To learn more about our partner in this project, visit the UFGA website [no longer active].
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