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TWIN CITIES HIDDEN GEMS: URBAN OASES

See how these three green spaces are bringing together communities in neighborhoods around the Twin Cities

By Claire Noack

Blending buildings and natural spaces together can be tricky business, but the Twin Cities have mastered this delicate balance perfectly. Whether you are in residential or metropolitan areas, there’s always a park or lake nearby to be enjoyed. Community groups have formed around the Twin Cities to ensure that our urban areas remain green. Check out these three projects that are improving our industrial spaces.

Pedro Park Urban Flower Field
Brightening up downtown St. Paul, the Pedro Park Urban Flower Field made its debut in 2014 as a temporary art installation. Saint Paul Parks and Recreation, Public Art Saint Paul and countless volunteers transformed the vacant lot at the corner of Robert and Tenth Streets into a local gathering space. The park is set for future development and will possibly use the current Public Safety Annex as a community room when the tenants vacate the space later this year.

For now, we get to enjoy the beautiful combination of art and science that inspired the Urban Flower Field. The green space is designed in a spiral shape to mimic the Fibonacci Sequence, a scientific pattern that is also apparent in nature, and includes 96 circular flower plots that hold wildflowers that are part of an experiment by local researchers to test how the flowers remove heavy metals from urban soil. Tables and chairs are dispersed around the park and the spiral design is echoed in a four-story mural on the adjacent building.

The project won a Blooming St. Paul award from Saint Paul Parks and Recreation and a Great Places Award from the Sensible Land Use Coalition, and is a brilliant example of how people can come together to create a thriving urban space.

Frogtown Farm
In 2013, a community-led initiative secured 13 acres of green space to enrich the soil and the neighborhood of Frogtown, St. Paul. Frogtown Farm has grown into one of the largest urban farms in the country. Working in collaboration with the City of St. Paul, the Trust for Public Land and the Wilder Foundation, the space operates as a public park and recreation space and an urban demonstration farm.

Frogtown Farm has infused the diverse community with creativity and common ground to play, learn and garden. The certified-organic farm cultivates everything from vegetables, native plants, edible berry bushes and more. Classes and events educate the neighborhood on planting techniques, permaculture practices and how to get your hands dirty by volunteering in the garden.

Vera’s Garden
Vera’s Garden is one of many community gardens that have sprung up along the Midtown Greenway bicycle trail. Cyclists and pedestrians are wowed every spring and summer by the number of plants, trees and green spaces that line the 5.6-mile route. Vera’s Garden makes its mark on the northern part of the greenway with its memorable sloping garden beds.

Volunteers have kept the garden blooming since the early 2000s. Ramps lead to the garden from the street level on Lyndale Avenue and passersby are encouraged to take a stroll among the flowers and relax on benches. The beautiful garden is a shining example of cooperation, community involvement and pride for our local green spaces.

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