Posted on 05 October 2008 by

A Store’s Urban Garden

By Cindy Naas

I was shopping in the Crocus Hill district of St. Paul Minnesota this week.

I stopped in at the Cooks Of Crocus Hill store, and discovered an absolutely stunning urban garden, right in the middle of an upscale shopping area!

Needless to say, I had to stop in and talk to the owner.

The landscaping around this store is a series of raised beds in which all manner of vegetables, herbs and even fruits are grown. Herbs are tucked into edges of walkways and into planters.

Visual interest is maintained by growing scarlet runner beans up twig wigwams, and grapes twine along the fence which separates this store from the adjacent property. There are benches around the edges of this delightful garden, and on the hot afternoon I visited, three old men were resting on a bench eating freshly picked grapes.

The employee in charge of this garden had a few moments to spare, and was happy to tell me about the history of the garden. Cooks is very committed to buying local food and produce, and planting a veggie garden was a way to really bring that to the attention of their customers.

They also began holding cooking classes, and providing their students with the opportunity to pick fresh herbs and veggies really appealed to the store owner. He also wanted to create a sense of community around his store, and adding the benches for passers-by was the final touch to attracting people to sit and visit in the store garden.

Cooks also provides co-op opportunities for students who work in their garden. The Community Design Center of Minnesota, a non-profit agency which provides gardening opportunities for youth, send two co-op volunteers to work in the garden all summer long. These students plant, tend and even harvest the Cooks garden.

This is a wonderful example of just how much urban gardening can transform communities and lives.

3 Responses to “A Store’s Urban Garden”

  1. Shibaguyz Says:

    Hurray for urban gardeners! This is a great example being set by one company. Thank you for sharing this with us… there is some hope out there.

  2. Mark Stapleton Says:

    Great story about a lovely store that I go into periodically.

  3. Cindy Says:

    Shibaguyz, people like you are driving the urban farming movement. As long as there are urban gardeners like you guys there will be reason to hope!

    The best part of the garden at Cooks is the community involvement. On one of the days I was there, people wandered through the garden tasting and smelling, sitting in the shade and eating grapes fresh from the vine. Publicity like that for urban gardening will be far more convincing than anything you or I can say to those who are not yet gardening.

    Thanks for stopping by!

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