Orchard planted at Village on Rivoli funded by $50,000 Super Bowl grant

Volunteers from Pentair, Urban Roots and City Academy planted some 60 fruit trees May 9, creating an orchard at the Village on Rivoli housing development. The orchard was paid for with a $50,000 grant from the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee.

The first seven homes at the Village on Rivoli housing development, seen behind the garden and orchard, will go on the market later this month.


The Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee awarded Dayton’s Bluff Neighborhood Housing Services a $50,000 grant to create a long-dreamed-about orchard at the Village on Rivoli housing development.

“I guess all good things come to those who wait patiently,” said Jim Erchul, executive director of Dayton’s Bluff Neighborhood Housing.

The Super Bowl Host Committee is awarding grants across the state as a part of its 52 Weeks of Giving campaign, which focuses on projects and organizations that help to improve health and wellness of young people in Minnesota. 

At the end of February, the committee gave a $100,000 grant to St. Paul Parks and Recreation to construct sepak takraw courts at the Duluth & Case Recreation Center on the East Side, in addition to more tennis courts across the city. Sepak takraw is a traditional Southeast Asian ball game with elements similar to volleyball and soccer.

The orchard is a part of a multi-home housing development located on the western edge of the Railroad Island neighborhood, along Rivoli Street. As a part of the development, a community garden, the orchard, bike paths, solar gardens, and other amenities have been proposed to create a sort of “green village.”

The Rivoli Bluff Orchard will be managed in partnership with Urban Roots, an East Side organization that employs youth to help teach about urban gardening and healthy eating. There will also be a community garden and a few beehives on the property.

About 60 apricot, plum, and apple trees were planted May 9 during an event recognizing the donation. Volunteers from Pentair, in addition to Urban Roots and City Academy workers, planted the trees.

Urban Roots has a variety of garden plots around the East Side and the half acre at Rivoli Bluff brings its total growing space up to a whole acre.

“We’ve slowly been increasing our entrepreneurial aspects of our program to increase work opportunities for young people but also to increase the amount of food we are able to distribute,” said Summer Badawi, the market garden program manager at Urban Roots.

While it will take about three to five years before the trees bear fruit, Urban Roots already produces about 10,500 pounds of produce each growing season with its half acre of growing space.

“We’re so excited for the potential food we can grow on this new site,” Badawi said, adding Village on Rivoli will serve as a space to demonstrate urban agriculture and conservation.


Village on Rivoli project

For more than 40 years the Railroad Island Task Force, Dayton’s Bluff Housing Services and Urban Roots — known as the Center for Community Design when Village on Rivoli first was envisioned — have been working on the housing development.

The project involves constructing multi-level family homes in an area west of Rivoli Street, bordered by Phalen Boulevard to the north, Interstate 35E to the west and Lafayette Road to the south. 

The site was formerly a dump and went through years of extensive clean up. The project is funded by a variety of state, federal and local funding sources. 

The first seven homes, out of a planned 60 to 70 homes, will be put on the market at the end of this month. 

While Erchul, from Dayton’s Bluff Neighborhood Housing, said there has been a lot of buyer interest in the seven homes already built before the orchard, he said the orchard won’t hurt in attracting more buyers

“We’re not going to to have any problems selling these houses, we’ve had a lot of interested folks, but it’s certainly nice to be able to keep our word,” said Erchul, adding that homebuyers are attracted by the shared agricultural spaces.

Erchul said five more houses will be constructed this summer. Before the next phases of houses are constructed, drainage will need to finalized and more funding secured, potentially from the STAR board and the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency. 

He said it will take a few years, but the next phase will include nearly 30 houses. The final phase will include anywhere from 20 to 25 houses north of the cul-de-sac on Arkwright Street. The garden space will expand as well.

Donald Lorr, chair of the Railroad Island Task Force, said the long-awaited Village on Rivoli development, now coming to fruition, is a source of pride.

“It’s part of a promise that I think the neighborhood made to itself to uncover and show the city what a wonderful neighborhood we have,” he said.


Marjorie Otto can be reached at 651-748-7816 or at eastside@lillienews.com. Follow her on Twitter at @EastSideM_Otto.









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