Local community garden wins Beautification Award


The Green Pride Garden, located at the corner of Greenbrier Street and Lawson Avenue, recently won the Beautification Award from the Sustainable St. Paul Awards. The garden is managed by resident Regina Ripple. Marjorie Otto/Review

When Regina Ripple decided to turn an empty lot into a community garden, she said she never in a million years thought she’d win an award for it. But that’s just what happened. “I was really surprised,” laughed Ripple. Marjorie Otto/Review

When Regina Ripple decided to turn an empty lot into a community garden, she said she never in a million years thought she’d win an award for it. 

But that’s just what happened. 

“I was really surprised,” laughed Ripple.

Ripple is the resident coordinator of a community garden located at the corner of Greenbrier Street and Lawson Avenue. The plot, named the Green Pride Garden, recently won the Beautification Award from the Sustainable St. Paul Awards. 

Sustainable St. Paul recognizes community members and organizations for “making a commitment to creating a more sustainable St. Paul.”

The garden is one of many community gardens in the Payne-Phalen neighborhood.

Ripple has been organizing and plotting the garden for about four years now. It started when a home on the lot was foreclosed on, abandoned and later demolished. The neighborhood was seeing a lot of vacant lots at the time and trying to find ways to beautify the empty land.

At the time of the garden’s creation, Ripple was a board member for the East Side Neighborhood Development Company.

“Here’s another empty lot — what do we do?” Ripple said of the garden’s creation. “I suggested we make a community garden and they thought it would be a pretty good idea.”

ESNDC paid for the lot’s soil to be tested.

Once the all clear was given that the soil was safe, Ripple busied herself with dividing it into 12 garden plots for neighbors to rent. 

“It was really simplistic, just with strings and sticks in the ground,” said Ripple.

Over time it changed. Ripple said she adjusted, taking some plots to make flower beds and herb gardens. 

The Payne-Phalen Community Council pays for an annual membership with Minnesota Green, a community garden program through the Minnesota State Horticultural Society. Through the membership, greenhouses donate leftover plants at the end of spring, which are shared with community gardens.

Through the membership, Ripple has received perennial flowers to plant in the garden, which return each year with little fuss.

She’s also had neighbors donate lumber to add permanent borders to the plots, which has helped control the weeds.

“The problem I was having was that when people weren’t weeding their plots, the weeds would just spill over,” Ripple said. 

Neighbors also created and donated benches to be placed throughout the garden.

“There was no money invested in this garden,” said Ripple, explaining it came together from donations of time and resources from neighbors and organizations.

This past winter, Ripple said she read about the Sustainable St. Paul Garden Awards and decided to nominate the garden. 

“I didn’t expect any return,” she said, but was pleasantly surprised when the garden won the Beautification Award.

“Every year it’s a little different depending on what plants I get but I think it’s an enjoyment,” Ripple said, adding she loves being able to look out her window and see a beautiful garden, rather than a vacant lot. 

“I think it’s an asset to this community.”

For those interested in a plot, there are seven available to rent. Contact the Payne-Phalen Community Council office in the early spring at 651-774-5234 to reserve one.

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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