For immediate release Media Contact: Barb DeGroot, 952-443-1459
Chanhassen, MN (Aug. 9, 2011) - Tomato plants on a chain-link fence? Wildflowers on pavement? Fresh-picked produce at the inner-city table?
The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum's Urban Garden Youth Employment (UGYE) Program has been leaving its mark on the Twin Cities for 20 years - and counting. The outreach educational program started as a humble garden in a concrete neighborhood and now offers seven employment programs that arm inner-city youth (ages 12-18) with life skills and horticultural know-how.
Using gardening as an arena for youth empowerment, UGYE participants are trained in planting, selling, investigating, harvesting, photographing, orchestrating, team-building, public speaking, and community development. Here's a quick overview of URYE programs:
- CityFresh Veggies: These groups grow produce at the U of M St. Paul campus and local gardens to sell to local restaurants. They also market to local businesses and other outlets.
- Community Green: Participants research area nonprofits, create presentations on indoor air pollution and distribute indoor plants to increase air quality.
- Garden Explorers: This group networks with other urban gardens, brainstorms new ideas for the Arboretum and creates a presentation on their findings.
- Garden Products: Over the course of the summer, Garden Products designs a garden food product, creates a unique brand, and partners with a Twin Cities manufacturer. This summer, they partnered with Izzy's Ice Cream and created "Ba-Ba-Ba-Basil Ice Cream" - now available for sale at Birchwood Cafe, Spoonriver and the Arboretum Restaurant!
- Glendale Community Education: This group creates garden-related programs for the Glendale area, a low-income housing community.
- Growing for Good: These "guerrilla gardeners" have planted tomato plants along fences and container-gardens in public areas. Any community member can pick produce from these gardens at any time at no cost.
- Oak Park Garden: In response to the tornado-stricken areas of North Minneapolis, the Oak Park Garden team grows food to relieve some of the hunger affecting the area.
"The UGYE program is winding down after a successful summer and already looking ahead to new projects and challenges in the year ahead," said Tim Kenny, Arboretum director of education.
The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, the largest public garden in the Upper Midwest and a premier northern arboretum, is part of the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences at the University of Minnesota. It is a community and national resource for horticultural and environmental information, research, and public education. It is located nine miles west of I-494 on Highway 5 in Chanhassen. Open 363 days a year; admission is $9 adults; free for ages 15 and younger and always free for members.