Community garden razed, but will return

By Winston Heckt, Staff Writer

Along with the construction of the Hagfors Center and the Augsburg University rebrand, another change is happening on campus: A redesign of the community garden. Augsburg students and faculty may have noticed the abrupt demolition of the old community garden that occurred a few weeks ago, and already the concrete foundations for the redesign are in place. This change is part of the campus Master Plan which recognizes the garden as a key asset to the University.

Allyson Green, Director of the Campus Kitchen which is in charge of the community garden, explained the redesign as “a perfect opportunity to make this garden something that’s going to be here forever, that we’re committed to.” Key elements of the redesign include giving the garden an updated, modern look while maintaining a space for the gardeners to express their creativity. Reactions to the redesign of the community garden are mixed. “Gardeners themselves have opinions everywhere from ‘This is the worst thing ever, and you’ve destroyed the garden’ to ‘This is so exciting and beautiful, and I’m so excited to get into this new space’ and everywhere in between.”

“A lot of folks on campus will see the nice, new, straight lines and say, ‘That is beautiful, and that’s what a garden should look like,’ and others will say, ‘That’s so sterile; a garden should look wild and more natural and creative,’ so we’re hoping with this new design we can showcase both of those ideas,” Green said. It will have pathways, it will look cleaner, but inside the individual beds, gardeners will still be able to be as creative as they want to showcase what a garden can actually look like.”

Augsburg student Nell Gehrke, whose favorite place on campus is the community garden, said, “So much of the old garden was wild and organic in the sense that it was always changing. People used sticks and old metal fencing and repurposed construction fencing in their gardens. The gardeners are professionals at recycling and repurposing items, and it’s part of what makes the garden beautiful. I’m afraid that the garden will become too sterile and will no longer be the green escape that people need.” However, Gehrke was quick to point out, “The community garden definitely had its downfalls. The plots varied in size and shape, the pathways were narrow and difficult for wheelbarrow maneuvering, and that means the garden was not accessible to wheelchairs either. So the garden definitely needed improvements.”

Another change to note is a decrease in the number of available plots in the garden: from 70 down to 63. The redesigned garden is set to reopen in May of 2018, and with seven fewer plots, demand will be high. The community garden is open to Augsburg students, staff and faculty as well as members of the Cedar-Riverside community. Allyson Green says it best as, “[The community garden] is a campus community space, so it’s not just for Augsburg, it’s not just for Cedar-Riverside folks; it’s a place where we can all come together, learn from each other and with each other, grow food together, be in conversation with each other, enjoy green space and I think it’s an opportunity to think radically about how higher education institutions use the land that they own. It’s an opportunity for us to embrace the space and make it what we all want it to be collectively.” Applications for plots will be available online through the Campus Kitchen website in March and April 2018.

This article first appeared in the Friday, December 1, 2017, Edition of The Echo.