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Mpls. Digging Into Urban Agriculture

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – In the summer, there’s nothing better than fresh fruits and vegetables from the garden, but a large percentage of our community simply doesn’t have access to that.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is trying to change that by growing urban agriculture.

Minneapolis is digging-in on a citywide scale. The park board just adopted a plan that, among other things, would call for planting fruits and veggies in municipal parks.

“These would be more like gardens, where it would be donated to the local food shelf or used in the community center itself,” said Liz Wielinski, the commissioner for park board district one.

This plan isn’t a wholly new idea.

For over 25 years, kids in the city have been learning about agriculture at places like J.D. River’s Children’s Garden in north Minneapolis.

Now the hope is to bring programs like that to more Minneapolis parks, and expand upon them, especially in areas where fresh fruits and vegetables are readily available.

In addition to expanding gardening and education, there’s also talk about growing beyond the idea of a traditional garden.

“We think we might plant an orchard,” Wielinski said. “But if we plant an orchard, we have to have rules on who can come and get the fruit.”

That’s because, despite a recent trend called “urban foraging,” taking food grown in Minneapolis parks is technically illegal.

“We have a molestation ordinance on food in our parks,” Wielinski said. “So if you molest our greenery, we can arrest you, and we certainly don’t want anyone picked up for picking an apple.”

This program is still in very early stages, and there is no timeline yet on when and how this would be implemented.

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