Turning Parking Lots into Farms in Minneapolis and Vertical Gardening
My Blog Is Returning Shortly.
Stefan Meyer of Growing Lots, turns vacant Minneapolis parking lots into urban farms - a welcome addition to my little neighborhood.
The last time I came back from Iowa for work, I was riding the Hiawatha light rail from the Mall of America where I was dropped off. While sitting on the train, I was reflecting on how great Minneapolis is after spending a long week in Ames stuck in a hotel room. This thought was cemented further as I took a different path than I normally do from the Franklin LRT station to my house. What I stumbled upon was a parking lot filled with wire structures with plants growing in them. I stood in amazement for a few minutes taking it all in. However, sadly, I forgot the name of the operation as to look it up when I got home.
A few weeks later, via the Seward E-Democracy list, I discovered it was called "Growing Lots" - a project lead up by local urban farmer Stefan Meyer (aka "Farmer Stefan) and supported by Seward Redesign. Rather than covering the pavement with soil, Stefan created low cost "planters" using rolled wire fencing lined with hay to hold in the soil. The whole structure costs less than $2 each and supports many plants for such a small footprint. Growing Lots provides produce for local restaurants and also offers CSA shares. If you think this is a grand idea, I highly recommend patronizing it.
I have been thinking a lot about how to grow plants in non-traditional manners - especially to save space and water. This was initially spurred after learning on the History Channel about NASA's growing of vegetables in space based on George Washington Carver's work involving vertical mesh drip situations. However, after seeing Tomás Saraceno's Lighter than Air exhibit at the Walker a few years ago, I started thinking about how to do it all in a beautiful manner. I would like to eventually move my garden into my front yard, but obviously a patch of open dirt doesn't have the most curb appeal. However, at the same time, vegetable plants can be very decorative later in the season. A lot of my ideas for structures were based on Saraceno'a grass covered floating orbs, however the biggest mental hurdle for me was how to keep the soil in a wire mesh structure. I think as Stefan demonstrated, lining the structure with hay is the solution. Perhaps, I will get these designed this fall yet to implement for next spring. Wish me luck... and check out Growing Lots.
- Growing Lots Urban Farm Official Site
- Chris Bohnhoff's photo collection of his visit to Growing Lots
- Tomás Saraceno's "Lighter than Air" at the Walker - See the Flying Garden piece in the photos
- Vertical Gardening - An interesting collection of topics on the future of gardening in the growing shortage of space.
- Star Tribune Writeup on Growing Lots