A Summer at Shalom
By Lucy Tschida, Youth Outdoors Crew 6 Member / AmeriCorps Member
Days for the Youth Outdoor 6 crew vary vastly. Our mornings typically consist of a leisurely drive to the bustling Minneapolis Parks & Recreation Board office, windows down, and that day’s chosen crew member/unofficial DJ playing music. Yet our afternoons are filled with an ever changing array of projects – anywhere from doing Oriental Bittersweet surveys along the Minnehaha creek, pulling thistle alongside volunteer groups, or seeding local lakeside swales. While these have all been meaningful and educational projects, one of the most rewarding experiences of my term so far has been working in the Shalom community garden.
The Shalom Garden is a volunteer-managed community garden located in the Phillips neighborhood of South Minneapolis at 15th Avenue South and 28th Street with new plots designated in the spring each year.
Our first day working at Shalom we were told that our new role would be to help restore this once flourishing garden that had since become overgrown during a period of changing management. When we first arrived it was hard not to be somewhat taken-aback by the state of the garden; needles littering the ground, a broken down shed, and trees so wildly entangled in the fencing along the perimeter that I thought we’d never be able to uproot them. Yet I was motivated by the unwavering optimism of the volunteer gardeners who faithfully tended to their plots and made a constant effort to make us feel welcomed, and teach us about each of the plants they were growing – giving us taste tests of nasturtium, raspberries, and even burdock stocks!
After many days of planting, mulching, weeding, and removing debris, with the help of everyone involved, the garden blossomed into a cozy & thriving community hotspot.
Our final task: to build a picnic table in hopes Shalom would continue to become a welcoming gathering space, not only for harvesting fresh produce, but for learning about community and the important role that nature can play in our lives. In Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board tradition, after assembling the table we all signed our names on the underside and ate the first official lunch at it! Thank you Shalom for a great summer!!