By Gaby Gerken
August has been exciting for the Metro Crew: rather than maintaining rain gardens, we finally had the opportunity to build them! For a week and a half we worked alongside a landscape architect from the nonprofit Metro Blooms. They worked with the neighborhood group in Prospect Park Minneapolis to give grants for rain gardens to be placed on thirteen homeowners’ properties, and we were there to help install them.
This included removing sod, digging the hole, leveling the dirt, mixing in compost and mulching the garden before they were planted by volunteers. It was hard work but after a summer of weeding we were happy to be using our muscles again. That being said, we quickly discovered that we had become a little soft when we had to pick ax through compacted dirt, rocks and roots. In one location we had to dig down about four feet to remove an old laundry line post. It took hours to chip away the cement until we could pull it out, but on the way down many treasures were discovered. For example, we found broken floral plates, old ball jars, a yoyo and several intact bottles, two of which appear to be from the 1920s! We also found out that there are marbles buried everywhere in Prospect Park – we found at least one every day. The bottles and marbles shined up nicely and make for some great decorations in my apartment.
As soon as we entered the neighborhood I knew it was going to be a great week; the area is full of beautiful 100-year-old homes, native plants fill front yards and a few backyard chickens were spotted amongst the many gardens. It was amazing to see in the middle of the city, and the owners’ enthusiasm for making the gardens was just as encouraging. Everyone was truly excited to see them being built, and every day neighbors would walk by asking about what we were doing and how they could get one themselves.
The people living in Prospect Park were so appreciative of us, and we are so grateful for their kindness. They made us iced coffee, handed out Clif Bars and apples and chatted about our pasts and futures. On our last day, we finished up the thirteenth garden and stayed a few extra hours to volunteer with Surly Brewing Company to plant them. After returning our trucks and equipment to the shop and clocking out, we went to the Surly taproom, where homeowners treated us to some local beer. One couple even invited us to their home for pizza after discovering that we had skipped dinner in order to finish up work. It was definitely an experience that I will remember for years to come.
Thank you Prospect Park! I hope the gardens helped with all the rain this week.