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North Minneapolis Garden Sees Appetite For Involvement And Healing

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- In the wake of George Floyd's killing, neighborhoods are dealing with limited access to resources like groceries, especially in places impacted by looting and burning. But there's a couple in North Minneapolis trying to help one vegetable at a time.

"What happens when our city falls down? What happens when people don't want to sell things to us? What happens when there is another extreme riot or how do we continue to feed ourselves?" Queen Frye asked, reflecting on the past month. "When the devastation happened after George Floyd it minimizes the minimal resources that this community already has."

The big-name grocery store on West Broadway street is closed. Frye says it was one of two grocery options in the area that didn't require a trip out of town. But near the boarded grocery store, there's something growing and building momentum in the shadows of unrest.

"I'm learning that I don't have to go to the grocery store if the grocery store is shut down," Michael Kuykindall said.

Kuykindall started a community garden with Frye last year, with help from nonprofit Appetite for Change. Turning a vacant lot near Penn Avenue and West Broadway Avenue into a thriving garden. They recently renamed the garden R. Roots Garden.

"We're responding to the demand that's needed in this neighborhood, which is there's a food scarcity, there's food insecurity," Frye said.

"Our garden reflects all the things you can consider when you think about liberation and reclamation and freedom and redemption and rejoicing and rediscovering," garden member Michele Fernandez Livingston said.

"It feels really grounding. I come here, I feel comfortable. I feel at peace" Kuykindall said.

"You can taste the north side in the collard greens you can taste where you're from," Frye said

Like last year, they'll offer their produce at local farmer's markets this summer. Neighbors will continue to help and grow here, too. But unlike last year, some are reaching out needing more than just produce.

"We had a couple people reach out to us to say, 'Hey, are you going to be at the garden? Can we come to the garden today?' Because they were exhausted with being at the rallies and the protests," Frye said.

"Once you start toiling with that dirt you know you're creating from your natural place," Fernandez Livingston said.

"I think a lot of people look to farming and gardening as becoming more grounded," said Kuykindall.

Someday, Frye and Kuykindall hope to move to a bigger farm and employ young people to provide a positive outlet. For now, they'll be here. Replanting, replenishing and reconnecting with an open invitation.

"They see us turning the soil they see us watering they see us harvesting we invite them to be a part of this story," Frye said. "This is our way of providing a healing space."

"I think that liberation is in the dirt in the good soil," said Fernandez Livingston.

Frye and Kuykindall plan to hold community harvest and healing events throughout the summer.

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