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St. Paul Police Officer Uses Garden To Grow Community Relationships

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) -- In late September, the harvest of vegetables is a familiar sight in gardens, but one stands out. It's a community garden nestled behind a public housing high-rise for seniors and others in St. Paul.

Linda Carter Nyakundi is the gardener in charge.

"It's just beautiful. I think it's great," she said. "Everything grew, the tomatoes on this side grew."

Residents of the Central Hi-Rise apartment building share the workload of tending the garden, including Jason Pederson -- a St. Paul Police officer. He's lived in the building for the past three years -- it's part of his job.

jason pederson
Jason Pederson (credit: CBS)

"They don't just see a uniform anymore," he said. "They see me here with my kids. They get to talk to me more than just on a police level. It's more a friendly level."

Officer Pederson says his father brought in soil from his farm outside of Hutchinson to get the garden started.

"He's an officer when he puts on his uniform and stuff and when he needs to be," Nyakundi said. "He's basically a nice man. And he's cute, too!"

st paul police garden
(credit: CBS)

The vegetables from the garden are given to the people who live here.

"It's a community garden, so everything kind of gets laid out on the table in the community room," Pederson said. "Linda takes care of a lot of that -- baggies everything up. Kind of, first-come-first-serve."

The residents council bought the seeds for the garden. They're growing vegetables and herbs that represent the many ethnic groups that live there.

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