Organization and community: Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership (Southwest region, MN)
Residents of Solace, who’ve faced homelessness or are coming out of treatment or incarceration, worked with an artist for 15 months to create the Solace Community Garden. The artist and residents decided that a community garden would be beneficial- both for food security and mental health. Residents identified what they wanted to see in a garden and worked with a horticulturist to put together a garden plan that involved everything the residents desired- including a children’s play space amongst the functionality of the garden, such as a “pea tunnel” and a kids stump table and chairs. In August 2020, the artists returned to coach families in building raised garden beds. Other garden installation happened with the horticulturists’ crew for Covid safety purposes. While the garden was installed too late in the season this year to produce food, for many residents, it was a welcome way to interact with their neighbors in a safe way. One resident told staff that it was nice to see a dream come to reality instead of just staying something inside their heads.
In collaboration with artist and cultural organizer Eric Avery and residents, artist Ashley Satorious created a visual survey of what people were interested in eating or growing. Over community meals, Satorious then worked with embodied coach and facilitator Marie Michael to help residents dream of what a community garden would like. The garden is set to be completed spring of 2021.