ENVIRONMENTAL INITIATiVE AWARDS: 2016 Finalist

This project has been selected as a finalist in the Community Action category:

Frogtown Park and Farm

Project Summary

Frogtown Park and Farm is the culmination of a multiyear effort, starting with a neighborhood dream for an urban farm and supported by a process led by The Trust for Public Land to acquire and preserve 13 wooded acres in the heart of the Frogtown neighborhood in Saint Paul, engage the community in shaping the park design, launch a new non-profit urban farming organization, and work with the City to develop the park and farm for public use and enjoyment. Research demonstrated that Frogtown was previously the most park-poor neighborhood in the City. Our process eventually transformed 13 acres of underutilized space into a new neighborhood park with a recreation area, nature sanctuary, and urban demonstration farm in the heart of Saint Paul’s most park-deficient neighborhood. Frogtown had the lowest amount of green space per child (only 0.006 acres per child) and the highest concentration of children (more than 30% of Frogtown residents are under 17) in need of a safe place to play.

After being contacted by Frogtown neighborhood leaders, The Trust for Public Land led the process of bringing this dream to life using our expertise in land conservation, real estate, fundraising, park development, and community engagement. We launched a $4.5M public-private fundraising campaign to purchase land and to develop the park and farm as well as to provide start-up funds for Frogtown Farm, the community-based nonprofit which is managing the farm under lease agreement with the City.

We worked with the former landowner, Amherst H. Wilder Foundation, to acquire the land for $2.2M, negotiating a discount from the appraised value, which helped bring Frogtown Park and Farm closer to a reality. Support for Frogtown Park and Farm comes in part from state lottery funds, through the Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, as recommended by the Legislative Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources. Following the acquisition, The Trust for Public Land conveyed the land to the City of Saint Paul, which assumed responsibility of the land as an official City park. During this time, The Trust for Public Land also supported a newly formed non-profit, Frogtown Farm, in their efforts to become established and lease a portion of the park (approximately five acres) from the City of Saint Paul for urban demonstration farm purposes.

The Trust for Public Land, Frogtown Farm, and the City of Saint Paul engaged the local community to help design the park and farm. An inclusive community engagement process encouraged people of different backgrounds to help create the vision for the new park. Now operational, Frogtown Farm is one of the largest contiguous urban farms in the country, offering enough space to eventually feed thousands of people every year. Produce from Frogtown Farm will be sold and distributed on-site, to community partners, local food shelves, at farmer's markets, and in grocery stores and restaurants. The result of this community action is a neighborhood park with a farm situated on top of a hill in the Frogtown community, which will serve as a hub for health, recreation, local food, and a connection to nature. The final component of this project is the construction of a nature-based play area, with anticipated completion by fall 2016.

Project Website

http://www.tpl.org/blog/frogtown-park-and-farm-opens

Project Partners

  • Amherst H. Wilder Foundation
  • Seitu Jones
  • City of Saint Paul
  • Soyini Guyton
  • Frogtown Farm
  • Tony Schmitz
  • Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources
  • Residents of the Frogtown neighborhood
  • Patricia Ohmans
  • The Trust for Public Land

How did the project partners work together?

The Trust for Public Land, the City of Saint Paul, and Frogtown Farm were the primary project partners involved in the conception of the idea, land acquisition, fundraising, community engagement and design process, and park development. The initial concept of a farm was articulated by four neighborhood residents, which led to the creation of Frogtown Gardens (now Frogtown Farm). Contact with The Trust for Public Land was initiated by the neighbors. The Trust for Public Land in turn helped engage the City and managed the process that brought the dream of the farm and park to life.

Land acquisition was possible through a financial commitment by the City and the Environmental and Natural Resources Trust Fund as well as a discount on the purchase negotiated by The Trust for Public Land, due to the mission of the Wilder Foundation. Following acquisition, land was conveyed to the City and park design, community engagement and development began in earnest to enhance the initial concept so that the design would meet the needs of the neighborhood.

All activities were supported by a successful $4.5M fundraising campaign developed and implemented by The Trust for Public Land. The campaign raised $2.5 million in public funding and $2 million from private donors. One unique contributor were members of Sisters of the Good Shepherd, the convent that occupied the site from 1883 to 1969. A key component of the plan was raising start-up funds for Frogtown Farm to support their first years as the nonprofit which will develop and sustain the farm into the future. Frogtown Farm will celebrate its first year of site-based operations in October 2016.

How is the project groundbreaking?

Frogtown Park and Farm is the result of a highly collaborative effort to bring new public greenspace to Saint Paul’s park-deficient Frogtown neighborhood. The City of Saint Paul could have requested land acquisition assistance from The Trust for Public Land, and then developed a park without our assistance. However, the City respected the community’s desire for something unique and asked The Trust for Public Land to bring our expertise in urban park-making to the process.

The Trust for Public Land engagement not only informed park design and development, but also supported the concept of  Frogtown Farm as the manager of the farm component. Our collective work with Frogtown Farm has been a catalyst for the residents of Frogtown to become active participants in improving their community. Frogtown Park and Farm will undoubtedly nourish, connect, and empower this community to grow their own healthy foods, boost the economic potential of a low-income neighborhood, protect the environment, and offer recreation opportunities that improve health and social connectedness.

Frogtown Park and Farm is also a successful model for other urban agriculture and gardening projects both locally and nationwide. Operating on leased public park space, which is unique, Frogtown Farm is one of the largest contiguous urban farms in the country, and at 5 acres will offer enough space to feed thousands of people every year. Food production will occur year-round due to the installation of a hoop house, and the planned construction of a greenhouse. Strengthening community, increasing access to locally grown food, and providing residents opportunities to enjoy a natural area in the heart of the City would not have occurred without this complex and rewarding partnership.  

What are the project goals?

The dream of an urban demonstration farm spurred the initial The Trust for Public Land and Frogtown Farm partnership. The subsequent availability of the old “Wilder Site” spurred The Trust for Public Land to marry the farm idea to a neighborhood park goal.

Thirteen acres of vacant land in an urban setting is typically a highly desirable asset that could be developed for high-density housing or commercial uses, with a boulevard or very small public open space at the most. The Trust for Public Land, neighborhood leaders, and the City created the idea of a park with a farm, and the implementation provided myriad environmental and health benefits to the Frogtown neighborhood.

The mature grove of oak trees remains intact and able to mitigate the urban heat island effect during warm months. The grove of trees and the farm provide a welcome environment for bird and bee pollinators, and provides additional urban habitat for native flora and fauna. The site will also help mitigate flooding through its stormwater filtration in a dense urban neighborhood and provide much needed recreational opportunities.

Through permanent ownership by the City of St. Paul, and farm stewardship and programming shared with Frogtown Farm, the park provides active involvement of community members in recreation and in learning about urban backyard farming. In addition, one objective of Frogtown Farm is to teach neighbors how to grow food in their own backyards, thereby furthering community partnerships and increasing the knowledge and amount of locally produced food. Frogtown Farm is already having great success with neighborhood engagement.

What are the project outcomes?

The Trust for Public Land, neighbors, and The City of Saint Paul Parks and Recreation Department identified Frogtown’s dream for a farm and desperate need for park space about five years ago. Together, we have achieved remarkable success in bringing Frogtown Park and Farm to life.

The Frogtown community is extremely pleased with the final result. Highlighting this outcome was the grand opening when Frogtown Park and Farm was enthusiastically received by the community at a celebration marking its official opening to the public on October 3, 2015. More than 1,000 community members, volunteers, partners, and honored guests attended the event which began with a blessing of the land, followed by a brief speaking program, a host of on-site activities, and wonderful food from a diverse array of local Frogtown restaurants. The 13-acre park and farm immediately demonstrated its draw as a neighborhood gathering place as long-standing project supporters mingled with neighbors who happened to be walking by and stopped to check out the new park. Additionally, Frogtown Park and Farm helps achieve The Trust for Public Land’s goal to ensure that everyone is within a 10-minute walk of a safe and vibrant park, playground, or natural area.

Event Details

Thursday, May 25, 2017
5:00 - 5:45 p.m. Registration & reception
5:45 - 8:00 p.m. Dinner & program
8:00 - 9:00 p.m. Dessert & reception 

Nicollet Island Pavilion
40 Power Street
Minneapolis, MN 55401
 

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Presenting Sponsors

Environmental Lay Group

Great River Energy

Reception sponsor

25th Anniversary Sponsors

CATEGORY SPONSORS

Community Action

Critical Collaborator

Stoel Rives LLP

Emerging Leader

Aveda

Energy and Climate

The Weidt Group

Natural Resources

Sustainable Business

Supporting Sponsors


Minnesota Power



partner SPONSORs

In-kind sponsors

AFFILIATE SPONSORs

CliftonLarsonAllen LLP

Consulate General of Canada

Rochester Public Utilities

Associate Sponsors

Bremer Bank
G & K Services
Nova Consulting
Smith Partners