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I was out walking in the woods a couple of weeks ago and came into my house only to see my shoelaces full of cockleburs. My initial reaction was frustration since they take so much time and patience to pick out of the tangled laces. As I began to dislodge each seed pod, I began to smile- what a resilient and clever way to spread your gift into the world.  While we are not as creative (and hopefully not as annoying) as the cocklebur, Living Earth Center is finding new and interesting ways to spread its roots out and share its gifts.

One of our seed sprouts is taking root in partnership and management of the Blue Earth County Farm. Founded as a place to grow local produce to be donated to organizations addressing food access and security, the county Community Farm concept has been in existence for nearly a decade. The Farm has seen a couple of locations locally throughout the years. However, the almost 1 acre of uncultivated land nestled next to the Red Jack Trail is where, we hope, it finds its long-term home as a branch of the Living Earth Center.

Envisioning what is possible for an entirely uncultivated space feels a little overwhelming and daunting. We have big dreams for this space that include growing a variety of vegetables and fruit in a regenerative way that considers and is intentional to the land's health. We hope to cultivate community- in a space that invites many different organizations and individuals to participate in learning and growing.  So far, our community partners include ECHO Food Shelf, CADA House, Mankato MYPlace, Feeding Our Community Partners, Welcome Manor, and Theresa House, Blue Earth, and Nicollet County 4-H, Makhato Revitalization Project, and American Indian students & Families in District 77 and Sentence to Serve.  We hope to expand our partnerships so that the Farm's involvement reflects the distinct community it serves. 

Like anything in nature, this process will occur organically over time as we begin to understand what gaps exist and how we can find unique ways of filling them by sharing our gift. Like any start, it only takes finding the right home, putting in some seed, nurturing and caring for that land and seed, and seeing how it grows. Amid transition and upheaval over the last few years, we know that we are firmly rooted in our ethics and values to care for the land, care for ourselves, and care for each other. We understand that this foundation has the power to grow amazing tomatoes but also can create strong community resilience.  The cockleburs have done such an excellent job, figuring out ways to carry out their legacy. Given our strong roots that began with the School Sisters of Notre Dame and the Living Earth Community Garden, we hope to carry our legacy of building community growing spaces that address the immediate needs of our community in addition to creating symbiotic connections that keep our local area healthy and strong. 

We anticipate an official opening of the Community Farm on May 1st and welcome you to join us in helping to make it as productive, vibrant, unique, and welcoming a place as Community Garden on Good Counsel Hill. You can give your gift of support through volunteering or giving an in-kind or fiscal contribution.