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Student-led Urban Garden Flourishes

The MCTC Urban Farm Collective (UFC) student club finished the construction of an on-campus urban garden in late May and recently held its first food distribution event in the T Skyway.

The 8,700 square foot garden was built over the course of the 2014 spring semester in any empty grass plot at Spruce and Yale Place. Dozens of fruits and vegetables including peppers, kale, squash, onions and tomatillos are growing and being harvested weekly to serve to the MCTC community. “The intention is to show people that urban agriculture is a reliable source of food,” said student Cody Mehlin, UFC president.


Urban gardens, or community gardens, are part of the growing urban agriculture movement. These gardens are plotted and maintained by a community in highly populated locations.

This isn’t the club’s first experience establishing a garden. The club started a garden in 2012 on a plot next to the Gethsemane Episcopal Church in Downtown Minneapolis. Club members distributed some of that food to the community for free and sold the rest at local farmers markets.

“The downtown garden was a huge success but we couldn’t bring the produce back to the students,” said UFC advisor and Biology instructor Katherine Kragtorp.

The College’s Student Senate approved a $65,000 budget for a groundbreaking in December 2013. In the two months since its completion, the garden has begun yielding enough produce to distribute to MCTC students, and club members plan to add a bordering fence, a shed and benches. UFC expects to gain more ground with the garden when more students return for the fall semester and there are more varieties of foods to disburse.

Kragtorp is excited about the garden. She hopes students and community members will learn gardening doesn’t require much work. She’s proud of the students who made it happen.

“I can’t take any credit for this,” she said. “It was entirely the students.”

In 2009 MCTC signed on to the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment. Student initiatives like the urban garden and the Three-legged Frog environmental club support this initiative through on-campus events, activities and campaigns.

The garden is open to volunteers Monday through Thursday from 2:30 to 5 p.m. Produce from the garden is distributed Wednesdays for free from noon to 1 p.m. in the T Skyway. Visit the club’s Facebook page or email them at MCTCUrbanFarmCollective@gmail.com.

See more photos of the garden on Flickr.