Minnesota Christian Examiner's July, 2011 Featured Article (click HERE for full edition)
KARE 11 Community Garden Day, August 6, 2011 (click HERE for written article)
Twin Cities Daily Planet Article (click HERE for full story)
Xue Xiong’s mother’s corn in Laos had bright pink and yellow and green hair. “We didn’t really have dolls to play with,” she said. So they used corn. “We’d braid their hair in different styles.” Now Xiong prefers American corn. Although Hmong neighbors to her garden in the Harvest Gardens of Maplewood still grow the pink-haired Hmong corn she remembers, Xiong says, “My corn’s hair is just plain.”
Xiong is one of 495 gardeners working seven acres of land on Country Road C and Hazelwood Road. The land is owned by First Evangelical Free Church, a block away. Since the church shares facilities with Hmong Hope Community Church and was connected to the Burmese Karen refugee community through another church, 75 percent of the gardeners are Hmong, and 9 percent are Karen.
The space has expanded from one small garden in 2009 to 960 15-by-15 foot plots this year. Volunteers surveyed the land, laid the 4600 feet of irrigation, and staked the plots. Gardeners pay nothing. “We really want to just show the love of Christ through being a good neighbor and through visiting gardeners and offering what we have for people to benefit from,” said Tina Middlemiss, a First Free Church member and Harvest gardener.
Luckily, vegetables know no language barriers. Middlemiss said, “When I’m in the garden and standing up to my knees in tomatoes, and I see someone else who I don’t speak the same language as, I smile and wave and say, ‘Ooh nice.’”