Hot off the presses, download a copy of the Frogtown Farm Framework Plan:
or get your hardcopy here:
Hot off the presses, download a copy of the Frogtown Farm Framework Plan:
or get your hardcopy here:
Team members John Dwyer and Blaine Merker met with representatives from the City of Saint Paul City Manager’s office, Parks & Rec, and architect Paul Ormseth to discuss the possibility of re-using a historic barn at the Farm. While relocating a historic structure poses significant cost, historic and logistical challenges, there may be a possibility to re-use some of the structural members of a barn that might be in the path of development. We will explore including this option in the Master Plan.
What do you think about the possibility of re-using old barn parts? What about re-locating an entire barn?
One of the most important concepts presented by the design team is the notion that not all of the Farm can be built in a single year — both because of limits on available funding and the need to build soil and site fertility over time.
Above, this idea is illustrated with a simple diagram showing how various parts of the Farm could be built out over the course of four years. What would come first? It makes sense to invest in infrastructure in one effort, if possible. Things like pathway paving, lighting, fences, and play equipment would all make sense to go in in Year 1 when construction is active on the site. After this framework is complete, other parts of the Farm could be constructed as time, money and man- and woman-power allow: fruit trees can be planted, soil built up, gardens built.
One exception to the rule of “infrastructure first” might be the construction of a community gathering building, or Farm House, which might require additional funds to be secured.
Stay tuned for our meeting on January 4, 2014, where the design team will break out what can be funded and built in Year 1 vs. subsequent years.
This week the Frogtown Farm design team presented three site plan and programming options at an evening meeting at Jackson Elementary in Frogtown. Many attendees were familiar with the night’s facilitor — actor and singer T Mychael Rambo — who led the meeting with song and call-and-response. (Thanks to the Trust for Public Land for supporting the meeting with his services!) This was the first official combined meeting of the Farm design team and the City of Saint Paul Parks & Rec Department, and the plans for the park-and-farm were presented together, as the unified whole that we hope to make them.
Despite bitter cold and snow piling up outside, several dozen people attended the meeting and dove into an enthusiastic discussion of the plans. Each option contained elements that have received support in previous presentations and with the Farm’s Design Advisory Committee (DAC), so the exercise of the evening involved creative analysis of the possible combinations that could be made from the various plans.
The team also presented three programming options, dubbed:
…and asked attendees to consider which of the three would provide the best economic and organizational roadmap for the Farm. (See the ‘Meeting Record‘ tab for detailed descriptions of each programming option.) Unlike the farm site designs, the programming options were presented as options that should be pursued whole — as opposed to mix-and-match. Why? Because a clear and coherent programming strategy will be crucial to moving the Farm forward in the first few years.
The design team got lots of great feedback, which we will be digesting in the coming days to arrive at a single site plan and program strategy. You can view the “raw” comments on the meetings page here, along with the actual boards and people’s written notes. If you weren’t able to attend the meeting, we hope you’ll catch up and see what people wrote.
What’s the next step? The team will be preparing the final site design and presenting it at our January 4th celebration, 1-4pm, once again at Jackson Elementary. We hope to see you there!
We received our report back from the Soil and Plant Lab in San Jose, CA, and it describes the amendments and steps need to make the soil at the Farm able to support ample food production. Read the report here: Soil and Plant Lab Soil Amendment Recipe Nov 2013
On Sunday the design team (all of us!) met on the site of Frogtown Farm for a working meeting to discuss layout and site design. It was an especially productive session, with time to check in with City of Saint Paul Parks & Rec Landscape Architect Kathleen Anglo, as wells as Frogtown Farm Board member Seitu Jones. The designers walked the site to determine ideal path and access points, noting the slopes of the topography, and taking soil plugs periodically to assess depth of the top soil (it varies considerably).
Team designers Blaine Merker and John Bela (along with John’s brother Paul, a farmer in Kentucky) spent the day after the October 12th Community Design Workshop touring local farms for inspiration and lessons to bring to Frogtown Farm.
First stop was the University of Minnesota student demonstration garden, run by design team member Courtney Tchida. While the season was done and had left just a few tomatoes clinging to the vine (as frost still lingered in the furrows), there were a few tasty strawberries still to be had.
Later that day, we drove out to Big River Farms just by the Wisconsin border. Big River has an interesting model: there is a large production field and hoop houses for the CSA they run, as well as training plots for immigrants who are learning to farm, who can also contribute to the CSA’s produce. The farm manager helps train the immigrant farmers, each of whom may be in a different phase of expertise and entrepreneurship around farming.
Managing new farmers to produce goods for a CSA is difficult business, but as the farmers become more experienced, they are able to commit to producing more and more for the CSA. Setting prices, proper handling and washing of the produce, as well as marketing are all areas that Big River helps train these new farmers in. After a year or so at Big River, the new farmers go on to farm their own plots.
On Saturday, Oct. 12th, the design team presented background research and design examples at the Rondo Library to gather community feedback on the design directions and programs possible for the Farm. Check out our summary and image of the display boards in the “Meeting Record” section of the blog.
More images below:
We had a productive and successful design workshop with a great turnout from the community! We brainstormed about the layout of Frogtown Farm and which services and programs it will provide. Look below to see the boards where we collected community feedback, concerns, questions, aspirations, and desires.
The “Yields” board was intended to gauge where community support lay for different focuses of Frogtown Farm. Participants were asked to select their top three choices to account for the fact farm yields can overlap and accomplish multiple tasks. The community’s top focus for Frogtown Farm was Youth Empowerment and Education with Job Training and Education and Community Ties close second and third choices, respectively.
What do you think?
The “What you you think?” board was design to capture the community’s general thought, desires, and concerns about Frogtown Farm. The main desires are to incorporate everyone, especially neighborhood youth, and for the farm to have unique yields, not duplicate work already done in Frogtown.
Menu of programs
The “Menu of programs” board spatially displayed what different services and infrastructure are possible at Frogtown Farm. Frogtown community members envision a multifunctional building that could be a center for food storage, processing, and sales, a meeting for farmers and community members, and potentially an on-site residence for a farmer (and his/her family). The feedback also demonstrated a great inclination towards production and demonstration farm plots rather than space for private community gardens.
The “Site analysis” board displayed the current layout of the entire Frogtown Park and Farm property and mapped out some of the important features of the property that will affect the farm, such as “ag potential, “vegetation,” and “sun and wind.” Feedback on the board was widespread, as many of the voiced concerns, suggestions, and desires were concerned more with the entire property, rather than the farm specifically. The farm specific suggestions ranged from cover crops to compost production to the possibility for animals on the property.
The “Farm types” board made graphic the dichotomy between paid and volunteer staff. It also further subdivided the two general categories. Paid staff was broken into education/training, production, and social justice farms, while farms operated by volunteers were separated into community-managed, volunteer-run farms and community gardens. The feedback gathered on the board reiterated the concern about duplicating existing programs and institutions in Frogtown and instead urged Frogtown Farm to be a nexus of existing programs.
Farm organization structures
The “Farm organizational structures” board demonstrated how decisions about Frogtown Farm have and will be made. Much of the feedback discusses what type of organization structure would enable the most efficient and prosperous farm. Process related feedback was directed to questions about how to maximize community engagement (representative of a diverse Frogtown demographic) and where the power of final decisions lay amongst the different organizations involved. Physical concerns about the site focused on access and parking and ensuring safety and security at the Farm.
Food systems and existing assets
The “Food systems and existing assets” board documents existing Frogtown businesses and organizations related to food and community development. Workshop participants added important businesses and services previously overlooked to help expand Rebar’s knowledge of the area.