Author Archives: Blaine Merker

The Framework Plan is ready!

Hot off the presses, download a copy of the Frogtown Farm Framework Plan:
Frogtown_Farm_Framework_Final_web

or get your hardcopy here:
http://www.blurb.com/books/5128443-frogtown-farm-framework

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Recycling a barn

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?

barn 018

Maybe we’re just going through a phase…?

Phasing study presented at the December 10, 2013 meeting

Phasing study presented at the December 10, 2013 meeting

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.

December 10th Community Meeting showcases design and program options

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.

The design team's architect, John Dwyer, describes 'Option A'

The design team’s architect, John Dwyer, describes ‘Option A’

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:

  1. The Frogtown Farm Enterprise Co-Op
  2. The Frogtown Specialty Farm
  3. The Frogtown Farm Hub

…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.

We stop for a snack break before splitting up into 5 stations to talk about the site options, programming, and phasing.

We stop for a snack break before splitting up into 5 stations to talk about the site options, programming, and phasing.

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!

The team's crackerjack soil ecologist, Jake Voit, breaks down the nuances of loam!

The team’s crackerjack soil ecologist, Jake Voit, breaks down the nuances of loam!

Community Ambassadors Abdi and Chong staff the program feedback station.

Community Ambassadors Abdi and Chong staff the program feedback station.

Writing comments on 'Option B'

Writing comments on ‘Option B’

There’s nothing like having a meeting on site

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).

The team huddles around a site plan and discusses layout options.

The team huddles around a site plan and discusses layout options.

Jake Voit looks at the soil profile from the middle of the site.

Jake Voit looks at the soil profile from the middle of the site.

The site is gorgeous in October!

The site is gorgeous in October!