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“Miracles Can Happen” in North Minneapolis

The summer of 2014 proved to be a great opportunity for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to make headway for outreach in north Minneapolis.  NRCS’ mission is “Helping People Help the Land.” Effective outreach ensures that all programs and services are made accessible to all NRCS customers, fairly and equitably. Realizing the importance of outreach in the twin cities, Cutrina Moreland, MN NRCS employee made connections with local community organizers in north Minneapolis.  Over a three month period, Ms. Moreland facilitated a weekly planning committee with local partners.  Ms. Moreland’s outreach efforts led to NRCS becoming involved with “Miracles Can Happen.”

On June 2, 2014, Minnesota NRCS worked together with a diverse mix of city and community leaders to celebrate the expansion of Karamu Garden.  The following MN NRCS employees, Tim Wilson, John Crellin, Cutrina Moreland, Leslie Diaz and Robin Stevenson were recruited to work at the NRCS booth and showcase the rainfall simulator.  

The “Miracles Can Happen” event brought together between 300-400 local citizens, partners and agencies.  This garden was one of five national recipients of a grant through the U.S. Council of Mayors by Scotts Miracle-Grow’s GRO1000 programThe program is dedicated to creating more than 1,000 community gardens and green spaces in the U.S., Canada and Europe by 2018.

Karamu Garden is a Community garden and a way in which local citizens can learn about planting, maintaining and harvesting local garden produce.  “NRCS sees working with the garden projects in north Minneapolis as a way to share NRCS’ technical knowledge for horticulture,” said Moreland. “This can lead to ways for the urban customer and its citizens to learn more how NRCS mission is making a difference in people’s lives.”

Through this event and other outreach efforts, MN NRCS became connected with Project Sweetie Pie. Michael Chaney, Project Sweetie Pie founder was quick to see the benefit of his organization connecting with NRCS. After several weeks of working in the north Minneapolis gardens, on July 31, 2014 the students from Project Sweetie Pie participated in a field trip to the Waconia and Jordan field offices.  The students learned valuable technical skills from District Conservationists, Lisa Buckner and Katundra Shears.  As a result of this experience, the students now have a better idea of how NRCS might be a possible career choice for them in the future.

Since the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s, NRCS has worked with conservation districts and others throughout the U.S. to help landowners, as well as Federal, State, Tribal, and local governments and community groups.  For more information regarding outreach in Minnesota please contact Moreland via email at Cutrina.moreland@mn.usda.gov