Group fights to save Maplewood community garden

Community members say there’s a hidden gem underneath a blanket of snow on two and a half acres of land in Maplewood. But it has an uncertain future.

"We have many food insecure families in this area, we stand to lose a space for them where they can grow food," Sherry Sanders said. "It’s about ending hunger for many people."

For years, the garden Sherry Sanders helped create has grown food to grace the plates of about 1,000 people.

"It generates food for maybe 50 days of the year," garden founder Ron Peterson added.

But the space is about more than just food, it also bolsters community; a tightly-knit community that’s evolved into a melting pot of different cultures, "There’s like 12 different languages spoken in the garden," Peterson continued. The land is divided into 260 plots, each rented out for $20, for people to grow healthy food.

Only now the gardeners fear their growing season could be coming to an end. St. Paul Regional Water Services owns the entire 9-acre property. It was purchased in 2014 for $2.5 million. But the organization’s plans for the land quickly fell through, and now they have no use for it.

Since 2017 it’s been leased out for gardening. But now gardeners fear a developer may soon buy it out from underneath them. Before that happens, they’ve set out to raise $1 million for the 2 and a half acres of land. 

Already they say they have a pledge of $300,000. "We’re also applying for a grant from different organizations," Peterson said.

Next, the group plans to plead its case at the next Board of Water commissioners meeting on Feb. 14. 

The public utility tells FOX 9 it doesn’t have any bids on the land and is not currently talking to any developers or listing the property. But at any time, for the right price, that could change.