The student garden, operated by the Urban Farm Collective, is in danger of being lost due to the existing property being sold.
The main building on the property is the Wells Building, and though it is still used sparingly by MCTC, its poor structure and high costs of maintenance will likely lead to the building’s, and property’s, demise.
Any attempts to refurbish the building to code would cost $7 million, while the land itself is only worth $1 million. The property, technically owned by the state of Minnesota, will likely be occupied by housing after being sold.
Though the Wells Building is only used for miscellaneous events, the garden has been used consistently since 2013 by the UFC. They have been planting and harvesting many varieties of fresh produce, which are then distributed, for free, to MCTC students.
“All the food was harvested and given away once a week during distributions, and it was given away for free to MCTC students,” said UFC Advisor and Biology instructor Katherine Kragtorp. “So students could just show up, grab a bag, grab what they wanted and that was that.”
As a group, the UFC is at an impasse as a result of the property being sold off. They could go to Student Senate for the funds but they would need “a darn good argument” for why they would want to give the funds to them again, said Kragtorp.
From Summer 2013 until last Fall, UFC distributed over half a ton of fresh produce to students every week in the fall and summer.
“The full year we got, like, 1000 pounds worth of produce out to students for free,” said Charles Karter, Student Senate director of Health and Sustainability and former UFC member. “We supplied [Tippiman] with herbs to try to lower the costs… It could be a cheap salad for somebody that needs a meal.”
Karter also said the UFC had been getting fresh coffee grounds from Dunn Brothers Tippiman to use as compost.
Funding for the garden came directly from Student Life, which means MCTC students were directly funding the operation.
The UFC is unsure where a new garden could be located. Kragtorp mentioned several places that could potentially be used, such as a small plot of land next to the Kopp building, or even in Loring Park. Karter also mentioned possibly building a garden on top of the parking garage.
The property will not be renovated for some time, but the garden will not be planted this coming summer.
There will be a meeting with the Minneapolis Park Board where Karter will petition for garden space on Thursday, March 16.