The land cover in the outer Twin Cities has changed drastically in the last 20 years: areas that were once farms became the booming suburbs of Maple Grove, Chaska, and Woodbury. Urbanites often like to think they are the progressive, community-focused tenants while their space-loving suburban counterparts hide behind their privacy fences; but, Fritz Haeg’s Edible Estate #15 seeks to turn that notion on its head. “The projects I’m most interested in,” he said in recent interview, “are the ones that exist in this fantastic, ideal notion of what the city I want to live in looks like—creating some small piece of that and putting it into the least likely part of the city to see that contrast between the city we want and the city we have.”
After a Twin Cities–wide call to find the right family, 100 applications, and 10 interviews, Haeg found the perfect suburb-dwelling family: the Schoenherrs. They garden, they make bread, they wanted to have a place to grow their community connections, and they had a huge front yard. But finding the right family in the right place was just the beginning. How, in fact, does one actually execute the transformation from prized front lawn to productive edible garden?
How does this…
Over Memorial Day Weekend, more than 75 volunteers — in combination with the Schoenherr Family, Walker staff, and Fritz Haeg — worked tirelessly to convert 4,500 sq feet lawn into an edible garden as part of Fritz Haeg: At Home in the City. The process involved one sod cutter, two trips to the landscape dump, 17 bags of leaf litter mulch, 30 yards of compost, 40 shovels, a wood chipper, thousands of plants, and one very skilled laborer, Stan the Boyfriend.
First we started with Fritz’s design diagram…
…then we added in a cohort of eager volunteers…
…and finally we laid out the beds and started digging!
Hardscaping materials included stumps and rocks scavenged from the local landscaping dump, a fallen willow from a neighbor’s yard, and rock reused from previous landscaping in the yard.
Then we left the heavy lifting to the hardest workers…
…and moved 30 yards of compost into place.
With the table terrace fully in place, the first plants went in early Sunday morning.
Strawbale gardens started by the Scheonherr family became a teaching tool incorporated into the kids’ garden.
Planting was the easiest part of the process and left plenty of room for chatting.
With everything planted, mulching and watering were the last tasks to complete.
After the hard work was done, we fired up the brick oven and celebrated with a pizza party.
Tired bodies were complemented by a great sense of satisfaction and a celebratory christening of Edible Estate #15.
This family is ready to break down stereotypes about life in the suburbs. Don’t you want to join them for their weekly community “Pizza Night in the Garden”?
John, Andrea, Catherine, and Aaron Schoenherr. All photos by Alison Malone.