By Michelle M. Sharp, Founder and Content Creator of Meet the Minnesota Makers

The Black Radish is an urban oasis where sunflowers tower and ripe beans dangle in magical tunnels. Tucked into its south Minneapolis neighborhood, this farm fosters community through the weekly gathering of CSA pickup, the volunteers who make the work possible, and the yards that nourish local residents. 

Carrie Thompson and Jade Townsend have converted 15 yards into productive spaces that feed nearly 50 families a week through their CSA program. They also cultivate specialty produce for three restaurants including mini poblanos for Oro and pole beans for The Standish Cafe—located just down the street from their home and CSA pick up site.

Their application of regenerative agricultural practices and high-density plantings create a unique growing space. The Black Radish converts a food desert into a flourishing Eden that nourishes the community on many levels.

COMMUNITY BUILDERS

Lot by lot The Black Radish flips the narrative on how subdivided small spaces function. Urban lots don’t need to be spaces of consumption alone.  

In addition to raising organic vegetables, plucky chickens and their own two free-range kids, Carrie and Jade build community. Since founding their urban farm in 2018, they now distribute a 12-14 weekly share of organically-grown produce. “We’re amazed at how growing food in our urban area has brought so many people together,” said Carrie. 

“We wanted to do something that would bring our community together after years of working in the art world,” shared Jade. Living about a mile from George Floyd Square, Carrie and Jade sought to create a fruitful space for community healing. “The upheaval of the past few years really drove our mission to build something different, something for everyone to share,” said Jade. 

“I think building community and valuing nourishing food should be more important to us as a society,” explained Jade. “It takes work to get people to see that. It takes work to have people not just see their home as a financial investment but rather as an investment into their community.”

GROWING SOMETHING GOOD

Every Wednesday at CSA pickup their subscribers choose what they want from the harvest buffet housed in a tranquil air conditioned shed. The Black Radish donates all of their leftovers to the Sanneh Foundation for their Friday food pick up where they feed over 400 families a week. This donation is in addition to the five shares that the foundation purchased through  grant funding.

The Black Radish will soon expand its growing season thanks to low tunnels whose purchase was possible in part thanks to a grant from Homegrown Minneapolis. Carrie and Jade look forward to being able to grow more. 

“We’re not going to replace large-scale agriculture. This is another option. It’s more sustainable than driving produce across the country. Hyperlocal produce tastes better. You’re eating it almost right off the vine. The food is good. It’s good for you,” shared Jade. “There’s something community building about knowing that you’re eating food that was grown in your neighborhood. That’s pretty powerful.”

HOW TO CONNECT

Visit theblackradishmpls.com to learn about membership levels. Pricing reflects The Black Radish’s goal to provide equitable access to membership. Become a sponsor to enable the purchase of tools, additional plot acquisition and conversion, and a future greenhouse to extend their growing season. 

Contact Jade and Carrie [email protected] to get involved with their urban agricultural work.  

Follow The Black Radish on Facebook and Instagram to join Carrie, Jade and their kids on the Wednesday Rounds. 

Visit meettheminnesotamakers.com or follow @meettheminnesotamakers on Facebook and Instagram to discover the farmers and innovators working to strengthen Minnesota’s local food networks. Meet the Minnesota Makers is a news site that connects you to the local food, farms, artists and artisans that make Minnesota thrive.

This farm feature is published in partnership with Greener Pastures.

Read the full article on the Greener Pastures website. Greener Pastures is a blog, community, and activism hub in the upper midwest here to make everyday support of humane, sustainable agriculture easy and seamless with your lifestyle.

Photography by Sarah Carroll of Greener Pastures

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