It’s a simple approach with a potentially profound impact: ensuring quality, nourishing food is bountiful and plentiful through all landscapes — urban, rural and all points in-between.
In recent years, an all-hands-on-deck project known as the Little Free Garden has been sprouting up in a number of locales across the U.S. The effort offers the basic infrastructure for creating small, community-based gardens.
Moorhead, Minnesota-based Food of the North is the organization behind Little Free Garden. The Fargo-Moorhead area has long been a hotbed of agriculture and has been noted for having some of the most fertile lands in the country.
The grassroots group sums up its mission statement this way: “We believe food can change the world. Our mission is to celebrate, connect and empower our local food community.”
The simple, mission-driven nature of Little Free Garden is similar to the literacy-focused Little Free Library program that offers up small wooden structures as a home for people to give and receive books of all types.
While there is no organizational lineage between Little Free Garden and Little Free Library, the same fortifying give-and-take spirit is woven throughout both efforts.
How it works
Little Free Garden organizers have a number of catchphrases interspersed throughout their literature, one being, “Little box, big mission.” Participants have the opportunity to register a specific space, which is featured on the website. Other tools, such as starter kits, are also available for purchase.
According to the most up-to-date mapping tool on its website, there are nearly 300 Little Free Garden sites across the U.S., with the largest grouping near Food of the North’s headquarters in the Fargo-Moorhead area.
Little Free Garden has few prerequisites for qualification. Designated spaces typically are small and can be placed within residential or public spaces. The openness of sharing the crop is at the heart of the program.
Ultimately, the organization encourages participants to plant the gardens in highly visible spaces. If a residential plot is the preferred method, having it in the front yard is the encouraged option for ease of access.
How it got started
It’s no secret food is one of the key components to community. After all, eating is something we all do, regardless of our age, background, or walk of life.
According to the founders, the seeds for Little Free Garden were planted out of the desire for deeper human connection — alongside the more overt goal of combating food deserts and similar phenomena that have challenged obesity and other health conditions that have been on the rise.
“We believe that the real magic happens outside the garden and in the lives of the people and communities it calls home,” a passage on the website states.
It continues, “Whether your Little Free Garden gives you the chance to talk with your neighbors, meet someone new on the sidewalk or share your harvest with friends, we believe that the connections created by growing food together is what sets our experience apart from the rest.”
The three founders of Little Free Garden — Jeff Knight, Megan Myrdal and Gia Rassier — say they hope the project will bring a back-to-basics approach to agriculture and the importance of quality food systems.
“We also believe the gardens provide a starting place to imagine a new agricultural system — one in which all people have access to good food, power, decision-making and opportunity,” they write.