Stories from the corner of 37th and Nicollet

Starting Seeds and Being a Seed Starter

April 2015

Those warm early spring-like days were tempting me to just pop a few seeds into the dark earth in hopes of getting a jump start on some fresh vegetables.  However, our recent dose of snow and cold was a good reminder that the March 22 equinox date may signify something with sunlight, but it doesn’t mark a spring planting date very well.  And so I wait.


I have also considered starting a few seeds indoors, but I know they will require my attention and care until they can find their way outside sometime in May, which feels like a lot of time to tend to fragile seedlings. And so I wait a bit more.


A few years ago my family chose to replace our front lawn grass with native plants.  After two springs of some tending, the native plants have now taken over the front and get along fine without us. These plants just go ahead and drop seed that sprouts when it knows to, and then just grow up alongside their parents to continue the cycle.  They seem to know when to wait and when not to, and their seedlings, while fragile, do just fine on their own.  Our backyard garden seeds on the other hand need an extra hand or two.  As they attempt to grow in conditions that most likely don’t resemble anything like their “natural” growing state, we, as gardeners, get to assist them to cope with their setting.  We provide fertilizing, watering, trellising, pruning, weeding, harvesting – none of which would have been necessary in their original environment.


I’ve been working on adding plants at my café, Butter Bakery.  I want to see plants flourishing around the café and hope to find more native plants that can fill in without a lot of attention.  I also am excited to again make the café’s boulevard garden beds available for community members to try out a bit of gardening if they don’t have garden space available where they live.  And this year, I intend to set up planters and garden beds on our Nicollet Avenue sidewalk patio to provide another growing space and a visual gift to those travelling along the 3700 block.  I think about these activities as “seeds” of another sort.


What I am really hoping to grow through these gardening activities is a belief that growing things in small spaces (or whatever space you have) is both possible and productive.  I want to be a seed that produces more garden beds along boulevards and patios in urban neighborhoods.  I want to be a seed that encourages butterfly and bee friendly habitats.  I want to be a seed that sprouts in front and back yards throughout the neighborhood.  And I want to be a seed that grows a desire to garden and grow things in people young and old who haven’t tried it before.


Having a public corner on a well-travelled thoroughfare is a blessing.  It has brought much more visibility to my café.  But it also carries a responsibility to present a public image and vision for what our neighborhood can be.  I hope that the seeds I plant in the gardens, planters, boulevards, and containers around the café this spring will inspire, enliven, and bring added vitality to the Lyndale and Kingfield Neighborhoods.  For several years now, I have written this column as a way to share how I am trying to run my business in a “green” way, but now I feel the urge to create that Green Path in a literal way along the corner of 37th and Nicollet. 


The best part is that it includes you.  All of these garden spaces and growing spaces are meant to be public.  You are invited to participate with me in preparing the seed beds, planting seeds and seedlings, tending to the plants, and sharing in the harvests.  I want you to know that these spaces are intended for your pleasure and enjoyment as you follow the growth, pick up the scents, learn about new plants, and benefit from how the café puts the plants into use in our kitchen.  I want to continue to help you build community through interactions with your neighbors, both on our corner and where you live or work.   Then you will be the seed for new growth.


Watch for notices about the 37th Street Boulevard Community Garden on the Butter Bakery Café Facebook page and on the café’s website. Or just stop by the café to learn about ways you can get connected.   And, as always, I am glad to meet you along the Green Path wherever it may lead us.