Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Faribault’s secret garden grows community connections & pride September 3, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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IT’S AMAZING WHAT YOU CAN DO with a small space snugged between buildings along an alley.

Michelle's Garden, right next to the alley behind buildings along Faribault's Second Street and Central Avenue.

Michelle’s Garden, right, next to the alley behind buildings along Faribault’s Second Street and Central Avenue.

Faribault businesswoman Dee Bjork and team, including sisters Ann Vohs and Beth Westerhouse, created Michelle’s Garden several years ago. It’s an unexpected green space between concrete and brick—a place for gardening and hanging out among plants and flowers.

The back of The Crafty Maven is right across the alley from the garden.

The back of The Crafty Maven is right across the alley from the garden.

It’s a delight, a Secret Garden, unless you are privy to its presence or happen to drive through the alley behind the sisters’ businesses, The Crafty Maven and Vohs Floors.

That's Michelle's portrait hanging above the dining space in the garden.

That’s Michelle’s portrait hanging above the dining space in the garden.

Up close detail on the recently-painted posts. I love this artwork.

Up close detail on the recently-painted posts. I love this artwork.

The garden is in an alley space in the heart of historic downtown Faribault.

The garden is in an alley space in the heart of historic downtown Faribault.

Michelle’s Garden honors Michelle, who lives downtown with her family. Dee wanted a special place for kids like Michelle, whom she mentors.

The garden even includes a raised bed for veggies and flowers.

The garden even includes a raised bed for veggies and flowers.

Tomatoes are among the vegetables growing in pots.

Tomatoes are among the vegetables growing in pots.

Plants fill pots and, to the right, you can see the edge of a bike rack.

Plants fill pots and, to the right, you can see a bike rack.

I am impressed with all that’s packed into this mini garden. Flowers in the ground and in pots. Vegetables in the ground, pots and a raised bed. A bike rack. Art. A bench. Table and chairs.

This sign hangs on the garden gate.

This sign hangs on the garden gate.

There's even a picket fence around a section of Michelle's Garden.

There’s even a picket fence around a section of Michelle’s Garden.

Open the gate and follow the hosta lined path to a bench.

Open the gate and follow the hosta lined path to a bench.

A lavender trellis pops colorful art into the garden.

A lavender trellis pops colorful art into the garden.

You can lunch here and read here and dream here and garden here.

Greenery abounds.

Greenery abounds.

It’s perfect. A nook. A green space. A welcoming respite in the most unexpected of places.

Even this window is incorporated into the garden with a windowbox.

Even this window is incorporated into the garden with a windowbox.

But it’s much more. Michelle’s Garden represents what a community can do when individuals care, when people connect, see a need and fill that need. This garden is very much a community project that has involved more than the three sisters.

A banner welcomes all.

A banner welcomes all.

We can each make a difference, if we choose to take action. And in so doing, we build a sense of community and community pride.

FYI: Click here to learn about the Second Street Garden, an extension of Michelle’s Garden which was recently awarded a $500 Faribault Foundation Community Pride Grant.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling