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

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18 Responses to “Faribault’s secret garden grows community connections & pride”

  1. Marneymae Says:

    Omigosh & wow & awe
    I love this sweet garden!
    So much care & life & welcome.
    Friendly place, friendly space. & the ruby-throated hummingbird is spectacularly whimsical.
    The garden seems to hold both a personal quality at the same time as being welcoming & open.
    How generous to have the bench available as a place for respite or lunch!

  2. Beth Ann Says:

    Another wonderful place for respite during a day that wonderful hands have created. These are the things that make a difference in a community. The sisters have done well.

  3. Almost Iowa Says:

    Cities need more of these.

  4. Dee Bjork Says:

    It was a simple solution to a long time neglected area. It brings joy to the neighborhood. Yesterday morning as I was doing some cleaning in Michelle’s Garden, Eddie my favorite downtown dog made his daily stroll on by. The garden brings people together!

  5. Ann Vohs Says:

    Thank you Audrey for your lovely stories and positive message. You have such a gentle, loving spirit!

  6. hotlyspiced Says:

    It’s really beautiful and serene, Audrey, and what a great use of a little space. I’m super-impressed with how she’s planted a vegetable garden – makes me wonder why I haven’t when I have 10 times the space! xx

  7. lovely, Audrey.
    Thank you for showing us the beauty you see
    E V E R Y W H E R E.

    xx

  8. All of your photos are great but I love the window garden. What a great way to dress up a dull window.

  9. Katie Says:

    What an absolutely lovely garden space! Each inch is utilized so well. I am curious as to what the dimensions are.


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