Approximately 275 community gardens exist throughout the city of Minneapolis. These spaces provide residents with the opportunity to grow their own produce.
How the City Supports Community Gardening
2016 Garden Lease Program Information
New commercial garden policies and criteria for leasing City-owned vacant lots for market gardens or urban farms.
The City's Community Garden Pilot Program enables specific City lots to be leased for community gardens. The City of Minneapolis supports community gardens in its commitment to promote access to good nutrition, improve the ecological footprint of the city, encourage active and healthy living, and provide spaces for human interaction, food production and beauty in our daily lives.
The City of Minneapolis now has more than 100 vacant lots available for qualifying groups to lease for community gardening. If one of these lots is leased by a community garden, the City will assist in testing the soil for lead and other potential contaminants. Sites with contaminants above allowable levels will be required to utilize raised bed gardens.
A qualifying group is a not-for-profit or a group of gardeners with a not-for-profit sponsor, including neighborhood organizations, planning to operate a community garden. The garden will need to have liability insurance. Applicants should be ready to discuss the layout of the garden, how it will be managed and how it will engage and benefit the community.
In addition to community gardens on these City-owned lots, there are other community gardens throughout the city. Gardening Matters can assist with finding an existing community garden in your neighborhood or finding liability insurance.
The Homegrown Minneapolis Food Council has also created an interactive map of all residentially zoned vacant lots in Minneapolis, both publicly and privately owned, as of early 2015. The City zoning code allows community gardens and small market gardens to locate on residentially zoned land.
Zoning and Development Standards
Visit our Zoning for Urban Agriculture page for information about zoning and development standards for community gardens.
Composting and Soil Health Resources
Visit our Composting and Soil Health page to learn about the City's Community Garden Compost Program, other composting options for Minneapolis residents, and resources for rain barrels and compost bins.
Through the 2016 Community Garden Compost Program, Minneapolis Solid Waste and Recycling is offering low-cost or no-cost compost to registered community gardens. Compost is provided on a first-come, first-served basis. However, community gardens that have never received compost, have poor soil quality, or are start-up gardens will get priority.
Hydrant Water Permits
The Water Works Permit Office issues garden water permits to community gardens and urban farms to access a specific fire hydrant for their garden or farm when there is no other water option available. The garden must have legal documentation from owner giving permission to use land. These permits are issued seasonally. The water usage is metered and paid for during the growing season.
This fact sheet outlines the process for accessing City water to irrigate your garden.
Hydrant permit application and regulations
For further questions please call (612) 673-2865 or write to:
Minneapolis Water Treatment and Distribution
Room 224, Public Service Center
250 South 4th Street
Minneapolis, MN 55415
Minnesota Brownfields has funding to help clean up properties to become community gardens
Minnesota Brownfields received Environmental Response Fund funding in 2014 to provide small grants for environmental assessment and clean-up of property in contamination levels at proposed redevelopment and community garden sites. The fund is intended to be used for unexpected environmental issues, to prepare for a larger funding request in the County testing cycle, or to identify/clarify and, in some cases, remediate suspected environmental concerns. Grants are awarded on a rolling basis. Eligible community garden sites must be either owned or controlled by a public entity or a nonprofit organization. The application (pdf) asks for city approval, but formal authorization was passed by the City Council on May 13, 2011, so Minneapolis community garden applicants do not need to take additional steps to provide it.
For private property, soil testing for lead, salt and other nutrient tests can be completed by sending soil samples into the University of Minnesota’s Soil Testing laboratory as described on their website. Lead testing costs $15.
- Lawn/Garden & Professional Turf Tests
- Farm/Commercial Horticultural Fields Tests
- Soil Testing Form with Prices
- Minneapolis Park Board Community Garden Information Sheet (pdf)
- Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Urban Agriculture Activity Plan
- Land 101 PowerPoint presentation (pdf)
- References to Community Gardens in the City’s Comprehensive Plan (pdf)
- Gardening Matters
- Local Food Resource Hubs, an initiative of the City of Minneapolis, community partners, and Gardening Matters.
- Minnesota State Horticultural Society's Minnesota Green Program
- University of Minnesota Extension- Yard and Garden Resources
- American Community Gardening Association
- National Gardening Association
- Do It Green! Minnesota
Leasing a City-Owned Lot for Community Gardening
The application to lease City lots for gardens in 2016 will be released the first week of January. There will be a new process in 2016, with an application and timeframe followed by a rolling deadline for any lots that remain unleased after the application process is complete.
Last updated May 16, 2016