Garden rises from vacant lot

Allan Blanks/MDN Members of the Magic City Lions transformed their adopted lot into a pollinator garden with hopes of saving a declining bee and butterfly population.

Tremendous potential was hailed by community leaders and volunteers during the inaugural Adopt-A-Lot program hosted on the 1500 block of East Burdick Expressway, Tuesday morning.

Partnerships between Minot Young Professionals, City of Minot, Minot Park District and AmeriCorps VISTA, aspire to create a healthier and more prosperous future for the Magic City.

Megan Laudenschlager, the president of Minot Young Professionals, is excited to see the successful launch of the Adopt-A-Lot program.

“It feels great that so many community organizations have become involved in maintaining this lot,” Laudenschlager said. “We have nine organizations that are committed to growing fruits, vegetables and pollinator gardens. The food will go towards food pantries and the pollinator garden will help save our bee and butterfly population.”

Sharing Laudenschlager’s enthusiasm is Resilience AmeriCorps VISTA worker Colin Hendrickson.

Allan Blanks/MDN From left, community leaders and organizers Robert Davis, Andrianna Betts, Megan Laudenschlager, Jessica Henderson and Colin Hendrickson stand together during the inaugural Adopt-A-Lot program located on the 1500 block of East Burdick Expressway, Tuesday morning.

Hendrickson, a native of Illinois, is delighted to work side-by-side with local volunteers as well as members of Minot Air Force Base and community organizations.

“People are committed to their hometown and they are committed to Minot,” Hendrickson said. “It is a good feeling to know that people care about this community enough that they want to see something change.”

As poverty and hunger become increasing concerns in Minot, Hendrickson revealed that CHS SunPrairie has agreed to donate everything they grow in their adopted lot to food pantries across the city.

With the need for food donations on the rise, Robert Davis, planning director for the City of Minot, believes Adopt-A-Lot can save lives.

“There’s a term that planners use called food deserts,” Davis said. “A lot of low- to moderate- income areas don’t have access to healthy food. For example, if there is a corner store in the neighborhood, they probably sell pop, potato chips and candy. It is very difficult for families, let alone those in the low to moderate income bracket, to have access to healthy food. This program provides healthy food and encourages social cohesion. If we can copy this program across the city, this could be a very nice opportunity to help a lot of people.”

In addition to adopting lots to decrease hunger, the Magic City Lions have chosen to adopt a lot to increase the bumble bee and butterfly population.

Throughout the 1500 block of East Burdick Expressway are pollinator gardens designed to save the endangered species.

Housed in the number one honey producing state in the U.S., the Magic City Lions hope their adopted lot saves the bees while helping North Dakota retain its buzzworthy claim to fame.

“I hope this garden helps the bees and butterflies,” said Susanne Hoskin, safety and training coordinator at SRT. “We hope that the community finds out about this lot and will come through with their kids. Everyone has stepped up and we love the community feel of this project.”

Volunteers alongside community organizations Little Bear Daycare, Minot Commission on Aging and the Minot Lions Club have great faith in the potential of the Adopt-A-Lot program.

From reducing crime, beautifying neighborhoods and increasing property values, the possibilities appear promising.

However, without proper care, Adopt-A-Lot may struggle to grow into fruition.

Certified master gardeners Deb Fauske and Jessica Marshall, are members of the NDSU Master Gardener Club. Their hope is to provide helpful insight and resources that assist communities properly care for their neighborhood gardens.

“Many hands make light work and everyone can have a great time,” Marshall said.

According to Fauske, gardening is a fun activity which requires a serious commitment.

“Without everyone being committed, a garden will not last very long,” Fauske said. “We have a lot of practical experience and while we may not know all the answers, we’re committed to helping people find the answers.”

Adrianna Betts, a Resilience AmeriCorps VISTA worker, hopes the Adopt-A-Lot program continues to rise above challenges and achieves its maximum potential.

“This is the inaugural year but we’re hopeful that this program will be able to continue in the future,” Betts said. “We hope that other underutilized lots can be transformed into a community asset.”


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