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Master Gardeners, 30 Years of Partnership With Habitat

Posted by John Hagerman on 9:48 AM on July 13, 2016

When a tornado plowed across North Minneapolis in May of 2011, it left devastated homes and downed trees in its wake. Today, on many blocks that were in the path of the tornado, there are few signs of the storm’s destruction. Instead, there are rebuilt homes, new roofs and growing trees that replaced the hundreds that were toppled. 

Twin Cities Habitat, along with many other organizations like, Jordan Area Community Council, Northside Achievement Zone, and Thrivent Financial, partnered with the neighborhood to help it rebuild and recover. Recently, one of Habitat’s partners, Master Gardeners, put the finishing touches on a Habitat home in the Jordan neighborhood. It's one of hundreds Master Gardeners have done in their 30-year partnership with Habitat. Their efforts transform newly constructed houses into homes that look lived in and loved.

Construction on this home started in 2015. Habitat volunteers built a LEED Gold home to replace one severely damaged by the tornado. New homeowners, Pang and Jeng, worked alongside volunteers to build the home for their five children. Putting in Wall Raisingsweat equity hours while raising five children, working full-time, and completing a college education, was a challenge. For Pang and Jeng, seeing their kids thrive made it worth the effort. The family moved into the home in January.

When spring arrived, the home’s exterior looked bare. The home was cute and fresh, but there were no plants or gardens. There was nothing that told passersby that this was a home, not just a house. That’s where Master Gardeners entered the picture.

Early this spring, four Master Gardeners visited the home to measure the lot and discuss landscaping options. They found very receptive partners in Pang and Jeng, who both came from families that loved gardening. Both took active roles in planning the landscaping of their home. 

After the meeting, the Master Gardeners went to work, keeping in mind Pang and Jeng’s tastes and needs. They drew up detailed plans to have 90 percent drought resistant plants, a rain garden, and even strawberry plants as a treat for the children. They then met with the family for final approval. 

The Master Gardeners and a big crew of Habitat volunteers showed up on planting day. The volunteers, Pang and Jeng, and their children, eagerly followed the gardeners' directions to bring the landscaping plan to life. They put in hydrangeas, physocarpus and hostas along the front porch and a weeping crabapple tree in the front yard. They planted yellow roses and raspberry plants around the garage. Around the back porch hydrangeas, hostas, astilbe and Russian cypress found a home. All the plants were Minnesota grown and donated by Bailey Nurseries, one of Habitat's generous suppliers.

Most impressively, the group installed a rain garden in the backyard that included Siberian iris, sedum, reed grass and a native grass. A rain garden is designed to capture runoff rainwater in a landscaped depression. This allows water to soak into the ground instead of simply running off into the streets or filling storm drains.

The happy homeowners will be the first to say that having a beautifully landscaped yard makes them feel like they're really putting down roots in their new home. They repeatedly thanked the Master Gardeners and all the volunteers, for helping give their home that “lived in and loved” beauty.

To learn more about the Master Gardener's program, follow this link. To learn more about how you can involved as a volunteer, click on the image below.

Volunteer with Habitat

Tags: Volunteer Spotlight, Habitat Homebuilding, Thrivent, Archive

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