AARP AARP States Minnesota Livable Communities

2020 Community Challenge Grantee: Project Food Forest

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Project Food Forest has been named a recipient of a 2020 AARP Community Challenge grant, one of four grantees selected in Minnesota. With this grant, Project Food Forest will be making improvements to the Prairie Ally Outdoor Center by adding three commissioned sculptural trellises and two circular picnic tables. 

The city of Luverne, along with Rock County, struggles with accessing fresh, sustainable food. The county is classified as a food desert because the area is low-income and has low-access to food. Project Food Forest works to combat this issue and it encourages, empowers, and equips people to plant and care for edible plants all over. By planting public food forests, designing low-maintenance edible landscapes for clients, and educating citizens through classes, the city of Luverne and the entire county can have more security when it comes to accessing food. 

"The project will build on Project Food Forest’s efforts to connect people to where their food comes from and inspire them to grow their own. We acknowledge the harm that has been caused as a result of post-colonial industrial agriculture, particularly to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities and the environment", said President of Project Food Forest, Kimberly Rockman. "Through this project, we hope to showcase literal pieces of our agricultural past and connect it to the present by inspiring the next generation of growers and land stewards who have the opportunity to build a more equitable and regenerative food system", she added.

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Project Food Forest in Luverne, MN

This initiative is part of the largest number of Community Challenge grants to date with more than $2.4 million awarded among 184 organizations nationwide. Grantees will implement “quick-action” projects to create more livable communities across all 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. All projects are expected to be completed by December 18, 2020, and are designed to achieve one or more of the following outcomes:

  • Create vibrant public places by improving open spaces and parks and activating main streets. 
  • Deliver a range of transportation and mobility options by increasing connectivity, walkability, bikeability, wayfinding, and access a wider range of transportation choices. 
  • Encourage the availability of a range of housing by increasing accessible and affordable housing solutions. 
  • Increase civic engagement and demonstrate the tangible value of “Smart Cities” by bringing together local leaders and residents from all backgrounds to address challenges. 
  • Support coronavirus response and recovery efforts by ensuring older adults’ access to information, essential services, and civic life. 

 “We are incredibly excited to support Project Food Forest as they work to make immediate improvements in Luverne, encourage promising ideas and jumpstart long-term change,” shared AARP Minnesota State Director, Will Phillips “Our goal at AARP Minnesota is to support the efforts of our communities to be great places for people of all backgrounds, ages and abilities and the coronavirus pandemic has only underscored the importance of this work.”

If anyone has special pieces from farm equipment or garden tools they would like Proejct Food Forest to consider incorporating into a sculpture, please contact the team at 605-951-0227 or info@projectfoodforest.or by October 1. 

Other Minnesota grantees include the Philando Castile Peace Garden, District 6 Planning Council, and East Side Freedom Library, all in St. Paul. The full list of grantees can be found at www.aarp.org/communitychallenge

The Community Challenge grant program is part of AARP’s nationwide Livable Communities initiative, which helps communities become great places to live for residents of all ages. View an interactive map of all of the Community Challenge projects and AARP Minnesota’s livable communities work at www.aarp.org/livable.

For more information on Project Food Forest, visit https://projectfoodforest.org/

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