Nokomis East Neighborhood Association

Our Giving Garden


Eight years ago, Nokomis East Neighborhood Association worked with the community to create the Giving Garden. The Nokomis East Neighborhood Association’s Gateway Garden and Nokomis Naturescape had been so successful that the environment committee decided to create a similar garden, but instead of working as a community to help our local pollinators, this garden would grow fruits and vegetables for our local food shelves.
This garden has been volunteer-run and consistently provided 500-600 pounds of food to both the Minnehaha Food Shelf and Nokomis Food Shelf since its inception. Heidi Davis, garden volunteer and member of the Nokomis East Giving Garden Committee, has been working in the garden since it began and has been part of a group that ensures it runs smoothly. Watching Heidi calmly pull weeds in what felt like a green oasis in the middle of our city provided a clear sense of calm for me. “Every year, it feels like a miracle when things come up,” she said humbly. Last year, she doubled the garden’s output by growing 1,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables for our food shelves. She said she did this because she planted more tomatoes later in the season, as last year we had a drought. “I was astounded – I think we can get it even higher,” she stated. Heidi pointed out that although we often measure food by weight, not all vegetables weigh a lot. To be able to provide our community with local healthy food is clearly her biggest priority.
How does the garden committee decide what to grow? They ask the food shelves what their guests would like to see. A simple survey to show which foods would be culturally relevant, easy to cook and serve, and nutritious, goes a long way. This is why she does not simply measure her success in pounds – she also measures it in nutrients and how it is received.
This year, the garden is run by a committee of five people and has a group of 40 volunteers. “Many hands make light work and many people pitch in,” Heidi said. She observed that like her, people often sign up to come in after work to pull weeds and water the garden. She described having a purpose and a soothing thing to do before heading home at the end of the day. She has been doing this for eight years. When I asked her how she was able to do this for so long, she pointed to all of the global catastrophes occurring. Then she pointed to her oasis. “I know I can affect right here," she said referring to our community, “…and if you have something, share it.” This year she’s installing a drip irrigation system to help the garden grow larger and save water. She clearly does her research and wants to have the best outcome for both people and the environment.
About three years ago, the garden moved to Trinity Lutheran Church. “The church has been so wonderful. Everything we propose, they ask, ‘how can we help you?’” she said, then began listing all of the ways they have helped, including building a beautiful sign so people walking by can see what the garden is for. When asking her about future plans outside of the new irrigation system, she pointed to some overgrowth behind the garden and said maybe there’d be raspberry bushes, native flowers, and perennials.
“I don’t know if people know, but they can donate to the food shelf from their own garden,” Heidi pointed out. “Prices of vegetables are so high. Everything is appreciated.” She said most of the food goes to the Minehaha food shelf, but a large part of it also goes to the Nokomis East Food Shelf. “We would love to have more volunteers; we would love to have more people,” she said about the garden. If you’re interested in volunteering, email


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