Inver Hills-Metro State Community Garden Seeking Republic Services Grant

Funds would go toward new and refurbished fencing to protect garden produce

Inver Hills Community College and Metropolitan State University have requested a $2,000 grant from Republic Services to maintain and enhance the success of a collaborative effort: the Inver Hills-Metro State Community Garden and Orchard. Rising populations of rabbits and other pests have severely damaged the Community Garden’s harvest and destroyed numerous fruit trees. The Community Garden would like to add new fencing for the garden’s unprotected areas and also refurbish damaged fencing that protects the garden’s perimeter.

About the grant…

(Courtesy of Republic Services)
Republic Services believes in making a positive impact in the communities where our customers and employees live and work. Because we are committed to creating a sustainable future for our customers and want to reward creative solutions that enrich our neighborhoods, we have created the Republic Services Community Grant Program, an extension of our Republic Rewards™ program.
The Community Grant Program was established to fund community enrichment programs and can be awarded to qualified 501(c)(3) charitable or 501(c)(19) veterans organizations, HOAs, schools and other groups who have active community projects that meet the criteria set forth below. Program grants are awarded based on votes cast through a dedicated Web page on by local residents participating in Republic Rewards™.
Republic Rewards™ is a recycling rewards program made available to Inver Grove Heights through Republic Services, your recycling and waste services provider. With Republic Rewards™, residents who sign up for the program can earn points for recycling, logging their recycling and reading educational articles that are posted on These points can be used as votes toward your favorite community project in the Republic Services Community Grant Program. The project that gains the most votes at the end of the grant period will receive up to $2,000 from Republic Services to implement its program if the project is new or continue its project if it is an existing one.

VOTE for the Inver Hills-Metro State Community Garden and Orchard *

* For Republic Rewards™ participants

Inver Hills-Metro State Community Garden and Orchard • October 3, 2016


Harvest Festival 2016

Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016 at the Inver Hills–Metro State Community Garden and Orchard
11 a.m. – 2 p.m. (rain date: Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016)

12:20 p.m. • Inver Hills Steelband/African Drum and Dance
1 p.m. • Kalpulli KetzalCoatlicue Aztec Dance Troupe

  • Hear live music
  • Snack on popcorn
  • Survey butterflies
  • Play games
  • Win raffles
  • Buy plants
  • Meet friendly goats

Co-sponsored by Inver Hills-Metro State Community Garden & Unidos Club

Harvest Festival 2015 on Flickr

Community Garden grant project details

Founded in 2012 by August Hoffman, Metro State psychology faculty, and Barb Curchack, Inver Hills psychology faculty, garden is an interdisciplinary, cooperative effort between Inver Hills Community College, Metropolitan State University and members of our community. Located on the Inver Hills campus, the Inver Hills-Metro State Community Garden and Orchard is a wonderful little spot nestled between the college and an oak savanna forest. Nature lovers and gardeners alike flock to the garden to enjoy the flowers or relax and be a part of the community.
The garden has three components:

  • Communal garden
  • Communal orchard
  • Community plots

The communal garden and orchard contain food plots and trees maintained by our volunteers, who are assisted by our staff. This season volunteers included 120 students, 40 faculty and staff, and 30 community members. Many volunteers are committed to the full season of work.
Sustainable techniques are practiced; no weed killer or pesticides are used. We produce University of Minnesota hybrid apples, perfect for this climate, that are genetically disease resistant. All green waste from the garden goes to our compost bins. Fruit and vegetables grown in the garden are donated to local food shelves in the area, including the Mobile Pantry that frequents our campus. In 2015, more than 1 ton of food was grown in the garden and donated.
The garden provides opportunities for hands-on learning experiences. Not only do students participate in day-to-day maintenance, but classes use the garden for lab activities, such as soil testing and experiments. The communal garden also functions as an outdoor classroom and performance space. It contains a small, handicapped-accessible amphitheater that seats 30. Administration, faculty and staff use this space to hold office hours, teach their classes and for other events such as concerts. Classes use the garden as reflective space, for creative writing inspiration, and as a place to showcase their visual art work.

Inver Hills-Metro State Community Garden and Orchard • October 3, 2016

The final component of our garden is the area with community plots. Thirty gardeners, residents of Inver Grove Heights and surrounding areas, grow their own food in 10 x 10 plots. Some gardeners choose to donate all they grow, and each plot has a wide array of veggies, plants and flowers. Former farmers, master gardeners and novice gardeners alike learn from each other to make this place come alive. Flowers surround massive tomatoes and cucumbers, making this spot one of the most beautiful and interesting place in our garden.
Our practices in the orchard and garden have been pesticide-free, but we have run into multiple pest problems. Rabbits and other creatures have wreaked havoc on our harvest, and have destroyed many trees. The damage has increased with time as pest populations soar. Strong, permanent fencing in this area is a must if we are to continue. Funds from the Republic Services Community Grant will support the installation of new fencing, and the replacement of the existing failing fence.
The Inver Hills-Metro State Community Garden and Orchard provides unique and valuable opportunities for our community. Any grant funds that allow us to continue and improve will be a positive investment in a sustainable community building endeavor.

Useful links

To learn more about the Inver Hills-Metro State Community Garden and Orchard, contact:

August Hoffman
Professor & Coordinator of Graduate Studies in Psychology
Metropolitan State University
Contact for info on community building, partnerships, donations.
Thad Ballestrazze
Garden Manager
Biology CLA
Inver Hills Community College
Contact for info volunteering, garden hours and work projects.
Kristin Digiulio
Biology Faculty
Coordinator, Agricultural Sciences
Inver Hills Community College
Contact for ideas on incorporating the garden into your curriculum, community group or club projects.

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