Urban Roots helps the University of St. Thomas

When a community nurtures its youth, it strengthens its roots and feeds its prospects for the future” - Urban Roots

Our community impacts many aspects of our lives, including our social and physical health, our personal philosophy, and our future prospects. Programs that engage and inspire young people in community activities are particularly important for creating vibrant places to live. One noteworthy local example of such a program is Urban Roots, a non-profit organization in St. Paul that provides community development services and offers internships to local youth. This summer, our Stewardship Science program at the University of St. Thomas has had the opportunity to team up with Urban Roots on an urban agriculture research project called “Growing Science”. Here we introduce the program and our two Urban Roots interns, Stephanie Worden and Daniel Yang.

Daniel Yang and friend working in Urban Roots' "Root for the Home Team" program

Daniel Yang and friend working in Urban Roots’ “Root for the Home Team” program

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The transformative potential of the Urban Flower Field

On a sunny mid-summer Saturday morning, a crowd gathered in St. Paul’s new Urban Flower Field to drink lemonade and paint field stones. Over 100 people wandered down from the corner of 10th and Robert streets to walk around the space, now greening up as wildflowers germinate across the site.Blog post 1-1

The Urban Flower Field is a collaboration between Public Art St. Paul, artist in residence Amanda Lovelee, and a research project by Hunter Gaitan, Liz Scherber and Adam Kay of the University of St. Thomas. The research is focused on assessing whether plant biodiversity can help in the remediation of contaminated soils, a process known as phytoremediation. In 96 plots that spiral Continue reading

What is Stewardship Science?

Stewardship Science is environmental research that combines scientific discovery with community service. “Stewardship” is often used to refer to human management of nature. Here, we use the term to define activities that enrich human communities by strengthening their connection to natural systems. Stewardship Science aims to generate results that impact the field of environmental science while at the same time creating products that help members of our community.

Our Stewardship Science projects illustrate this connection between environmental research and community service. The UST Stewardship Garden, our flagship project, has explored how conventional vs. organic fertilizer influences the effect of crop diversity on yield. The project is set in a community garden, and produce is donated to local food shelves. The Corner Store Procurement Project combines agriculture research with service to the Minneapolis Healthy Corner Store Initiative, a project aiming to increase access to fresh vegetables in low-income neighborhoods. The Urban Flower Field project is using wildflowers to test whether plant biodiversity can increase uptake of harmful toxins from local soils.

Together, these projects aim to address environmental problems, provide community service, and engage students and community members. We are very interested in forging connections with community organizers, gardeners, teachers, artists, and other citizens that are interested in building a more just and environmentally sustainable community. We think there are numerous ways to expand the Stewardship Science program, and we welcome collaborators interested in making a difference.

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Questions? Send them to adam kay (adkay@stthomas.edu)