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Growing fresh, local, organic produce that is community* grown and community driven.

Over this past year, The Cornerstone Group has partnered with Backyard Harvest, a division of The Permaculture Research Institute, to develop medium-scale urban farming initiatives at the apartment communities in their portfolio. Our communities all house a wide range of cultures and ethnicities. Each community is unique and its character continues to evolve through organized site management and compassionate, innovative resident services providers. During the growing season, urban farmers, Dena and Stephan will be tending the farm for a few hours, twice a week. ECS has coordinated with the farmers to create a schedule for members of the community who want to get their hands dirty too. Each week, up to ten resident farmers will be able to lend a hand in tending the farm; whether weeding or harvesting sweet, heirloom tomatoes.

The Year at RTC Farm

Planting: During the fall, Backyard Harvest prepped a roughly 2,000 square foot plot of land in the back yard of Rivertown Commons in The Frogtown Neighborhood of St. Paul. They tilled up soil and covered it with straw, securing it for the winter. In the spring, the farmers returned to plant seeds and transplants, and build potato bins with residents and resident youth from the community.

Earth Day:

On April 22, 2010, the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, Rivertown Commons residents were joined by ECS, Shelter Corporation, and The Cornerstone Group to celebrate the urban farm. The event started with a resident cooking demonstration, sharing dishes from many different cultures. Resident youth were active in planting the farm, painting their own pots for seedlings and playing in the fresh air. In the afternoon, local chef and active Somali community organizer, Jamal Hashi led an outstanding cooking demonstration.

Fall Harvest:

In early August, Rivertown will celebrate its inaugural Fall Harvest. We will spend an afternoon celebrating our great accomplishments as a community, working together to raise a bounty of fresh, local organic produce. Residents will once again demonstrate cooking dishes with fresh produce from the farm. Twin Citiesʼ farmers and meat purveyors will provide local chicken and beef for grilling, and resident youth will be showcasing their work developing a CSA-based distribution system for farm harvest. This event will also introduce the urban farming initiatives planned for many other Cornerstone properties in 2011.

*Rivertown Commons is a 130-unit urban apartment development owned by The Cornerstone Group. Rivertown is managed by Shelter Corporation and resident services are provided by Episcopal Community Services (ECS).