CFANS will be matching all gifts made on this page up to $10,000.
The North Gate Commons is an expansion of Cornercopia, the University of Minnesota Student Organic Farm. This will be a gathering space for students, a venue for outdoor classes and workshops, a kitchen garden, and an area to showcase novel edible plants and innovative growing techniques. The North Gate Commons will be a community space for students within the University and beyond to learn about sustainable agriculture and food production through hands-on and experiential learning.
Who We Are
Cornercopia is the University of Minnesota’s student organic farm and living laboratory. It was founded in 2004 on student vision and initiative, beginning when two Horticulture students asked the question, “Why isn’t there anywhere on campus for us to grow plants organically?” Today, the farm has evolved into nearly 6 acres of certified organic land with a designated class (HORT 3131) where students are encouraged to realize bold ideas, take creative risks, and take part in planning, growing, and marketing for the farm. Every season the farm produces 100+ varieties of fresh fruits and vegetables, which are then sold at the U of M Farmer’s Market and used at the Campus Club. Through our formal and informal programs, Cornercopia prepares tomorrow’s agricultural leaders with skills to bring about positive, forward thinking food system change.
What’s the North Gate Commons?
The farm continues to grow by leaps and bounds every year, but with that growth we face new challenges. Cornercopia has become a hub of student activity and is utilized by college and high school students, staff, faculty, and community partners. It is a place that not only grows community within the University, but also extends beyond our borders to create relationships with the community around us. However, despite providing an array or opportunities for undergraduate learning, graduate student and faculty research, and community events, the existing farm lacks a central gathering space and workshop venue. This is where the North Gate Commons comes in.
The North Gate Commons is designed to be a gathering point. Adjacent to the Good Acre, a non-profit food hub for immigrant farmers, it will be able to serve as a bridge between the University and the surrounding community by being a place for learning, teaching, and gathering.
The plans for the North Gate Commons were designed by a professional landscape designer, and include several unique and exciting features:
- A central gathering plaza, walking paths, and meeting space under a pergola that can be used for classes, workshops, and student groups.
- Areas designated for students to try new growing techniques and novel crops.
- A salad wall and salad table.
- Moveable benches to allow for different group sizes and easy use for people of all abilities in the space.
- Art pieces related to sustainable food and agriculture and beautifully designed entryways to welcome visitors to the site.
- A kitchen garden that can help students from the University and Good Acre learn about where their food comes from and how it can be healthfully prepared.
The North Gate Commons will be a space that students and student organizations work together on exciting new projects and endeavors. It will be a place to bring high school students to show them the amazing things that students and researchers can do in sustainable agriculture. It will be a classroom for professors to show real world concepts related to sustainable agriculture and food systems. It will serve organizations such as the Good Acre and Master Gardeners as a large outdoor gathering space an easy-to-access location for hands-on learning for community members.
The North Gate Commons will be a place for learning, teaching, and gathering
What Am I Funding?
We’re starting simple: hardscaping. We’ve already done the pre-planning and we’ve got a design and quotes from local contractors. This campaign will fund the plaza and outdoor classroom, a small group area, and wheelchair accessible trails. See the full size design plan.
However, this isn’t the end of the road. Phase 2 includes purchasing plants and building structures such as a pergola. If we’re fortunate enough to raise more than our goal, it will go towards Phase 2. Our goal is to finish Phase 1 before winter 2017 so that Phase 2 can begin right away in the spring. We hope you will help us create a space that can benefit everyone involved with organic and sustainable plants at the U and in our community.