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Harvesting community partnership at Four Sisters Farm

The story behind Four Sisters Farm is one of many partners coming together.

A few years ago, the strip of land between 18th and 19th avenues in the Phillips neighborhood wasn’t much to look at. There were some construction vehicles parked, some garbage, and it was a public safety headache.

Today, it’s a verdant green space filled with garden beds and community because of a concerted effort led by Hennepin County’s Midtown Community Works program and several local non-profit organizations.

“The exciting thing about this project is we had different goals different partners that all came together and intersected,” said Crystal Myslajek, principal planning analyst at Hennepin County.


Partners included the Native American Community Development Institute (NACDI), Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority (HCRRA)—which leased the land to NACDI at no cost—and the East Phillips Improvement Coalition (EPIC).

“I knew how difficult that plot, that exact site, could be,” said Robert Lilligren, CEO of NACDI. “But through conversation and dialogue we really decided that yes, this is very mission-aligned with NACDI.”

Residents overwhelmingly suggested that the land become an urban farm and green space. Other partners helped fund the update. Midtown Community Works invested roughly $120,000 to begin the process of transforming the three sites and building infrastructure. Funding from the City of Minneapolis’ Office of Violence Prevention also helped NACDI hire a food sovereignty coordinator to establish relationships with local stakeholders and begin community-based programming.

The partners broke ground in Spring of 2021, and have farmed, gathered, and continued to build on the site since. This fall, community gardeners picked their peppers, squash, and a bounty of flowers as partners work toward adding public art and figure out some tricks to keep the squirrels from nibbling the veggies.

EPIC president Nikolas Winter-Simat, who helped talk with neighbors about the space, said the transformation of the site is significant, and it’s all thanks to partners connecting with the community and working together.

“It’s just like those relationships with the natural world that we see, having those partners with organizations builds that resilient kind of ecosystem,” said Winter-Simat. “Seeing the county want to partner and really provide the space and the land, I think that was really exciting.”

To learn more about the farm or get involved in volunteering, visit NACDI’s website.