For over ten years, we have worked with neighborhoods, cities, and so many other partners to install accessible and functional projects with their residents.
We partner with neighborhoods and cities to make it easier and less expensive for residents to get a raingarden in their yard, working with partners to create a program that fits each community best. This program builds community awareness about clean water projects and supports our partners in helping their communities create resilient landscapes. In a little over a decade, Neighborhood of Raingardens has brought well over 1000 raingardens and native plantings to dozens of Minneapolis neighborhoods and other nearby cities. You can see some examples in our project gallery.
A raingarden is very much like other plantings but with a few important differences. It is a shallow depression that captures rainwater runoff, intercepting and filtering runoff. Otherwise the water would flow down driveways, streets and sidewalks, collecting pollutants before entering storm drains that empty into nearby lakes and streams. A raingarden stores and absorbs rainwater, which is taken up by the long roots of native plants or soaks deep into the earth. These actions help to break down pollutants, cleaning the water.
Since they are typically planted with native plantings, raingardens provide habitat for pollinators and other wildlife. This includes Minnesota’s state bee, the endangered rusty patched bumble bee.
Raingardens are not only functional but also beautiful! Learn more about them on our Resources page.
How the program works
Typically, one of our designers does a yard consultation with the resident to find the best place for a raingarden and then creates a design. We order plants and schedule the work. A crew with Conservation Corps MN & Iowa (CCM) helps us with installation, including excavating and mulching the raingarden.
On plant pickup day, resident participants come and collect their plants. Then they do their own planting, using the design we created as a guide. This gives them an opportunity to get to know the new inhabitants in their yard. Through this unique process, residents play a vital role in protecting water quality, creating habitat, beautifying their neighborhood, and building a stronger community.
This is a cost-share program. Cities and neighborhoods pay a share of our work; in some cases they may be eligible for grants, and we can help them apply. Resident participants also pay a share, often part of the consultation fee and the cost of the plants. A large share is paid by a Clean Water Fund grant that covers the cost of the CCM crew (typical, though not guaranteed).
This program is adaptable
We can work with you to design the program that fits your community best:
- If your community wants a focus on protecting pollinators, this program is a great fit.
- If you would like to engage underserved community members such as residents who are low-income, Black, Indigenous or People of Color, we use an equitable approach to work with you to create a more inclusive program.
- We can offer a program for 5 participants, or 35.
Just ask us. Each program has its own flavor. One neighborhood gives a community tour of installed raingardens; another one recruited volunteers to help plant the gardens. We are fortunate to work with some neighborhoods year after year. In 2020 we worked in the following Minneapolis neighborhoods: Armatage, Corcoran, Kenny, Logan Park, Lynnhurst, Tangletown, Longfellow, Holland, Windom Park, Waite Park and Audubon. We also worked in the City of St. Louis Park.
“The team that was here yesterday did a FANTASTIC job. The mulched space looks great. This is a wonderful program. I’m looking forward to getting the plants in the ground later this month.Thank you all for the hard work!”
“…I must say, I am feeling proud to be a part of this year’s raingarden and native plantings initiative.”
“Thanks for your great communications. It was really a pleasure to come home Tuesday and see the much needed improvement. Please pass along my sincere thanks to the workers.”
This testimonial came with a photo: “I wanted to send along this photo of our wonderful new raingarden doing its job during the thunderstorm last week. We all really enjoyed watching it fill and drain during the downpour!”
We are looking for partners for 2021. If you think your city or neighborhood might be interested, contact Jennifer Moeller, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Metro Blooms creates conditions for community stakeholders to be meaningfully involved in creating more resilient landscapes that put equity, environmental justice, resilience and sustainability principles into practice. We work with local city government and partners to implement stormwater retrofit plans for each site. Typically these projects include installation of raingardens and other best management practices in stormwater, pollinator gardens and removal and/or replacement of ash trees. In response to resident feedback, these projects also often include livability elements such as playgrounds, shade, seating, and nature play. We approach affordable housing projects with an equitable engagement framework. Resident-centered design, installation, and training ensures that decision-making power is shared with residents and the knowledge to care and advocate for the project lies within the community. This project improves water quality, mitigates localized flooding on site, creates pollinator habitat, enhances livability and provides ongoing education and job-training opportunities for residents and management. Find out more by reading this blog post on equitable engagement or this one on a project in Brooklyn Park.
Learn more about the equitable engagement framework.
The Boulevard Bioswales project engages residents in North Minneapolis to convert their traditional turfgrass boulevards into plantings that will improve water quality and provide food for pollinators. We partner with local community organizations and volunteer “boulevard captains” to recruit and engage project participants. In addition to improving the ecological resilience of the neighborhood, this project beautifies the landscape through the planting of flowers, and strengthens the community by bringing neighbors together to work on this project. Metro Blooms partners with local contractors and youth groups to create job opportunities for installing and planting the bioswales.
In 2019, Metro Blooms installed over 6,000 square feet of boulevard bioswales throughout North Minneapolis, working with 37 residents to install beautiful, eco-friendly plantings, while strengthening social connections between participants. Read this blog post about it.
The program is currently not active. In the future, we hope to expand the project to include more residents in the community.