Through The Fargo Project, local government uses a participatory process to help community members identify needs and the response to these needs. With water as the vehicle for connecting people to the land, this approach intentionally encourages a collective creative response. The World Garden Commons at Rabanus Park is the first installation of The Fargo Project. Artists, neighbors, engineers, landscape architects, and ecologists collaborate to transform a neighborhood stormwater basin into an ecological community commons.
While the 18-acre basin continues to hold stormwater during summer rains, the neighborhood benefits by gaining acres of prairie, walking trails, gathering spaces, and a community garden. The effort is made possible through partnerships with ecological artist Jackie Brookner (1945-2015), a growing group of community partners, the City of Fargo, the Fargo Park District, and funding from ArtPlace America, The Kresge Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Our Town, and the North Dakota Outdoor Heritage Fund.
A local community gardening group of volunteers has a mission to provide a safe place for our New American neighbors. We operate 6 community gardens in the Fargo area that produced over 45,000 lbs of food in 2015. Growing Together offers other events that encourage integration including Community Table.
Fifth graders from West Fargo’s Westside Elementary created concepts for a natural play area that will also serve as a gateway into the basin. The design will evoke curiosity and encourage adults and children to explore World Garden Commons. The focal point of the natural play area will be a large tree encircled by logs for seating and climbing. Other features will include a tunnel, caves, bridges, a huge boulder, stepping stones, logs, and landscaping that encourages play.
At the center of World Garden Commons, the overall shape of the Listening Garden is based loosely on the shape of a human ear. It is meant to be an intimate place where one can listen to the natural sounds of the Commons: the grasses moving in the wind, the insects, the birds, the water; and where one can also “speak” back by making music with the slit drums. The log marimba adds a visual rhythm to the landscape.
Urban Ecology & Stormwater Basin Research – Natural Resources Management, NDSU
Current research at World Garden Commons has three major objectives: water quality, determining the best vegetation for future basins, and to assess the value neighbors, engineers, planners, artists and partners place on the aesthetics of developing an urban prairie.