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An Indigenous-Led Team Is Transforming a Minneapolis Superfund Site into a New Urban Farm

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Cassandra Holmes. Photo by Drew Arrieta.

Cassandra Holmes is working to bring fresh, local food to the Little Earth of United Tribes community in East Phillips. Now, the city has brokered a deal that could rehabilitate the former superfund site and engage young residents.

By Kate Nelson
Civil Eats
July 18, 2023


In May, East Phillips residents struck a historic deal with the city to purchase a 7.6-acre site to develop a community-owned indoor urban farm, affordable housing complex, and gathering space. After nearly a decade of activism, they blocked the city’s highly contested plan to develop a former Roof Depot warehouse into a public works campus.

Now, they’ve been given the opportunity to transform the site into a thriving community hub. The activists have raised $3.7 million and have been promised funds from the state to complete the sale in 2024. But hurdles still remain. EPNI will oversee the renovation and buildout process, which will cost an estimated $22 million to $25 million with the first phase expected to be completed by summer 2025. In addition to a solar-powered high-tech indoor urban farm, the vision includes housing units, cultural markets, community gathering spaces, job training sites, and more.

Civil Eats spoke with Holmes recently about the long fight that led to this historic deal, the impact the urban farm will have on the Little Earth community, and EPNI’s vision for a healthier, more equitable future.

For East Phillips, we’ve been fighting a lot of things that aren’t good for us and winning. Although this one took longer, I knew the right thing was going to happen eventually. But I think for all of Minneapolis, the United States, and even the world—because we have a lot of people from other countries supporting us—it’s such a big deal because it shows that good things can happen when a community stands up together for their right to very basic human needs, like less pollution.

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