Minneapolis is opening up 12 vacant lots across the city to groups that will turn them into community gardens, because a lot strewn with tomatoes and strawberries sure beats one strewn with empty McDonald's cups.

There's a long tradition of using empty space in cities for community gardens, and these programs can go wonky when the city decides the land's more valuable as a condo of office building. Minneapolis ran into this problem back in 2002. But the good news about these new plots is that the city has determined that they're "non-buildable," which means that if all goes well the gardens will have the chance to flourish long-term. Nonprofit groups with experience can get three- to five-year leases on the lots, and newbies can get one-year leases.

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