Category Archives: Volunteer Spotlights

Target Volunteers Plant Raingarden in Phillips Neighborhood

Many thanks goes out to the five Target volunteers who joined Metro Blooms for an afternoon of planting! It was a beautiful Friday afternoon to be working outside, and the group’s energy was palpable. With their help, over 800 individual holes were dug and then filled with native plants.

Metro Blooms landscape designer Andy shows the group his vision before getting started.

Local landscape company Earth Wizards restored the two raingardens and brought Metro Blooms on to lead a volunteer planting in front of and behind the Bii Di Gain Dash Anwebi Elder Housing in the Phillips Neighborhood. The gardens are designed to intercept runoff from the building’s sidewalk, roof and parking lot before the water finds its way through storm sewers and into the Mississippi River. They will also supply local pollinators with habitat and food, and provide the building’s residents with the opportunity to enjoy native plants and wildlife.


Hard at work.











If you or your business would like to help at one of Metro Blooms’ installations in the future, email


John Bly is a MN GreenCorps member serving with Metro Blooms

Volunteer Spotlight: Greg Silverman and the EvaluateIt Mobile App Team

Greg first heard about Metro Blooms when he met Bob Wolk and his wife Debby at a High Tea hosted by Adam Majewski. When Bob learned that Greg was interested in native gardening, he convinced Greg to join the Metro Blooms board. In March 2012, Becky Rice suggested that Greg instead utilize his technical skills and help build a mobile app to be used for the Minneapolis Garden Evaluation program, which he has been working on since. Greg enjoys being a volunteer for Metro Blooms because of their environmental mission. His passion for clean water has grown with the work he has done with Metro Blooms and he was able to seamlessly blend this with the work he is currently doing as a Master Water Steward candidate.

gms_breitbachHe says that working on the app project has sharpened his technical skills, which has made him more marketable. Greg obtained his current job as a Senior Developer, in part, as a result of the mobile app project. In Greg’s professional work for the Division of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Minnesota, he defines the business requirements for projects requiring computer based solutions. He then implements these requirements into a final “product” using whatever computer programming methods are needed. Previously, Greg worked for the School of Public Health for 12 years. Greg is very happy with his current job because he enjoys the freedom of the research environment at the University and is glad that the work he does will ultimately help others.

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Volunteer Spotlight: Bob Wolk

Bob Wolk joined Metro Blooms’ team of volunteers in 2008. As someone who likes to constantly reinvent himself, he’s taken on many different roles to support Metro Blooms over the years. Like all our volunteers, he started somewhere, and that was by participating in the Minneapolis Garden Awards program in 2007. After receiving a water bill insert about the program, he nominated his own garden and received a recognition for it.  This motivated him to be a better gardener, and earn a higher recognition the following year.


He also became a Blooms Day volunteer then, and starting working with raingarden workshops. One thing led to another and he is now serving as a member of Metro Blooms’ Board of Directors.

Bob has been living in the Lynnhurst neighborhood of Minneapolis with his wife Debby for the last 15 years. They moved there after their four children left the nest. Without the parenting responsibilities, they suddenly had ample time to delve into gardening, which they had been doing since then. A major highlight for Bob and Debby, both as a couple and as gardeners, was their 50th anniversary celebration in 2009.

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Volunteer Spotlight: Marcella Grandpre

PhotoMarcella Grandpre is a life-long gardener and longtime supporter of Metro Blooms. She became a volunteer in 2005 when a master gardener told her about us. She became a garden evaluator right away for the Minneapolis Garden Awards Program, eventually also helping choose the best gardens in the City. Born in the Bavaria region of Germany, Marcella came to Minnesota with her family when she was young. She grew up in the Linden Hills neighborhood in Minneapolis, which she still calls home today. She’s always loved the area and raised her family there. Before retiring, she was a social worker focused on child development.


Marcella’s journey as a gardener started when she was young. Both her parents gardened as she grew up, so she had a lot of exposure early on. This became an inspiration for her as an adult. She’s been gardening since she moved into her home in Linden Hills thirty years ago. Currently, she has a variety of gardens, both indoors and outdoors. In her backyard she has a ‘natural garden,’ something she describes as not neatly organized or decorated. Inside her house, she keeps ‘mini gardens’ that allow her to garden year-round.

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Volunteer Spotlight: Barb Gasterland

Barb Gasterland is one of our longtime volunteers. She started out as a garden evaluator in 2005, when her interest in a raingarden movement happening at the time led her to Metro Blooms.  At this point, Barb had been a resident of Minnesota for almost 25 years. She’d moved from a very small town in Wisconsin called Scandinavia, where she grew up as one of five children in a Polish family. Coming to Minnesota, and eventually living in Minneapolis, gave her the change and new adventure she had been looking for as a small town resident.

1Although she has always been interested in them, Barb didn’t have much to do with gardening or water quality at first. She slowly picked up gardening throughout her life, eventually becoming a master gardener. Now, she has a yard that’s teeming with many different gardens, including two raingardens, and several vegetable gardens on raised beds.  Similarly, her interest in water quality started when she attended seminars about it at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Since then, her interest has grown enough that she’s played some vital roles in Metro Blooms’ work. Starting in 2009, she’s been using her master gardener skills to help out at raingarden workshops. In 2010, she hosted that year’s Garden Party at her house along with her husband. This year, she’s on the State Advisory Board for Master Gardeners and will be working again to coordinate Master Gardeners for raingarden workshops.

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Volunteer Spotlight: Mark Pedelty

For our first Volunteer Spotlight, we have Mark Pedelty, a University of Minnesota professor whose involvement with Metro Blooms stems from some really interesting experiences. You might ask why a communications professor who grew up working in a cattle auction in Northern Iowa, spends his summers in Washington State, and plays in an Americana Rock band would take interest in an organization like Metro Blooms.

Mark at one of his performances.

Well, Mark just stumbled upon Metro Blooms in 2009 while engaged in other work. He was working on a water quality campaign in the Powderhorn Neighborhood of Minneapolis when someone referred him to Metro Blooms, which was carrying out a large project in the same place. After meeting Becky Rice, Metro Blooms’ Executive Director, he started working on engaging Powderhorn residents in building raingardens on their properties. This eventually translated to an hour-long film detailing the Powderhorn Neighborhood Raingarden Installation Project. Since the creation of this film, which took two and a half years to make, Mark has been lending a hand to Metro Blooms in various ways. Most recently, he performed with his band, Hypoxic Punks, at Metro Bloom’s 3rd Annual Rock for Raingardens Event. The event provided a night of entertainment and support for Metro Blooms fans.

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