Growing Community: DakotAbilities Building Friendships Through Garden

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Community gardens are pretty popular around these summer months but one in Sioux Falls is especially unique.

“Our big goal here is to build relationships with the neighborhood and the volunteers and become friends,” said Recreation Coordinator Donna Menzia.

DakotAbilities was started in 2016 to help those with disabilities in the Sioux Empire find community and live a meaningful life. They offer classes and activities for those they serve but on activity has sprouted in popularity, a community garden.

But the garden isn’t for only those at DakotAbilities, it’s for the community as a whole.

“You know, that was the goal and the purpose of getting the gardens in here and building relationships with our neighbors,” said Menzia.

“I like Shirley because she laughs at my jokes, even if they’re terrible,” said volunteer Erik Kafka.

The Kafka’s have been coming to the gardens since the beginning, three years ago. But they’re just one of the volunteers that stop by for a few laughs and to teach friends a thing or two in the process.

“They help us plant the plants, come in and weed with us, teach us to weed the garden and water the garden and watch the harvest grow,” said Menzia.

Each garden has a different them, right now, there’s lettuce, salsa, corn, squash, green beans, and a movie garden filled with corn and sunflower seeds.

While the entire process is loved by those at Dakotabilities, what happens at the end is even more special.

The community gardens were started thanks to funds donated from the United Way of the Sioux Empire. DakotAbilites serves roughly 130 people each day.

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