Youth Farm and Market Project kicked off 2013 with our annual LEAD retreat. This year the retreat agenda focused on seasonal menus, farm planning, and working collaboratively between our 5 different neighborhoods. The collaboration started early by breaking into groups and cooking seasonal dishes – Saturday was our winter meal, filled with root vegetables and soups; Sunday was our summer meal with garden chili, salsas, and salads. With bellies filled we were ready to dive into farm planning.
This past fall YFMP conducted an organizational inquiry into the how, why, and who we grow our food for resulting in a new set of goals around food distribution. One of the decisions those goals have led us to is a neighborhood-wide focus on growing all of the salad crops we will need for this summer. If you are not yet familiar with YFMP’s summer program this may not sound like a very difficult task – plant some seeds, harvest, add dressing, eat, and then play in the sun. For us it is a challenge of scale – over the summer on any given programming day we will be feeding around 260 Youth Farmers, All-Stars, LEAD Staff, summer adult staff, and any community members.
So how are we going to do it? The Lyndale and West Side Farm Stewards used the recipes from YFMP’s summer cookbook to turn all of those ingredient needs into “needed row feet” per salad crop. Then, after researching each of our neighborhoods growing abilities, (sun, soil, drainage, etc…) we “auctioned” off who would be growing what crops and when.
Sunday was highlighted with laughter, drama, mystery, and a few tears. Each neighborhood was given the task of presenting how they plan to distribute the food they grow in their neighborhood with a skit. One of my favorite things at YFMP is watching our LEAD be creative especially when they do impressions of fellow Program Directors.
Overall it was a great retreat and an opportunity for YFMP to start our year on a high note.