Just as our youth grow and change through the years, so do we as an organization. Now entering our 25th year of serving youth throughout Minneapolis and St. Paul, here at Youth Farm we are taking on some major changes, aiming to increase our program quality and impact.
There are currently three key programmatic and organizational changes taking place at Youth Farm:
- Due to our capacity and the desire to fully capitalize on it, we have recently narrowed our focus to serve three specific areas: 1) school partnerships, 2) the St. Paul neighborhoods of Frogtown and the West Side, and 3) North Minneapolis. How we engage groups in each of these three areas will look different, but this narrowed focus will allow us to be more dynamic and build off of a variety of partnerships.
- Secondly, as we focus on this narrowed scope, we have decided not to run a traditional 4-8 week “summer program” in any of the neighborhoods we serve. Instead, we are transitioning to “growing season” programming. At Youth Farm, our growing season typically takes place during the months of April through October. Our focus on quality year-round programming will allow us to reach more youth with the least access to quality youth development opportunities and engage these youth in new ways.
- Finally, although we are sad to see an era come to an end, we have decided to move out of the South Minneapolis neighborhoods of Lyndale and Powderhorn. We will no longer be running direct programs in these neighborhoods, but strive to continue our impact through consulting long-term partners like the Lyndale Neighborhood Association and Lyndale Community School as they take over the maintenance of previous Youth Farm gardens.
As an organization, we understand that these changes may come as a shock to some people, but we would not be making them if we didn’t truly believe in the positive impact they will make. We strive to always do the highest quality work and came to the realization that maintaining gardens and programs at six sites in South Minneapolis was simply beyond our capacity.
In addition to supporting our South Minneapolis partners as they take over these spaces, we will continue to work with and employ a number of our South Minneapolis Project LEAD that have worked in the Lyndale and Powderhorn neighborhoods in the past, finding new opportunities for them in North Minneapolis and St. Paul.
We are excited to see how Youth Farm evolves and grows and will continue to communicate how this manifests over time.