Although Youth Farm is no longer offering direct programming in South Minneapolis, there is still so much going on throughout the community.
Zion Lutheran Church, whose building houses Youth Farm’s Minneapolis office, has been hosting the Lyndale Community Dinner on Wednesday nights for close to 20 years. Over the years, pieces of the dinner have changed to better fit the needs of those who live in the neighborhood. Zion’s leadership feels this dinner is an important community building aspect of the Lyndale neighborhood and values their partnerships with the Lyndale Neighborhood Association (LNA), Youth Farm, and many other neighborhood entities. Zion and LNA have been long-time partners of Youth Farm and they have also been long-time partners of each other, now organizing the Lyndale Community Dinner together. This dinner offers a space for members of the Lyndale neighborhood to come together for a wholesome, fresh, and pay-what-you-can meal served alongside great conversation and community activities.
Alison Hoyer, the Food Access and Environmental Justice Community Organizer from LNA, has worked hard in conjunction with members of Zion’s congregation to ensure that fresh and colorful produce is reaching the plates of community members.
“We have recently partnered with Co-Op Partners Warehouse and I collect produce from them on Tuesdays before the dinner,” Alison said. “These donations have been awesome because we can include fresh produce in our dinners as well as offer any leftovers for people to take home with them.”
As well as including produce from co-op partners, the Lyndale Community Dinner also strives to include neighborhood-grown produce from the garden located at the Charles Horn Towers. Alison, along with former Youth Farmer, Haakon Anderson, manage the garden and ensure that the crops produced there go right back into the community. This garden-to-table project of LNA aims to bring community together and create access to wholesome, locally-grown produce.
Not only is the Lyndale Community Dinner a great place for neighbors to come together and eat, it is also a great opportunity for youth and adults alike to get involved in their community. Each dinner includes activities for anyone to participate in ranging from BINGO and board games to free bike tune ups and blood pressure checks. Along with these activities, the dinner also offers a space for community members to volunteer. Haakon Anderson is a great example of youth getting involved in volunteer opportunities like this. Not only does he help manage the garden that grows produce for the dinner, he also helps serve and clean up.
After his time at Youth Farm came to an end, Haakon took it upon himself to stay engaged in neighborhood activities.
“I’ve stayed involved with a lot of things throughout the neighborhood,” Haakon said. “I grew up in Youth Farm and have continued to love gardening. I now volunteer at the CHT garden and help Alison manage it. I also love serving at the Lyndale Community Dinner because it’s not only fun, but I see a lot of people I know from the neighborhood.”
It’s easy to see that Haakon has a passion for the Lyndale neighborhood, especially the kids. “Through working at Youth Farm, I realized how much I loved working with kids and being a leader. I am thinking about going to school to become a teacher,” he said. Volunteering with the community dinners has allowed Haakon to continue to engage with kids from throughout the neighborhood, several of which were also Youth Farmers.
Youth Farm is very proud to see the ways in which our community partners and former South Minneapolis participants are continuing to be a shining light in the neighborhood. These partners are also helping current Youth Farmers be present in South Minneapolis neighborhoods. On June 19th, the North Minneapolis Youth Farm team will be cooking and serving at the Lyndale Community Dinner. Although we no longer have direct programs in South Minneapolis, we are thankful to our partners like LNA and Zion for keeping us engaged. However, we are even more thankful that they are keeping the community and youth engaged in their neighborhoods.
The Lyndale Community Dinner takes place every Wednesday night at 6 pm at Zion Lutheran Church. For more information about the dinner please visit Zion’s website: http://zionchurchmpls.org/serving/ or Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/zioninlyndale and for weekly menus check out the Lyndale Community Dinner Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/lyndalecommunitydinner/.
For Lyndale Community Dinner volunteer opportunities please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and sign up online at https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0b4cabad23a3fb6-lyndale1 to get your hands dirty for the Garden-to-Table Project of the Lyndale Neighborhood Association.