Herbalist, social justice fighter, college student, mentor, leader, and Youth Farmer. All of these words describe Northside Farm Steward Yasmin Banishoraka, but they don’t even begin to scratch the surface of this young leader’s multifaceted interests and skills. Youth Farm is beyond honored to have such a driven role model on our staff.
Yasmin’s journey with Youth Farm started at eight years old after her mom coaxed her along. Being a member of the Lyndale Neighborhood Association’s board, Yasmin’s mother had a plethora of community connections. One day one of those connections led her to Youth Farm and she knew it would be a perfect fit for her daughter who had already started gardening and gained a passion for it in her few short years.
After joining Youth Farm, Yasmin was hooked. Now 21, Yasmin has been involved with Youth Farm for 13 years and counting. She has been a perfect example of our progressive program model, starting her involvement at an in-school program at Lyndale Community School, then attending summer program, and then moving on to become an All-Star, Project LEAD, and eventually a Farm Steward.
“What keeps youth, including myself, involved here at Youth Farm is the fact that it’s one thing to make people feel welcome, but another to make them feel wanted,” Yasmin said. “And people feel wanted here. They feel like they have a purpose and that their role matters in the bigger picture. Youth Farm has given me a sense of being bigger than myself and has proven assumptions I had about myself wrong. For example, I used to think I was bad at public speaking and that I would never be a leader, and now I know I am good at both of those things.”
To say that Yasmin’s role is important to the bigger picture would be an understatement. Currently, in her role as a Farm Steward, Yasmin is serving as a mentor to younger youth and has also been tasked to manage the schedules and work plan of the entire Northside team.
“Youth Farm has provided me with so many professional and community opportunities,” Yasmin said. “I know because of Youth Farm that my resume is top notch and I have a lot of good references and connections to go along with that. I have also met a ton of political figures and built a great local network.”
Youth Farm may have helped Yasmin build her resume and community network, but it has been her passion and drive for community building and social justice that has made her a true world changer. There are so many examples to choose from when it comes to showcasing Yasmin’s work, but a truly unique example is the children’s garden she started at one of the community gardens in her neighborhood.
“When I was younger, I kept getting more and more involved with Youth Farm and I really built a strong passion for bringing people, especially kids, together in the garden,” Yasmin said. “I decided I wanted to find a way to involve young children in local urban agriculture, so I started a children’s garden in South Minneapolis where kids who were too young to be involved at Youth Farm could start to experience the magic of the garden.”
Both Yasmin’s knowledge and love of gardening have since transpired into many different projects in and outside of Youth Farm. To start out her college career, Yasmin attended Minneapolis Community and Technical College and earned an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Studies alongside an Herbal Studies certificate. Her expertise in herbs has taken root in many Youth Farm projects, this year specifically shining in the upkeep of the Peace Havens Herbal Garden in North Minneapolis. On any given day you can expect to find Yasmin wandering around the garden showering those who will listen with an abundance of plant knowledge. Have a headache? Bug bite? Skin rash? Whatever it is, Yasmin will have just the plant for you.
Now entering her senior year at the University of Minnesota, Yasmin has big plans for the future.
“I am at a transition point in my life,” Yasmin said. “There are so many routes I can take and right now I am trying to choose which one is best for me. I am currently studying Political Science and have always thought about going to law school to become a lawyer with the hope of eventually becoming a judge. Even with this plan in mind, my time at Youth Farm has also made me consider a job in the nonprofit world. Either way, I want to focus my time on social justice and making urban agriculture accessible to more and more people.”
After years of knowing Yasmin, we don’t doubt that she will do great things and continue to change the world with her passion for plants, people, and justice.