Youth Farm, originally called Youth Farm and Market Project, was established by David Brant and Karen Lehman in 1995. The purpose of this organization was to create an urban environment where youth could flourish physically, socially, and emotionally as they mature into young adults. Youth were the focus and food was the conduit.
In the early years Youth Farm and Market Project operated solely in the Lyndale neighborhood of South Minneapolis to grow, harvest and sell produce at two youth-run neighborhood markets. It wasn’t until 1998 that Youth Farm became an independent, 501(c)(3) organization and really started to expand
In 2000, programs were added in the Powderhorn neighborhood of South Minneapolis as well as the West Side neighborhood of St. Paul. The Twin Cities expansions didn’t stop there. As the Youth Farm neighborhoods continued to flourish in grow in more ways that one, so did the program. By 2011 programs were thriving in the vibrant and diverse neighborhoods of Hawthorne in North Minneapolis and Frogtown in St. Paul. With the meager beginning of just 10 youth participants, we are proud to say that Youth Farm is currently serving over 800 youth a year through out summer and school year programs in all five Twin Cities communities.
We have made great strides in our work in the past two decades. We have evolved from an upstart community gardening program to a burgeoning youth-led development organization. Our youth work for local food access, environmental stewardship, youth empowerment, and advancement of cultural expression. Honoring and building on farming traditions, our Youth Farmers work the land, grow and prepare food all while
building inter-generational, cross-cultural and confident relationships. They engage in micro-enterprise activities, organize neighborhoods and help members of the community activate their own public spaces.
With each seed we plant and every harvest we hold, we see the organic process of seeing our youth gain roots, sprout self-confidence and grow into responsible, essential and wholehearted members of their own communities