Throughout the summer of 2017, Youth Farms’ Hawthorne Community Organizer Marcus Kar worked with a cadre of North Minneapolis organizations including Appetite for Change, Northside Fresh Coalition and West Broadway Business & Area Coalition, as well as North Minneapolis residents to combine resources and talent around a series of community events focused on healthy eating, food access and creative solutions to public safety. This inclusive dinner series, supported by the City of Minneapolis Public Safety Initiative, named The BIG Dinner Party by Youth Farmers in North Minneapolis used produce grown locally by Youth Farmers and local gardeners to break bread with thousands of North Minneapolis residents at community gatherings throughout the summer, to celebrate community, healthy foods, and active living in North Minneapolis.
In addition to food, the BIG Dinner Party actively utilized art and music as gathering and engagement tools. Musician/Organizer Marcus Kar led an African Drumming workshop focused on Djembe during the dinners. Youth Farm also worked with Soul Tools Entertainment to help document the happenings throughout the summer and fall in association with The BIG Dinner Party, culminating in a soon to be released short film. As the summer progressed into fall, the project, originally conceived as a series of 3 stand alone dinners, morphed into a project that utilized community and organizational partnerships to “bring” the BIG Dinner Party project to 7 different events and public gatherings across North Minneapolis with food, art, music, and engagement around public safety.
While the events have ended, The BIG Dinner Party work continues on. Marcus Kar will be releasing an EP with Youth Farmers and local hip hop artists highlighting many of the themes of the project. Artist Brandon Brown of Onyx Cycles and a group of Youth Farmers will be finishing their solar powered bike which will be utilized for neighborhood food distribution in 2018, and Youth Farm will be releasing the results from our community surveys around health and food access over the coming months.
The BIG Dinner Party is just beginning. What started as an idea about hosting community dinners and community engagement, has become a central part of Youth Farm’s way to engage youth in North Minneapolis in the real day to day work of food justice. Stay tuned for more in the coming months.
It’s that time of year again – the first Friday in November, November 3rd, is Powderhorn Empty Bowls! Come together with your friends and neighbors for a community meal of bread and soup to help raise money to impact food access in our neighborhood. Pick out a handmade bowl for your meal, enjoy visiting with your neighbors, and when you leave, take your bowl home with you–now empty–as a reminder that you’ve done something good to help your neighbors.
Powderhorn is an amazing neighborhood and community, and this event signifies so much of what is good in Powderhorn. Started in 2007 by 5 neighbors, this event raises thousands of dollars, engages thousands of engaged supporters, and provides food access for so many. Beyond being a recipient of some of the funding in the past, Youth Farm is proud to work with PEB. They support so many organizations a groups doing amazing work – take 60 minutes out of your Friday, bring your co-workers or family, get a beautiful bowl, eat some good food, and be a part of this great work. More info can be found at: https://powderhornemptybowls.org/
We were beyond honored to receive support from the Schwan’s Corporate Giving Foundation last night at Schwan’s Feast on the Field event, a celebration in partnership with the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee to honor the people, the food and the cultural traditions that distinguish the Bold North, as well as a celebration of Schwan’s Company’s 65th Anniversary and their commitment to the community. We look forward to our partnership and utilizing these resources to do great work and support amazing youth leaders in the Twin Cities!
Today marks the last day of our 4 week Summer Leadership Institute for our Youth Farmers (ages 9-11). So much great work has happened over the last 4 weeks – growing food, creating friendships, cooking amazing summer lunches using vegetables from our farms, and all the leadership and mentorship that goes along with making 5 neighborhoods run smoothly. One of the exciting things about our new Summer Leadership Institute is that even though our structured 4 week programming is finished for Youth Farmers, we still have lots on our plate for August. Our Farm Stewards (19-24 year olds) and Project LEAD (14-18 year olds) will be continuing their work through the end of August harvesting and distributing produce to Youth Farmers and their families, offering additional programming for All Stars (ages 12-13) on a neighborhood basis focused of farming, cooking and/or other interests of the All Star participants throughout the summer, and providing opportunities to celebrate the neighborhood level leadership our Youth Farm participants take at neighborhood harvest celebrations.
We would love families and community partners to join with us in breaking bread together at these gatherings. The dates are as follows:
Frogtown – Saturday Aug 5th, 11am-1pm – St. Stephanus Church
Powderhorn – Thursday Aug 10th, 5:30 – 7:30 – Powderhorn Park Garden 34 1/2 St. and 11th Ave S
West Side – Friday Aug 11th, 5:30 – 7:30 – La Puerta Abierta Church
Lyndale – Wednesday Aug 16th, 5:30 – 7:30 – Zion Lutheran Church
Furthermore, Northside/Hawthorne will be hosting/collaborating on a series of “BIG Dinner Party” events throughout the remainder if the summer and into the fall that you will hear more about soon.
Thanks to all the hard work and support of our Youth Farmers and we look forward to continuing to use food as a catalyst for social change through the work we do.
Last week, all the Project LEAD from St. Paul gathered for a three day “city” retreat to team build, plan for our Youth Farmer program, visit Philadelphia Farm, and soak up the sun at Lake Nokomis. Look at these delicious strawberries we picked at Philly Farm! In addition, we planted acorn squash, played with goats and chickens, and took a hike to a waterfall and native prairie.
Thanks again to the team from the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis for coming out and helping us whip our Lyndale Farms into shape this past week. We really appreciate your continued partnership and engagement in our work!
Thursday Lyndale cooking class started the spring session at one of our farms. Every Thursday youth are going to work outside at the farms getting them ready for Summer 2017. This week they started by picking trash and prepping the beds to seed or transplant soon. Also, they had so much fun playing running games and grilling hotdogs.
Spring is a busy time over here on the West Side! Our middle schoolers at Humboldt and OWL are seeding in the greenhouse, transplanting, and sprucing things up with spray paint. We continue to cook each Wednesday — our most recent class was a Chopped competition with four competing teams! The winning team prepared breaded and fried sweet pepper spears, a mustard green pesto, a cheese sauce, and homemade tortilla chips.
This Saturday, our first work group of the season came out to Robert St farm to help us flip beds, spread compost, and build a trellis for peas and sweet potatoes. We used the entire pile of compost across 10 beds. Time for another compost delivery. Thank you Conservation Corps for your hard work and awesome ninja-playing skills!
The South Minneapolis team at Youth Farm would love to see our community at a hoop house party this Sunday April 16th from 1-3 pm. Help us clean up the hoop house and garden, eat food provided by Youth Farm, and spend time in good company.
Where: Youth Farm’s Green Central Hoophouse at Green Central Park. 3416 4th Ave S Minneapolis
When: Sunday April 16th from 1-3 pm
Who: Powderhorn and Central neighborhood residents with the Youth Farm family of teens and staff
Place matters. By grounding our work in neighborhoods, young people, their families and neighbors feel greater ownership, accountability, and understanding of the powerful role youth play in a community. Strong intergenerational and intercultural relationships among youth, parents, business owners, churches, schools, community centers, and neighbors, connects youth and adults in each neighborhood, creating a long term foundation for social change.
Youth Farm’s current 5 neighborhoods (Lyndale & Powderhorn is South Minneapolis, Hawthorne in North Minneapolis, and Frogtown and West Side in St. Paul) all have great strengths and possibility, a multitude of community institutions and schools to partner with, and youth as a key asset, and varying levels of food insecurity in and around the neighborhoods. Within these neighborhoods, Youth Farm seeks to address and/or engage around 3 main areas:
Youth as a community asset: For many in the Youth Development field, asset based youth programming is not a new concept. Youth Farm not only focuses on building positive development of skills and experience in programs, but also in the communities themselves. Youth Farm has over two decades of experience actively engaging youth in the neighborhood they live in to be true social change makers through the work they do around food. Youth Farm strikes a balance of engaging youth as real community contributors, while also focusing on childhood as a time for exploration, learning, and discovery.
Access to quality youth programming: For many lower income families, finding quality youth programming that they can afford is a struggle. In an effort to be accessible to all youth, Youth Farm’s programs are free, eliminating one clear barrier. Cost is not the only factor that prevents youth from accessing programs. In an effort to proactively facilitate participation for all youth, our program staff work intentionally throughout the year to reach neighborhood families who have additional barriers that include: limited English language skills, transportation, and unstable home environments. We work to prioritize youth and families with the least access.
Local food access for lower income residents: We continue to refine our model to provide more fresh, healthy food to lower income residents in a way that is sustainable and true to our youth development mission. We engage youth in effective local food distribution, by involving them not just in the growing and distributing of produce in unique ways such as family CSA’s, cooking classes and food shelves, but as community researchers and planners in their Action Research and neighborhood food distribution plans. By actively engaging youth and families that have the least access, we are more effective at having youth as true community change makers.
Where Youth Farm establishes programs is very intentional, as is who we work to engage and create access to our programs. While we have evolved and grown over the last 23 years, the importance of place and the role neighborhood based programming plays in our approach has remained solid. Strong connections and involvement in each of these 5 neighborhoods provides the foundation both for Youth Farm’s work and Youth Farmers success in becoming great leaders.