Summer Leadership Institute 2017 – Youth Farmers

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.

Spring Connections over Tacos

Last Tuesday our All Stars cooked up some delicious smoothies and chicken tacos with all the fixings for the elders at North Oaks Assisted Living. In the weeks leading up to the dinner, the All Stars, with the help of the LEAD, carefully planned out what they were going to make, how it was going to be prepared and they even went a little shopping spree to pick up the ingredients. Everyone had a good time getting to know one another and getting reacquainted over some good food. In our reflection afterwards, the All Stars were excited about the experience of showing off their cooking skills and having people like the food they prepared. Everyone is ready for the next feast and for the garden to produce abundance for our Wednesday distributions that the All Stars will carry into the summer.


Cooking Cooperatively at SOCC

On Tuesday, we had our last All Stars cooking class of the winter and it was packed full of silliness and camaraderie. At the end, we reflected on different ways that we had seen our group agreement in action. Here’s what the group had to say (between mouthfuls of Mac & Cheese and Miso Kale Salad):

If someone didn't want to do a certain task, they did it anyway and the group helped make it fun.
If someone didn’t want to do a certain task, they did it anyway and the group helped make it fun.
Everyone contributed in some way.
People shared their ideas and listened to others’ ideas.
Everyone contributed in some way.


All Star Cider at Annual SOCC Spaghetti Dinner

On Saturday, Hawthorne Youth Farm cooked for and hosted the annual St. Olaf Community Campus Spaghetti Dinner. We made deliciously veggie loaded pasta sauce from our well-stocked freezers, 2 types of salad, NSJ raspberry brownies and SOCC sweet potato pie. The produce list was extensive: tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, eggplant, summer squash, winter squash, broccoli, purple carrots, basil, kale, spinach, lettuce, radishes, beets, raspberries and sweet potatoes. It was over 100# of produce!!

What really stole the show though was Iyonna’s hot apple cider that she spiced up herself. It definitely helped everyone feel warm and toasty as the snow fell. Here’s her recipe:

2 gallons Apple Cider

6 Cinnamon Sticks

1.5 teaspoons grated Ginger

2 teaspoons All Spice (whole)

1 teaspoon Cloves (whole)

1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg

4 Tangerines or 2 Oranges

Boil the cider with the spices for about 10 minutes, then let simmer for about a half hour then strain out the oranges and spices. Serve warm!

Humboldt High School – Years of Partnership

To the best of my knowledge, West Side Youth Farm’s first program happened in the spring of 2000 when then Program Director Gunnar Liden and Humboldt’s Middle School science teacher Ms. Lyde partnered up and offered a spring elective focused on gardening, biology, and the environment.  It was in that class that my fellow classmate and I mapped out what would become the “Main Garden” and started turning the soil and kicking out beds as the snow melted.

Fast forward to today and the Humboldt – West Side Youth Farm partnership is renewed and strong.  Humboldt now offers specific agriculture focused classes and Youth Farm partners with the after-school program to offer gardening and cooking classes for 6th-9th graders.  Throughout the past summer WS YF also helped maintain the Humboldt vegetable garden while teachers and students were on summer break. The partnership has been successful as both parties often benefit.

Special Thanks to teachers Andrea Nthole, TJ Austin, and Beverly Babcock and Principal Michael Sodomka for supporting YF in our mission and goals.  Go Hawks!

Teachers Andrea Nthole and TJ Austin
Teachers Andrea Nthole and TJ Austin
Turning new beds in preparation for next spring
Turning new beds in preparation for next spring
Farm steward Alice Martin making decorated deviled eggs to celebrate Halloween.
Farm steward Alice Martin making decorated deviled eggs to celebrate Halloween.

Join Youth Farm at the Farmer’s Market

West Side Youth Farm staff and youth will be selling produce on Saturdays from 8:30am to 12:30pm at the West Side Farmer’s Market. The market is located in St. Paul at the intersection of George Street and Stryker Ave. Each Saturday throughout the growing season local vendors sell produce, baked goods, and market products like soap. YF will continue to host a stand this fall through the end of season party on October 11th. Hope to see you there. Check out the links below to learn more about the market and vendors through the new Farmer’s Market Documentary.

photo 5 (4)

photo 3 (1)

Alice Martin YF Interview

photo 1 (1)

Andrea Nthole Humboldt High School FFA Interview

photo 4 (1)

Pompeyo Sanchez Icy Cup Owner Interview

photo 2 (1)

Silly Miss Tilly Makes Squirt from Finding Nemo

It’s Already Almost Over

Today marks the end of the 7th week of our 8-week summer program and it feels as if we just started. We have nearly checked off all the boxes on our list of what makes a Youth Farm Summer ; veggies harvested, new friends made, compost cake eaten, skills learned, talents shared, skinned knees from game time, and of course lunch, skillfully prepared and served with care. We will be working hard over the coming week as we prepare for our Harvest Festival – Please join us as we celebrate.


photo 2 (6)

photo 3 (3)

photo 5


photo (3)

photo 1 (6)






photo 4 (3)

Basil Ice Cream?

Why not? Last week we sold some of our beets and basil to Izzy’s Ice Cream Cafe. Our All Stars harvested the 48 pounds of beets needed for their Berry Beet ice cream and we all harvested the 2 pounds of basil needed for their Basil ice cream. Of course that meant we had to sample some! On Wednesday our All Stars got to see their beets turn into ice cream and some of our LEAD and staff enjoyed an after work treat!


All Star Week in Hawthorne!

We have really celebrated All Stars this week both at the baseball game and here in Hawthorne. On Tuesday our LEAD sold out of West Side’s Tic Tac Taco salad at the All Star Game! It was a hit and we all had a blast taking in the festivities and bustle of the day. Thanks Roots for the Hometeam!

On Wednesday, our very own Hawthorne All Stars hit a different sort of field (SOCC Farm) to harvest 30 pounds of beets during their afternoon focus group time. Their work will pay off handsomely because those beets are going to be made into a Berry Beet Ice Cream at Izzy’s Ice Cream Cafe! The All Stars are excited for the rewards to come from that effort… YUM!


Getting Stuffed

We love getting creative with the food we grow, and this week we found a new way to do it. Our friend and intern Peter has been spending Tuesdays and Wednesdays in the Lyndale kitchen, and after poking around Pillsbury Farm one day he suggested we make stuffed grape leaves using our grape vines. Peter taught our cooks how to prepare the leaves, mix together stuffing, and roll them up into delicious nibbles. Thank you Peter for all your work this summer and for teaching us this fun new snack!

Boiling our grape leaves
Heating our grape leaves
Saido, Peter, Maia and Anita lay out the leaves
Saido, Peter, Maia and Anita lay out the leaves
Audrey, Maia, and Anita get into it
Audrey, Maia, and Anita get into it
What a lunch! What a snack!
What a lunch! What a snack!