Hawthorne All-Stars visit Coop Partners Warehouse

The Hawthorne All-Stars have spent a lot of time this year exploring different components of the food system. We’ve talked about the food system as being comprised of six different parts: 1. Plant growth and harvest, 2. Processing and Packaging, 3. Transportation, 4. Distribution, 5. Food Access, & 6. Consumption & Waste. By looking at each of these parts, the Hawthorne All-Stars are working towards assembling a neighborhood food distribution plan for the fruits and veggies grown in Hawthorne.

Most recently, we visited the Coop Partners Warehouse in St. Paul. Coop Partners is a wholesale food distributor servicing retail food coops, natural food stores, and restaurants with fresh (and mostly organic) food, much of which is grown locally (defined by Coop Partners as grown in Minnesota or one of the bordering states: North & South Dakota, Iowa, or Wisconsin. Coop Partners supports Youth Farm’s year round programming by making produce nearing the end of its retail shelf life available to Youth Farm through its food bank program.

Last Tuesday, eight Hawthorne All-Stars traveled out to the Coop Partners, and spent over an hour touring the warehouse and hearing first hand about the food distribution phase of the food system. Among other things, youth learned more about what makes fruit and veggies “organic,” that Mangoes are the most distributed fruit worldwide (NOT bananas, although bananas are the most distributed in the U.S.), and that it is possible to distribute “local” produce year round (even in Minnesota) by storing root vegetables at the proper temperature and humidity.

By the end of the school year,  the All-Stars will have put together a food distribution plan based on their own experiences and interaction with the food system, and will answer the questions: where do we want our food to go? and how are we going to get it there? We are excited to see what they come up with!

Urban Baby Cooks Up Spinach Balls with Hawthorne All Stars

Michelle Horowitz from Urban Baby finishes mixing a batch of spinach balls with the Hawthorne All-Stars.

Last Tuesday, Urban Baby’s Michelle Horowitz came to cook with the Hawthorne All-Stars class at Farview Park. A previous public defender and chef, Michelle brings a lot of passion, knowledge, and healthy & delicious food to North Minneapolis. A resident of North, Michelle founded Urban Baby to “address health disparities in nutritionally at-risk communities, strengthen communities around food, and help create an equitable and sustainable food system.”

Despite the organization’s focus on working with parents and young children, Michelle offered up her time to come out and guest chef with the Hawthorne All-Stars. What was on the menu? Spinach Balls and Sweet Potato/Zucchini Pancakes with homemade ranch dressing.

One rule we have at Youth Farm is that you can’t call food yucky, nasty, icky, or disgusting. We tell youth it’s ok not to like a food, but they have to be able to explain why. As you might expect from most youth, there was a lot of initial skepticism about the menu. Michelle addressed this by introducing the term neophobia – the fear of trying new foods, and begged the question of how youth learned to try ice cream or pizza for the first time.

After cooking for nearly an hour, the veggie pancakes and spinach balls were finished, and the general consensus among the All-Stars was that despite their names, these two snacks were delicious and not all that hard to make.

Many thanks to Michelle Horowitz and Urban Baby their work in North Minneapolis and support of Youth Farm programming.


First week of programming in Hawthorne Neighborhood off to a great start

Youth Farm All Stars in Hawthorne Neighborhood, kicked off fall after school programming for Youth Farm this last Tuesday afternoon.  The All Stars prepared a meal, consisting of veggie pesto penne pasta, salad using all Youth Farm grown veggies, and baked apple crisp.

Youth also began brainstorming ways to get more involved in their community. This fall, Hawthorne All Stars will be touring various urban farms in Minneapolis, helping prepare community meals, constructing a compost bin for a nearby community garden, and helping plan for next year’s growing season. Check back for updates from Hawthorne as we continue to grow this new program!

Two Hawthorne All Stars pose, taking a moment from cleaning currant cherry tomatoes for the meal's salad.