The long awaited Hoop House at Green Central Elementary and Park is finally underway! We’ve installed our ground stakes and put up the hoops. A group of 5th graders helped out during recess to pound in some stakes, and our staff came together to get those hoops up. Next week we’re excited to host our partners from the Conservation Corps to get more done. Next steps include spreading a layer of cardboard and wood chips, installing baseboards, putting in bottom rails, and getting the ends up.
Anyone is welcome to lend us a hand while we’re out there working. We’ll be on site Thursday April 21st 4-7pm, Thursday May 5th 4-7pm, and Thursday May 19th 5-7pm.
A huge shout out to Hashep Seka for all her work making this project possible. Thank you also to the Minneapolis Parks and Rec Board and to Green Central Elementary for their support.
Earlier this week, YFMP debuted its first summer program in the Frogtown neighborhood of St. Paul. Armed with lots of enthusiasm and positive, engaging activities for the youth, YFMP staff helped kick the summer off to a great start. Despite the rumblings of rain on Tuesday and raindrops on Wednesday, the youth were busy working in the gardens, whether they were weeding, seeding, or transplanting; many youth have already been recognized for their “green thumb”s! The first few program days weren’t all about gardening, though – youth also worked in the kitchen to help prepare yummy lunches and had a great time riding bikes and playing a “smashing” game of Fizzball.
As this is the first summer of YFMP in Frogtown, the staff is working hard to adapt the program to the Frogtown youth. The number of youth in attendance is expected to grow over the next few weeks as word spreads about all of the fun happening at 501 LaFond. For now, Frogtown is small but mighty with big goals and plans to make it one of the best YFMP program sites yet!
This spring, new gardens and farms are popping up all over Frogtown! Last Saturday, volunteers in Frogtown built three new raised beds at St Stephanus Lutheran Church. Volunteers planted herbs and veggies that youth farmers will cook in summer lunches.
Last Saturday, community members in Frogtown, master gardeners, youth from the Wilder Foundation’s Youth Leadership Initiative, and staff from Jackson Preparatory Magnet built a new garden in the neighborhood. Volunteers worked hard to build eight new 4’x12′ raised beds at the school. Jackson students will plant the new garden this spring with a variety of crops including collard greens, herbs, corn, tomatoes, and peppers.
YFMP is honored to be one of only 27 organizations nation-wide to be awarded a 2011 Community Foods Project grant through the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). While we alluded to it in our winter fundraising appeal, YFMP’s proposal focuses on Creating a youth led food movement in the Twin Cities by increasing food production and neighborhood capacity in low income neighborhoods. The majority of this movement building focuses on YFMP’s expansion efforts in the Hawthorne Neighborhood in N. Minneapolis and the Frogtown Neighborhood in St. Paul, as well as supporting the creation of our next stage of our progressive programming model, Farm Stewards.
YFMP’s expansion efforts in Hawthorne and Frogtown aim to reach an additional 300 youth and double our produce output by 2014. But a food movement is more than just numbers of youth and pounds of local produce, it’s about culture change; something that does not happen overnight and does not happen by inserting oneself into the food conversation. YFMP’s progress in Lyndale, Powderhorn, and the West Side over the last decade has been successful by putting youth in positions to have tangible impact on their neighborhood through food. That impact happens not just through the thousands of pounds of food distributed in each neighborhood, but through neighborhood level planning and leadership both in and outside of YFMP. We look forward to engaging the youths of the Frogtown and Hawthorne neighborhoods in a way that puts their ideas, solutions, creativity and hard work at the forefront of their neighborhood.
YFMP’s Farm Stewards Program started in October 2011 and is a natural extension of our progressive programming model, providing YFMP “graduates” ages 19-24 with employment and professional development opportunities after high school focusing on leadership and food justice. Farm Stewards work year-round, growing and distributing food via greenhouses, hoop houses, and eventually on the farms in all five neighborhoods, although right now they are focused on West Side and Lyndale. Additionally, Farm Stewards teach weekly classes allowing YFMP to serve more youth. Not only are Farm Stewards entrepreneurs who engage in food systems directly through the business of growing and selling commercially viable specialty crops, they are advocates for food access and justice in each neighborhood by honing community organizing and leadership skills.
The full press release from the USDA can be found here.
We are excited to announce JP Mason as our first Hawthorne Neighborhood Program Director. JP is beginning his official work with YFMP after serving as an AmeriCorps Vista at Nellie Stone Johnson Community School (NSJ) where he initiated an expansive farm collaboration between YFMP, Beacons Minneapolis and NSJ.
Prior to his work at YFMP, JP served as an AmeriCorps member at NSJ for 2 years, where he developed a student-led, school-wide recycling and composting program, coordinated the planting of 38 trees and shrubs with the Minnesota Tree Trust, and facilitated the planting of 3 native prairie gardens with Metro Blooms. Before working in North Minneapolis, he was involved in a variety of social justice/leadership activities and spent time working in the Dominican Republic tutoring youth. Outside of YFMP, JP is an artisan bread baker and avid cook. Originally from North Carolina, he is a graduate of Virginia Tech University with both a Bachelors and Masters Degree in Sociology.
If you haven’t had a chance to see the farm that JP and students at Nellie Stone Johnson School have built on the North Side, you should find a reason to, it is impressive. JP is excited to continue is collaborative relationship with NSJ and other partners in Hawthorne that he has built over the last two years, especially the youth and their families. JP can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 612.222.5280.
Here is a short video of a quite moment in N. Minneapolis at the new farmsite in Hawthorne at Nellie Stone Johnson school. 3 months in and it’s looking pretty nice. Stay tuned over the next few months as we work to get things up to speed. A big thanks to all the youth that have been the pioneers for this farm over the last few months and continuing on through the summer, as well as our key partners Beacons Minneapolis and Nellie Stone Johnson school.
We are excited to announce Beth Ringer as our first Frogtown Program Director. Beth began working with YFMP in 2010 by doing a year of service through the St. Joseph’s Worker Program. She is a skilled Youth Worker (as the youth in Lyndale and Powderhorn will attest to) with a passion for community centered youth work. Prior to her work at YFMP, Beth worked in a variety of Youth Programs, as well as the “Campus Kitchens Project” at Augsburg College. Originally from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, she is a honors graduate of Augsburg College with a Bachelors’ Degree in Music. YFMP is lucky to have Beth on board leading the charge in one of our two new neighborhood programs. She officially starts on July 1st, and will be spending this summer organizing the beginning efforts in Frogtown, apprenticing/training in our current neighborhoods, and building strong connections with youth, families, and community partners in Frogtown. Beth can be reached via email at email@example.com or 651.325.7453, as she is excited to start to connect with Frogtown neighbors.
We have some exciting news to share! With 16 years of experience as our foundation, Youth Farm and Market Project (YFMP) has spent the last two years documenting, naming, and connecting the most successful and effective elements of our work to outcome based research. We are now poised for the next stage of impact, serving additional neighborhoods and extending our programming to build leadership in a next generation of food advocates.
We are thrilled to announce expansion to two neighborhoods: Hawthorne in North Minneapolis and Frogtown in St. Paul. The expansion is possible with funding from the St. Paul Foundation, the General Mills Foundation, SUPERVALU Foundation, along with several other grant awards, and with support from neighborhood partners including Beacons Minneapolis in the Hawthorne area and Frogtown Gardens located in the Frogtown area.
Expansion work began this spring in the Hawthorne Neighborhood and will begin in the Frogtown Neighborhood this summer. The outcomes of this expansion will include:
300 additional youth each year will be engaged in summer and after school programs in these two neighborhoods by 2014, including all aspects of the YFMP program model (Youth Farmers, All Stars, and Project LEAD) for youth ages 9-18.
Employment for 20 additional Project LEAD staff (ages 14-18) as well as expanding YFMP’s work to YFMP graduates ages 19-24 as Farm Specialists, a role that will allow for an increased focus on employment, leadership, and micro-enterprise from within these urban communities.
Produce grown in these 2 neighborhoods through YFMP programming will reach at least 100 residents in each neighborhood. All farming, harvesting, and distribution efforts will be guided by youth-led action research around food needs in each community.
Enrollment for youth that live in these neighborhoods has begun in Hawthorne and will begin in Frogtown by July 1 of this summer. If you live in one of these neighborhoods and want to learn more about participating or volunteering, please visit the YFMP website, http://youthfarm.net/employment-volunteering/ or contact YFMP Associate Director, Amanda Stoelb at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about supporting YFMP’s expansion efforts, contact Executive Director, Gunnar Liden, email@example.com.