The BIG Dinner Party – 2017

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.

Powderhorn Empty Bowls event this Friday November 3rd

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:

photo: David Woolley – Powderhorn365

Aareal’s Sour Pickles

Today I wanted to share a great pickling recipe that one of our Hawthorne youth tried out last week. Aareal Taylor has been working hard all year at our Nellie Stone Johnson Farm caring for the plants as part of her school classes, her after school activities and through our summer program. The other day as we were dropping off some delicious fruits of her labor of love, her grandmother Shirley let me know that Aareal had found a sour pickle recipe and had tried it out with the cucumbers we had delivered. I just got an update from Shirley today saying that they tried them this morning and that they tasted great! They both love sour pickles and hopefully you do too! Thanks Aareal for the inspiration, I can’t wait for ours to be done!

Sour Pickles (from Preserving Made Easy by Margaret Howard)


  • 1.5 cups distilled white vinegar or apple-cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • ½ teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 3 whole all spice berries
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 2 Tablespoons coarse salt
  • 1 pound pickling cucumbers, trimmed and cut into ½-inch wedges
  • 8 sprigs dill
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled


Combine vinegar, ½ cup water, sugar, spices, and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Fill clean containers tightly with vegetables. Add boiling brine to cover completely. Let cool completely. Cover, label and refrigerate at least 1 week before serving or up to 3 months. Makes 2 pints.




Distribution Wednesdays Continue!

Today myself and awesome Hawthorne All Star Breonna drove around the northside jamming to the radio and delivering veggies to Youth Farm families. Summer program feels like such a long time ago (just last week!), so it was great to see familiar faces and celebrate giant heads of cauliflower together. The residents at St. Olaf were quite excited about their first tomatoes too! The fridges are once again bare and ready for Friday’s harvest. YES!


Hawthorne’s Distribution Wednesdays

Wednesdays are a busy day in Hawthorne. We are averaging over 100lbs of produce for just that day of the week! In the afternoons, we split up into 3 cohorts who make breakfast, preserve a little of summer for the winter months and prepare the rest to give away to youth and St.Olaf elders. Today youth made zucchini bread for breakfast next week (5 loaves!!), some rhubarb jam to be squirreled away for later (an icecream topping perhaps??) and packed up over 20 shares to distribute! It’s such a fun day to celebrate our hard work all week.

Distributing to elders at SOCC
Distributing to elders at SOCC
Making breakfast!
Making breakfast!


Back to Our Roots: NSJ Year-End Celebration

Last Thursday, Hawthorne LEAD returned to their old stomping grounds at Nellie Stone Johnson School for their Year-End Celebration. Our star LEAD Sergio, India and Ronnisha hyped summer program, passed out salsa verde samples and reconnected with old mentors. We can’t wait for summer!

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Harvesting Begins


We’ve begun harvesting lettuce, spinach, and radishes out of the Lyndale hoop house. We cooked up a delicious spanakopita and have been eating salads galore. We’ve been distributing bags of produce to our farm helpers at Lyndale school. We’re creeping up on 50 pounds harvested in the last 2 weeks alone!

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.


Building Community One Meal at a Time

Caleb Prepping a Root Mash
Caleb Prepping a Root Mash

We are deep in our larders now, cooking up tasty meals for families and community. Last week Project LEAD cooked up the Lyndale Community Dinner and the next night our Cooking Class served up their own Family Dinner. We’re back in the kitchens the next two Wednesdays (March 28th and April 1st) for more Community Dinners. All are welcome to join us! Dinner is served at 6pm at Zion Church on the corner of 33rd St and Pillsbury Ave. This week we’re bringing back our famous Collard Green and White Bean Soup, with our frozen collards, and next week we have some good ole Youth Farm Spaghetti! See you there, and bring your appetite!

Digging into the Freezer


Its cold out there! We’re staying warm by cleaning out our freezer, and taking inventory of all the frozen veggies from last growing season. We’re deep into the winter and still have gallons of tomato sauce, zucchini, kale, green beans, broccoli, and collards.  Not to mention smaller bags of corn, peppers, parsley, grape tomatoes, and apple sauce. We’ve been eating frozen chili, atakilt wot, pasta sauce, pho broth, zucchini bread, and pesto.

After taking inventory, our LEAD started meal planning for upcoming community dinners. Next month you can share the spoils of our labor at the Lyndale Community Dinner. Our LEAD will be cooking up the dinner at Zion Church on Wednesdays from March 11th to April 1st. The dinner is served at 6pm. Zion is at 128 W 33rd St.

On the menus are southwest chili, collards and white bean soup, spaghetti, mac n cheese, and more! Bring your appetite!