Jordan showing off our first harvest of grape tomatoes
Jordan showing off our first harvest of grape tomatoes

This summer Lyndale’s primary method of food distribution has been a family shares program. All summer youth and parents have been telling us how they’ve used the produce. We’ve heard about kids making and eating pesto, kale chips, and lots of green salads all with our produce. Yesterday our Project LEAD called families to hear feedback on how the shares program has been benefitting their family. Parents told our Project LEAD their families are eating more greens and veggies, more interested in fresh produce, trying new veggies, saving money, and have replaced going to the farmers market with eating the family share. This week I had the chance to talk to a couple All Stars about changing our distribution system from a neighborhood CSA to a direct family share. Symbri said, “It makes sense. We grow eat, we should eat it.” Jessica bragged, “I made kale chips with my mom! And we used Youth Farm kale. It was soo good.”

Jessica and Symbri take a moment in the shade
Jessica and Symbri take a moment in the shade

A huge part of our success with family shares this summer is highlighting our veggies in different parts of our program. We have a weekly “Cash Crop” where we celebrate a vegetable of the week. Project LEAD perform “Rotten Idea Theatre” skits demonstrating  the Cash Crop’s health benefits. We are also using our food in lunch every day, cooking it in our activity groups, and sending home recipes that Project LEAD chose.

Nazeem and a crew grilling chicken marinated by a Youth Farm mom
Nazeem and a crew grilling chicken marinated by a Youth Farm mom

All of this wouldn’t be possible if we weren’t growing a TON of food. This year we’ve already harvested over 450 lbs of produce, easily twice as much as last year. Farm Stewards led the way this spring in improving our growing practices. We re-built our Lyndale School Farm, built a hoop house, and have incorporated best practices like companion planting into our farm plans.

Pillsbury Farm's cucumbers have been mulched and are getting trellised
Pillsbury Farm’s cucumbers have been mulched and are getting trellised. In the background you can also see our radishes that we’re letting flower so we can seed save!

Summer Sun

The suns out! We’ve been celebrating the heat by keeping cool in the pool and making ice cream. Our hoop house is accelerating our summer and we’ve just about got jalapeños now too!




Hoop House Now Feeding Lyndale

We’ve got fresh food! Even as we just start seeding outside, our hoop house is now kicking out lettuce, spinach, green onions, and radishes. All 15 youth in our Lyndale School program took home a bag of produce yesterday and tonight our All Things Food program will do the same. Plus we’ve been using the produce in our cooking classes, Project LEAD meetings, and for snack in our biking program. Check it out:

Lyndale Farm Stewards show off their radishes
Lyndale Farm Stewards show off their radishes
All Things Food dove into a bucket of fresh spinach and lettuce
All Things Food dove into a bucket of fresh spinach and lettuce

Spring Seeding

IMG_1995 IMG_1997We’ve seeded the hoop house and teeny, tiny sprouts are popping up! They survived last weeks cold snap and will only keep growing as the weather warms. Farm Stewards put in the work to add compost and prep the beds, and now Lyndale School youth have come over during recess to seed spinach, lettuce, radish, cilantro, beets, and carrots and transplant onions. In just three weeks we should have food ready for our cooking classes and for youth to take home.

Lyndale School Grows

Our Farm at Lyndale School has had a couple major updates this year. We’ve built a hoop house a good sized hoop house that we will start growing in this winter. Our Farm Stewards have long been at work at putting this project together and the construction process was assisted by our friends at Minnesota Teen Challenge. This fall our Project LEAD and youth from our Lyndale Elementary Afterschool Class have started building the beds within the space.

Over the last year Lyndale School and Community Ed has been working with us to build a fence around the farm. With lumber donated by Siwek’s, youth from Lyndale’s art classes have been designing and painting pickets. Thirty feet of the fence have been installed with more ready to go up, and when its all done the mural will reach around over 100 feet of the farm.

Farm Stewards have also begun strategic planning for how to improve our production and create more youth-friendly spaces at all of our farm sites. Exciting ideas for Lyndale School include re-designing the plots, growing mushrooms, and building a lean-to for shade on hot summer days. We’ll keep you updated as we put these ideas to action over the next couple years.

Farm Stewards Reflect on the Summer, Pt 2

By Nora Knutson

The leaves are slowly making their piles beneath the trees, and as we fade in to fall, it’s a good time for reflection on the summer and preparation for the school year.  This summer flew by (as is customary with Minnesota summers and Youth Farm Summer Programs)!  As one of the three Lyndale neighborhood Farm Stewards, I think we had a great summer program, with fun games, lots of laughs, good meals, beautiful weekly shares of produce, and of course some big ol’ piles of rich compost.  And as with any youth farm summer (or any summer youth program, for that matter), of course, there were challenges, lessons learned, and room for improvement.  I also think, with this being the second year of the Farm Steward positions, we have a great opportunity for implementing new ideas, perfecting old strategies, and overall continuing the improvement of the program.

One of my goals for the next season is to increase our veggie production in the gardens, and this new hoop house (like a greenhouse) we’re building at the Lyndale School garden is going to be a huge part of that, as it will extend the growing season for a variety of crops and allow us to start more plants from seed.  I also think that there is a lot of room for improvement and expansion with the ways we distribute and use our food, such as increasing the quality of the Buying Club Share program, returning to farmers markets, including even more veggies from the garden in lunch, and getting food to all the kids in the program weekly for free.

I am so so excited to be able to work with Youth Farm through out the school year; to lead an after school program with the kids at Lyndale school, and to be a part of planning and organizing our program!  I feel very lucky to have this job, and I am looking forward to my first full year of working on the same farm, and to working with Shanna and Jesus and really delving in to the Farm Steward position.

Today I am mentally preparing myself for this year, and the next four years, as I start at the University of Minnesota (as a freshman with some credit), and as I begin working at butter bakery and cafe, and as the fall season farm steward work really starts.  I have three e-mail accounts and a weekly schedule (two part time jobs and full time school) and two white boards/one bulletin board for to-do lists.  Not to mention that I’m going to be in Minnesota for the whole year (ahem winter) for the first time in a while.  I am going to be moving at a very different pace and staying in the same place more than i have been for the past two years, and I can’t tell you how excited I am to be this busy with classes that are going to expand my mind and communities that are going to expand my social network and jobs that are going to expand my skills/knowledge/experience and personal projects (i.e. art) that I hope will give me more freedom of expression.

so much expansion…i just might EXPLODE!

Happy Labor Day!

-Nora Marie Mahto Knutson

Help Build YFMP’s Hoop House in Lyndale this Friday and Saturday

Lyndale Youth Farm is building their very first high tunnel! We are extremely excited about the advanced food production and programming opportunities the structure will create!


We need a bit more help and hands for preparing the land and building the high tunnel. We would like to recruit volunteers to help with its construction this Friday August 31st from 2-5pm and Saturday September 1st between noon and 5pm. Both days we will provide water and snacks.

Directions to our Lyndale School Farmsite in South Minneapolis can be found here.

We would greatly appreciate the extra hands. Building experience isn’t required. If community members have the time and would like to help with an exciting project to benefit youth, they can come out!

If folks are interested, have questions, or need more info, they can give Shanna a call at 612-275-0975 or email her

New Lyndale Hoophouse

The Lyndale crew excited to assemble their new Hoophouse that arrived today! Check back for updates on our installation progress.