Harvest Festivals August 10, 11, and 12!

YFMP Harvest Festivals

This is one of the most exciting times of year at YFMP. Our summer programs have been amazing and are heading towards their conclusion. One of the great culminating events at YFMP is our neighborhood Harvest Festival. If you have never been to one, this is the place to get a true sense of what YFMP is, who the youth are, and what impact they are making in their communities. Each one of our established neighborhood programs hosts a Harvest Festival with a free community meal (which is a feast of the best lunches cooked throughout the summer), recognitions of youth, and performances from different youth focus groups. Consider yourself, and all your friends and family invited. We hope to see you there.

Lyndale Neighborhood Harvest Festival

When:    Wednesday, August 10th – 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Where:    Zion Lutheran Church, 128 W. 33rd St.

Powderhorn Neighborhood Harvest Festival

When:     Thursday, August 11th – 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Where:    Powderhorn Park Building 3400 15th Ave S.

West Side Neighborhood Harvest Festival

When:    Friday, August 12th – 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Where:    Baker Recreation Center 209 W. Page St.

Growing Up Youth Farm by Nora Knutson

Nora Knutson harvesting in the Pillsbury Avenue Farm

When I was nine years old I spent my first summer at Lyndale Youth Farm.  Now, ten years later, I have returned as an adult staff member.  Though I am still really young, I almost feel like an old timer at Youth Farm.  It’s a good feeling, though; it’s a comfortable feeling.

My family had never heard of Youth Farm until an older friend of mine told me about the summer program and encouraged me and my brother to sign up.  My mother liked the sound of it primarily because Youth Farm was free, very close by, and we would be spending our time outdoors.  I was excited to join because I would get to hang out with kids in my neighborhood, go on field trips and do arts and crafts.  Back in those days, we even got a weekly stipend of fifteen bucks, and that was definitely an encouraging factor for a nine year old to consider.

It didn’t take long for the energy of the people and the program to sweep me away and I became an eager little Youth Farmer, excited to be a part of such a unique community.  I liked working in the gardens and getting dirty, but the fact that my summers revolved around growing vegetables wasn’t really important at that point, it was just a method of having fun and connecting with people.  I looked up to the high school LEAD staff greatly and knew from the start that I wanted to join the crew as soon as I was old enough.  I got the job as a LEAD staff and continued working with the program for several years. As a teenager, I began to really appreciate the experience of working with the land and growing food, and I thought that the staff members were seriously the coolest adults around town.  After I graduated from high school, I traveled around the country and volunteered on organic farms to further explore my interest in farming, and now I’m back in the Twin Cities and working at Youth Farm this summer!

It’s fun to think about how Youth Farm has changed, as well as what’s stayed the same, since I was a Youth Farmer myself.  There’s a sort of oral history of Youth Farm that exists among people who grew up with the program or who are growing up with the program right now.  Each program director leaves a different impression, and over the years Youth Farm has gone through a lot of changes as an organization.  Youth Farm is an ever-evolving community of really neat folks, and in coming back to the Twin Cities this summer, I’ve begun to realize just how many connections I’ve made through it.  Whether I’m biking around the neighborhood and some kids from the summer program see me and say hey, or I’m at a big event and I run in to someone I worked with while I was in high school, or I meet someone who knows some people that are working at Youth Farm this summer, it feels good to know that I’m a part of this diverse and dynamic network of people who all have something in common.

I really did grow up with Youth Farm, alongside many others who are very different from me, and I can positively say that it has made a huge impression on who I am today. I’ve gained a lot of skills that look great on a resume: leadership skills, youth work skills, community organizing skills, farm skills, and social skills.  Even if I didn’t know the importance of some of these things as a LEAD staff, I now know how to be silly; I know how to get dirty; I can be LOUD and get people’s attention; I can “fake it until I make it”; I know how useful plans and back-up plans are; I know how to go with the flow and change plans on the fly; I know how important it is to have a safe space to be yourself.  And, yes, I know how to play Ride That Pony; and yes, I know how amazing Youth Farm parodies of popular songs can be; and yes, I know how to make some hot compost.

It’s really amazing to be working alongside staff members who were also in the program as kids, as we teach, lead, and learn from youth that will hopefully continue growing and developing with Youth Farm in to young adulthood, just like we did.

Nora Knutson

A Day in the Life

This week one of Lyndale’s LEAD staff brought her camera along with her. This gallery captures some of the highlights of a day at Youth Farm, including harvesting for Buying Club, turning compost, and body painting in Adventure Club.

 

Pillsbury Farm Still Rockin After All These Years

Youth Farm and Market Project’s first farm is still rocking fresh produce and hot fun even after 16 summers. Here are a couple photos from the start of our second week.

Yesterday the Pillsbury Farmers were painting signs to post around their space. August, Ulysses, and Ruby are here showing off their compost sign. This year’s crop from just that one farm includes basil, potatoes, zucchini, beets, carrots, raspberries, spinach, lettuce, onions, green beans, and spinach. Thats a lot of food!

Lead Staff Rahma is showing Yasmin and Amina how to wash carrots after harvesting. Don’t be alarmed, no carrots were harmed in taking this photos! Carrots were safety placed into Lyndale’s Buying Club Shares and have been distributed out to our neighbors doors.

Lyndale Dry Run

Its Kick Off Week for 2011 Summer Program! We are super hyped to be getting out into the farms with our youth and having some summer fun.

The weather has been a bit of a damper to the week. All neighborhoods called in a rain day for the First Day of Summer. It was a sound decision with a tornado passing through the metro. Today Lyndale hid inside due to lack of rain shelter for the first week of program, but West Side and Powderhorn had amazing first days.

Of course, just because we cancel program doesn’t mean youth aren’t excited to be at Youth Farm! We had a handful of amazing youth come out and help out staff to harvest and distribute the Lyndale Buying Club. We delivered 25 shares of delicious produce out to our neighbors. Each bag came with a healthy amount of lettuce, spinach, chard, and kale. There was even a little bonus of radishes and green onions. All told we harvested over 70 pounds of produce… thats a lot of greens!

Big heads up to Deja, Lillian, Erik, Sage, Chris, Jasmine and our staff for coming out on a damp day. See you Friday with lots of sunshine!

Farm Cooking in the Classroom

When you hear our name, Youth Farm and Market Project, you might think all we do is grow food, but cooking with youth and families has become such an important part of our work.  Check out this article written by Jessica Henrikson in the Minneapolis Examiner.com

Lead Outreach Planning

On Monday the Lyndale Lead were developing an outreach plan for a community food assessment. Here are a couple photos from the meeting, courtesy of Sally Hagler Peterson. More info from the Lead on the project to come…