Summer Leadership Institute 2017 – Youth Farmers

Today marks the last day of our 4 week Summer Leadership Institute for our Youth Farmers (ages 9-11). So much great work has happened over the last 4 weeks – growing food, creating friendships, cooking amazing summer lunches using vegetables from our farms, and all the leadership and mentorship that goes along with making 5 neighborhoods run smoothly. One of the exciting things about our new Summer Leadership Institute is that even though our structured 4 week programming is finished for Youth Farmers, we still have lots on our plate for August. Our Farm Stewards (19-24 year olds) and Project LEAD (14-18 year olds) will be continuing their work through the end of August harvesting and distributing produce to Youth Farmers and their families, offering additional programming for All Stars (ages 12-13) on a neighborhood basis focused of farming, cooking and/or other interests of the All Star participants throughout the summer, and providing opportunities to celebrate the neighborhood level leadership our Youth Farm participants take at neighborhood harvest celebrations.

We would love families and community partners to join with us in breaking bread together at these gatherings. The dates are as follows:

  • Frogtown – Saturday Aug 5th, 11am-1pm – St. Stephanus Church
  • Powderhorn – Thursday Aug 10th, 5:30 – 7:30 – Powderhorn Park Garden 34 1/2 St. and 11th Ave S
  • West Side – Friday Aug 11th, 5:30 – 7:30 – La Puerta Abierta Church
  • Lyndale – Wednesday Aug 16th, 5:30 – 7:30 – Zion Lutheran Church

Furthermore, Northside/Hawthorne will be hosting/collaborating on a series of “BIG Dinner Party” events throughout the remainder if the summer and into the fall that you will hear more about soon.

Thanks to all the hard work and support of our Youth Farmers and we look forward to continuing to use food as a catalyst for social change through the work we do.

St. Paul LEAD City Retreat

Last week, all the Project LEAD from St. Paul gathered for a three day “city” retreat to team build, plan for our Youth Farmer program, visit Philadelphia Farm, and soak up the sun at Lake Nokomis. Look at these delicious strawberries we picked at Philly Farm! In addition, we planted acorn squash, played with goats and chickens, and took a hike to a waterfall and native prairie.

Grow your community with Youth Farm – Join us for a Hoophouse Party!

The South Minneapolis team at Youth Farm would love to see our community at a hoop house party this Sunday April 16th from 1-3 pm. Help us clean up the hoop house and garden, eat food provided by Youth Farm, and spend time in good company.

Where: Youth Farm’s Green Central Hoophouse at Green Central Park. 3416 4th Ave S Minneapolis

When: Sunday April 16th from 1-3 pm

Who: Powderhorn and Central neighborhood residents with the Youth Farm family of teens and staff



Dreaming about spring!

Our Project LEAD teams are scheming and dreaming about spring-farm planning and food distribution planning. Here is a sneak peak of some of our plans.


How do we appreciate Theo? Let us count a few of the ways

Youth farm: all grown up! From 2008 to 2016! Pictured: Theo, Thierno, Raquel, Amm-Ra, Charlot, Asiya, and one other cute little YF'er back in the day



Maimouna, “Theo is always patient with everyone. He’s respectful, genuine, and very appreciative. He’s just a super laid back guy and there is never an issue with him.”

Amm-Ra, “Theo always has a positive attitude even in stressful situations.”

Ellesha, “He treats everyone equally no matter who they are. Also, he is good at riddles.”

Raquel, “I would say he’s a very genuine and caring guy that is always chill but never too cool to do goofy things and make connections with anyone.”

Phil, “When he gets excited about something his whole face and eyes light up and he gets a little flush. It is so fun to see and I know he is going to grab hold of his passions and carry them forward.”

Liv, “He’s very kind and protective of the people he cares about.”

Harrison, “He’s like the big brother of Youth Farm.”

Zo, “I appreciate how he’s always been able to connect to kids and he always can calm people down and doesn’t have to say something for you to know you’re important.”

*This post is part of a series of posts recognizing Youth Farm’s graduating seniors. It was written by Powderhorn staff*

Maimouna Making Moves

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Maimouna Muhammad is the epitome of an empowered young women! She is a true leader, not just at Youth Farm, where she helps grow youth leaders of the next generation, but in her community as well, where she’s making moves for social justice. When Maimouna first came to Youth Farm in 2012, she was a volunteer that fell in love with the work we do, and would ask for a job at any turn, the whole while proving her worth and enthusiasm for youth work. She is determined and hard working, and has the drive to achieve whatever she sets her mind to.
At Youth Farm, in her youth leadership role, Maimouna has a very powerful presence and influence on the youth and everyone that she works with. She leads by example by putting in work where it’s needed, and people gravitate towards her presence and want to listen to her. She helps create such a welcoming environment by talking and engaging with the youth in a friendly way. If something goes wrong, she helps to mediate situations very respectfully. She is very caring, but firm, wanting what’s best for everyone and making sure everyone has a good understanding of each other. She’s calm and collected with a very good energy about her.
Maimouna knows herself, and she knows her worth. She puts her efforts towards raising her voice and being an activist to the cause of social justice. She is apart of organizations such as Voices for Social Justice, the Black Liberation Project, as well as the Black Lives Matter movement.
Youth Farm has enjoyed many laughs and revolutions with Maimouna Muhammad on our team these last four years.
*This post is part of a series of posts recognizing Youth Farm’s graduating seniors. It was written by Farm Steward Zainab Youngmark*

Charlot-Man of Epic Tales

If you have been to a Powderhorn Youth Farm program or community event in the last 8 years chances are you have met Charlot and experienced the creative expression that has been the hallmark of his time at Youth Farm. Charlot began his Youth Farm journey in 2008. His early years in the program included trips to Farm Camp and days spent reading while gardening (yes, WHILE gardening…and walking….and eating). His love of a good book fueled his creative expressions. Soon he was not reading others’ tales, but writing his own and incorporating his creative expressions into Youth Farm focus groups like the zine group, martial arts, and movement and dance. Throughout the years, he was often seen with a younger group of Youth Farmers, inspiring and mentoring them to also follow their own creative passions.

Not only did Charlot pave his own path but he also found ways to apply creativity to the Youth Farm way of doing youth work. He plays dodge ball without touching the ball, applies permaculture practices to the redesign of our farm spaces, and incorporates finger weaving into after school cooking classes.

While I have known Charlot for years and have been witness to the talents of this “man of epic tales”, I had the honor this year to work side by side with Charlot in the Powderhorn neighborhood. I experienced firsthand his dedication to his community as he poured time and energy into redesigning our Ba’hai Farm space (a space he has contributed to for the last 5 years). I learned from him the best practices and things that make the Powderhorn program unique. He supported the program as we transitioned in new staff helping to build our Green Central hoop house and stepping into increased leadership roles leading his own farm groups and focus groups. He mentored younger Project LEAD demonstrating dedication, thoughtfulness, and a passion to make his community better through creativity and hard work.

While Charlot’s official time at Youth Farm comes to a close as he moves on to college, he has left a lasting mark on our Powderhorn Program. His contributions helped to foster a culture of creativity that makes the program uniquely Powderhorn.



*This post is part of a series of posts recognizing Youth Farm’s graduating seniors. It was written by Associate Director Amanda Stoelb*


Snapshots of St. Paul Youth Farm


From top left clockwise: West Side Youth Farmers meet with LEAD staff Heaven to plan out afternoon focus groups, Frogtown bikers head off to morning garden time, West Side youth enjoy an afternoon get you know you game, and Frogtown YF plays capture the flag at new partner site Frogtown Farms.

Thank You Amm-Ra!

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You wouldn’t think that running uphill on all fours would be fun after gardening all morning, But it’s a common event during Powderhorn lunchtimes. Amm-ra started these quadruped races and when not playing himself is often talking or sketching with the youth. Drawings are brought out and discussed, tips given, jokes and stories told. The group breaks down in the mad rush after seconds are called, but re-forms around Amm-ra in a few minutes. He is a steady presence, going about the tasks of the day with a wry grin and a joke. His humor and engagement brings many together, making the work light and the days memorable.

I’ve worked with Amm-ra for three years and known him for many more. He brings his ideas and dedication to the community as a whole, working as an artist and actor at Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask theater, as staff for Adventures in Cardboard and all around volunteer-about-powderhorn.

He’s been a longtime participant of Youth Farm, a fixture of the program we have come to count on. He started Youth Farm 2008 as the Comi-con King of Baha’i farm, and has been consistent, from participant to All-Star to LEAD, working tirelessly on what ever is the task at hand. It has been my privilege to work, and play, with him as he grew into the LEAD staff we are proud of today.

Amm-ra has graduated from South and plans to attend MCTC and keep himself involved in the Powderhorn community in the fall, but until then… Here’s to one more summer of running up hills.

*This post is part of a series of posts recognizing Youth Farm’s graduating seniors. It was written by Powderhorn Project LEAD Charlot Shaw*

Calla-a passion for all things food

Calla started at Youth Farm as a participant in the West Side summer program in 2012. She spent her first day that summer looking bored, not participating, and projecting a “too cool” persona. After transitioning to the All-Star group later that week her interests, skills, and passions started to show.  That summer she took on every leadership opportunity available to her. She then applied to be a part of the LEAD program and quickly became an active member of the West Side staff team.

Calla has a passion for all things related to food and especially for being in the Youth Farm kitchen.  Her dedication to cooking is apparent to anyone who has had the pleasure of working through a menu with her. This past summer Calla contributed to our program’s success in numerous ways, most notably as the direct apprentice to our summer chef and also as an activity group leader. She started her days in the kitchen washing and chopping produce, preparing work stations, and teaching youth as young as 9 years old how to cook. Calla, along with the summer Chef and 4-5 youth prepared the lunches that fueled our summer program. A program that regularly had 70 or more youth and staff, many of them lining up immediately for seconds. After lunch she transitioned to leading an afternoon activity group called “The Adventurers”. To help create a welcoming community, a cornerstone of good youth work, Calla created individual journals for each of the youth in her group so they could track their summer time learning and fun.

Calla is graduating this year from Highland Park Senior High School in St. Paul.  This fall Calla will be enrolled at the University of Minnesota, specifically in the Food Systems program within the College of Food, Agriculture, and Natural Resource Sciences..  We wish her the best and look forward to her returning to YF to share her new knowledge.  

Calla, hiding behind some Youth Farm bell peppers as she works her magic in the kitchen



*This post is part of a series of posts recognizing Youth Farm’s graduating seniors. It was written by former West Side Program Director Tyler Berres*