The Lyndale Neighborhood Association and Zion Lutheran Church: Keeping South Minneapolis Youth & Neighborhoods Engaged

Although Youth Farm is no longer offering direct programming in South Minneapolis, there is still so much going on throughout the community.

Zion Lutheran Church, whose building houses Youth Farm’s Minneapolis office, has been hosting the Lyndale Community Dinner on Wednesday nights for close to 20 years. Over the years, pieces of the dinner have changed to better fit the needs of those who live in the neighborhood. Zion’s leadership feels this dinner is an important community building aspect of the Lyndale neighborhood and values their partnerships with the Lyndale Neighborhood Association (LNA), Youth Farm, and many other neighborhood entities. Zion and LNA have been long-time partners of Youth Farm and they have also been long-time partners of each other, now organizing the Lyndale Community Dinner together. This dinner offers a space for members of the Lyndale neighborhood to come together for a wholesome, fresh, and pay-what-you-can meal served alongside great conversation and community activities.

On Wednesday, June 5th Zion and LNA hosted the first outdoor dinner of the year, offering fresh grilled burgers, veggie burgers, and hot dogs.

Alison Hoyer, the Food Access and Environmental Justice Community Organizer from LNA, has worked hard in conjunction with members of Zion’s congregation to ensure that fresh and colorful produce is reaching the plates of community members.

“We have recently partnered with Co-Op Partners Warehouse and I collect produce from them on Tuesdays before the dinner,” Alison said. “These donations have been awesome because we can include fresh produce in our dinners as well as offer any leftovers for people to take home with them.”

The spread of produce and bread from local partners that neighborhood residents are able to take home with them.

As well as including produce from co-op partners, the Lyndale Community Dinner also strives to include neighborhood-grown produce from the garden located at the Charles Horn Towers. Alison, along with former Youth Farmer, Haakon Anderson, manage the garden and ensure that the crops produced there go right back into the community. This garden-to-table project of LNA aims to bring community together and create access to wholesome, locally-grown produce.  

Not only is the Lyndale Community Dinner a great place for neighbors to come together and eat, it is also a great opportunity for youth and adults alike to get involved in their community. Each dinner includes activities for anyone to participate in ranging from BINGO and board games to free bike tune ups and blood pressure checks. Along with these activities, the dinner also offers a space for community members to volunteer. Haakon Anderson is a great example of youth getting involved in volunteer opportunities like this. Not only does he help manage the garden that grows produce for the dinner, he also helps serve and clean up.

After his time at Youth Farm came to an end, Haakon took it upon himself to stay engaged in neighborhood activities.

“I’ve stayed involved with a lot of things throughout the neighborhood,” Haakon said. “I grew up in Youth Farm and have continued to love gardening. I now volunteer at the CHT garden and help Alison manage it. I also love serving at the Lyndale Community Dinner because it’s not only fun, but I see a lot of people I know from the neighborhood.”

It’s easy to see that Haakon has a passion for the Lyndale neighborhood, especially the kids. “Through working at Youth Farm, I realized how much I loved working with kids and being a leader. I am thinking about going to school to become a teacher,” he said. Volunteering with the community dinners has allowed Haakon to continue to engage with kids from throughout the neighborhood, several of which were also Youth Farmers.

Haakon (second from left) and Alison (left) serve up homemade salads to community members.

Youth Farm is very proud to see the ways in which our community partners and former South Minneapolis participants are continuing to be a shining light in the neighborhood. These partners are also helping current Youth Farmers be present in South Minneapolis neighborhoods. On June 19th, the North Minneapolis Youth Farm team will be cooking and serving at the Lyndale Community Dinner. Although we no longer have direct programs in South Minneapolis, we are thankful to our partners like LNA and Zion for keeping us engaged. However, we are even more thankful that they are keeping the community and youth engaged in their neighborhoods.

The Lyndale Community Dinner takes place every Wednesday night at 6 pm at Zion Lutheran Church. For more information about the dinner please visit Zion’s website: or Facebook page: and for weekly menus check out the Lyndale Community Dinner Facebook page:

For Lyndale Community Dinner volunteer opportunities please contact and sign up online at to get your hands dirty for the Garden-to-Table Project of the Lyndale Neighborhood Association.

What’s changing around Youth Farm?

Just as our youth grow and change through the years, so do we as an organization. Now entering our 25th year of serving youth throughout Minneapolis and St. Paul, here at Youth Farm we are taking on some major changes, aiming to increase our program quality and impact.

There are currently three key programmatic and organizational changes taking place at Youth Farm:

  1. Due to our capacity and the desire to fully capitalize on it, we have recently narrowed our focus to serve three specific areas: 1) school partnerships, 2) the St. Paul neighborhoods of Frogtown and the West Side, and 3) North Minneapolis. How we engage groups in each of these three areas will look different, but this narrowed focus will allow us to be more dynamic and build off of a variety of partnerships.
  2. Secondly, as we focus on this narrowed scope, we have decided not to run a traditional 4-8 week “summer program” in any of the neighborhoods we serve. Instead, we are transitioning to “growing season” programming. At Youth Farm, our growing season typically takes place during the months of April through October. Our focus on quality year-round programming will allow us to reach more youth with the least access to quality youth development opportunities and engage these youth in new ways.
  3. Finally, although we are sad to see an era come to an end, we have decided to move out of the South Minneapolis neighborhoods of Lyndale and Powderhorn. We will no longer be running direct programs in these neighborhoods, but strive to continue our impact through consulting long-term partners like the Lyndale Neighborhood Association and Lyndale Community School as they take over the maintenance of previous Youth Farm gardens.

As an organization, we understand that these changes may come as a shock to some people, but we would not be making them if we didn’t truly believe in the positive impact they will make. We strive to always do the highest quality work and came to the realization that maintaining gardens and programs at six sites in South Minneapolis was simply beyond our capacity.

In addition to supporting our South Minneapolis partners as they take over these spaces, we will continue to work with and employ a number of our South Minneapolis Project LEAD that have worked in the Lyndale and Powderhorn neighborhoods in the past, finding new opportunities for them in North Minneapolis and St. Paul.

We are excited to see how Youth Farm evolves and grows and will continue to communicate how this manifests over time.

Slow Roll 2019 Kick-off

Slow Roll Twin Cities is a project of the Cultural Wellness Center that empowers people to rediscover, reconnect, and reimagine their communities together, on bicycles. The ride helps to build healthy, economically vibrant, connected, and people-centered cities and the 2019 kick-off ride on Monday, June 3rd did just that! We were lucky to have beautiful weather, great music mixed by DJ SciPreme, and some seriously delicious food served by Zamaya Delicious Catering. Youth Farm is a committed partner in organizing this event alongside several other organizations, musicians, chefs, and community organizers.

Ride leaders review safety and riding hand signals before the group heads out.

Monday night’s ride was attended by young and old alike. The Loppet Foundation did an awesome job assisting riders with free bike rentals and tune ups. After everyone was outfitted and ready to go, the ride leaders led the way and the group took off to ride through North Minneapolis neighborhoods, stopping at local businesses and landmarks to learn more about the city’s rich history and culture.

Youth Farm’s North Minneapolis Program Director, Marcus, and Farm Steward, Sergio, ready to welcome back riders.

The ride started and ended at the University of Minnesota-UROC building. As riders came back, they were greeted by fresh food and music. Youth Farm’s North Minneapolis Program Director, Marcus Kar, alongside our North Minneapolis Project LEAD and Farm Steward staff have been and will continue to coordinate music and food for the Slow Roll 2019 season. Participating in this vibrant community event allows youth to meet people within the neighborhoods in which they are growing and leading. By making these connections, youth are better equipped to lead conversations surrounding social, racial, economic, and environmental justice.

Riders were greeted by this colorful spread provided and served by Zamaya Delicious Catering.

This summer, Slow Roll Twin Cities will take place every Monday night at various locations throughout North Minneapolis. Each night will feature a fun, safe, and inclusive bike ride for all community members as well as music and food. For more information and location announcements please visit

Joining the Conversation: Environmental Justice in Minnesota

Local artists also attended the community conversation and created a beautiful display of the speakers and their causes.

Minnesota has long been known as a leader in tackling climate change and last night Congresswoman Ilhan Omar lead the way at a community conversation with other environmental leaders regarding environmental justice in our state.

Youth Farm’s North Minneapolis Program Director Marcus Kar was joined by Program LEAD staff member Michael to attend this groundbreaking conversation. Kar makes it a priority to expose all of the Youth Farmers, Program LEAD, and Farm Stewards he works with to the environmental issues surrounding them. Connecting these issues to the work Youth Farm is doing is fundamental. Providing access to urban gardening, fresh and local produce, and quality outdoor youth programming are some of our top priorities. The time is always right to also provide youth the connections they need to link these activities to the environmental justice movement that they are ultimately involving themselves in.

North Minneapolis Program Director, Marcus Kar (left), pictured with Program LEAD, Micheal (center), and environmental justice leader and speaker at last night’s conversation, Tara Houska.

Welcome School Partnership Coordinator Jordyn Ryan!

Youth Farm is excited to welcome our first School Partnership Coordinator Jordyn Ryan! Jordyn joined the Youth Farm team as a 9 year old participant in the West Side Program. Through the years she has taken on many roles at Youth Farm including roles as a Project LEAD and Farm Steward on the West Side. Jordyn recently received her degree in Elementary Education from UW River Falls. She brings a unique combination of skills including knowledge of classroom learning, curriculum development skills, and youth development skills to the role.

Jordyn’s role allows Youth Farm to build off of the strong school partnerships we currently hav to develop a model that reaches more students, teachers, and community members. Jordyn’s work includes supporting current school partnerships at Nellie Stone Johnson Community School, Lyndale School, Green Central School, Jackson Elementary School, Humboldt High School, Open World Learning Community, Northeast College Prep, and Cherokee Heights Elementary while also developing a model to support other schools to use food as a tool for youth development, social emotional learning, and academic success.

Welcome Jordyn! We are excited for you to move Youth Farm’s school partnership work forward.

Congratulations Jesus!

Youth Farm is excited to announce Jesus Perez as our new Manager of South Minneapolis Programs! Jesus has been involved in the Lyndale Youth Farm Program for over 10 years as a youth participant, Project LEAD staff, and South Minneapolis Farm Steward.  As part of the inaugural Farm Stewards Program in 2011, he helped to develop the program into what it is today, he worked with partners at Green Central and Lyndale School to build hoop houses and facilitate programming, organized in the Whittier Neighborhood, and hosted Lyndale’s popular Thursday cooking program while recruiting and developing relationships with youth.

Jesus is a compassionate and thoughtful youth worker. He brings creativity to the classes he facilitates, humor and mentorship to our staff team, and an eagerness to learn from the youth he serves and the community partners he works alongside.

Jesus will be the main contact for all Lyndale and Whittier programs and play a support role in Powderhorn and Central programs. We are honored that he chose to share his talents with Youth Farm and excited to see what he brings to the youth of South Minneapolis in his new role.  Congratulations Jesus!

A few snapshots of Jesus over the years!

Cooking in 2012

Farming in 2010

Building Hoop houses in 2016

Cooking Up A Storm

The Youth Farmers in our Humboldt/OWL cooking class have been cooking up a storm every Monday and Wednesday, so you can thank them for the snow! We recently made a big batch of Korean Black Noodles and rolled a bunch of sushi. Good food, good folks.img_0297

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Wellstone cooking class has begun!

The St. Paul team of farm stewards, interns, and LEAD are up and running in the Wellstone kitchen, to start up our community cooking class. Last week we made a big pot of vegetarian chili, corn bread, and an apple pie!

All are welcome to join the class, every Tuesday 4-7pm. And if you’re around at that time, stop by the commercial kitchen to say hello and share a meal with us.

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Final Fall Harvest on the West Side

The crazy warm weather has allowed for harvesting produce far into fall. We have harvested the last of our kale, peppers, winter squash, radishes, kohlrabi, and collard greens. A work group from Conservation Corps joined us early on a Saturday to harvest 120 pounds of food! Some of the produce has been used in our cooking class at Humboldt/OWL, some has gone home with Youth Farmers and work groups, and the rest has been donated to the food shelf. The farms on the West Side are officially put to sleep until the spring!

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Youth Farmer in a Photo Contest!

The Minnesota Valley Wildlife Refuge is hosting a Youth Photo Contest and Lily, a Youth Farmer in Frogtown, is a participant! She took this photo of a Monarch Butterfly this summer during a Fun Friday activity at Como Lake.


Here’s how to vote for Lily’s amazing photo!

1. Go to the MNVNWR’s Facebook page (link below)

Minnesota Valley NWR Facebook

2. Scroll down and click the “Youth Photography Contest” album OR click the link below 


3. Click “like” for the photo(s) you want to vote for!

Three photos with the highest number of likes will receive prizes during an Art Reception held on Saturday November 12th, however all submissions will be mentioned.

The online voting will go until morning of Thursday, November 10th.