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.




Frogtown + West Side = So Much Fun

Youth Farm has 5 different Neighborhood Programs throughout the Twin Cities.  Each summer we like to get together for a day of fun with our counterparts.  Last Friday the Frogtown and West Side Programs had a St. Paul Picnic at Cherokee Park.  We played and played and played, ate a wonderful summer lunch topped with Youth Farm veggies, and partook in some friendly competition of capture the flag.

Highlights were basketball, lightening, drip-drip-splash, soccer, wiffle-ball, water balloons, chalk art, and the scavenger hunt for  Tyler’s Gold – complete with clues and take home golden nuggets.


West Side Pride! 

West Side Youth Farm has been rocking-it in the gardens, kitchen, and all afternoon.  We have harvested produce for almost every lunch so far this summer and awarded countless garden skill wristbands. This Friday we’ll be rallying around our compost and setting ourselves up for success for a solid push to win the coveted Compost Cup.  Lastly lunch has been extremely tasty.


Seed Bombs of Peace

The afternoon artists in Hawthorne have had some fun as well as thoughtful activities. These last few weeks they’ve been exploring questions around the purpose of art in the community and how that relates to their own self-expression. As a result, they have made some incredibly creative clay figures and tye-dye shirts to explore their unique talents and styles. Today they took those elements of self-expression out into the neighboring blocks of our gardens. With some clay, compost, water and native, beneficial seeds they assembled “seed bombs” to plant in the empty lots and exposed earth. Their hope is that the colorful flowers and plants will allow the “Youth Farm love” to extend beyond our garden fences.

Bunny in a Basket
Bunny in a Basket
Tye Dye!
Tye Dye!

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!

Lost in the Warehouse


Last night Lyndale and Frogtown Project LEAD had the opportunity to tour Coop Partners Warehouse. “What’s interesting about a warehouse tour?” you might ask. Well, our crew got to chew on limequats, taste test local and california carrots, advocate for employment in produce quality control, raid the free distribution stacks of produce, see where we source summer lunch ingredients, run from banana spiders, and breakdown the economics of food production. It was an incredibly interesting and FUN field trip hosted by Rhys Williams, who is a great friend to Youth Farm and the local food movement. Thanks Rhys and CPW!

SOCC Holiday Carrots & Cookies!

Hawthorne LEAD had a great time prepping and baking over 300 cookies for St. Olaf’s annual cookie bake! We made 7 different varieties of cookies, 2 of them featuring Hawthorne produce: carrots & zucchini. Those carrots were harvested on November 24th!

Holiday Carrots!

Our favorite cookie was the No Bake variety. Here’s our recipe:

Bring to a boil: 2 cups sugar, 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder, 1/2 cup butter (softened) and 1/2 cup milk.

In a bowl, get ready: 1/2 cup peanutbutter, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 3 cups oats and 1/ teaspoon salt.

When the sugar/cocoa/butter/milk is at a good boil, dump in the bowl of the other stuff, quickly mix well and start dropping 1-2 Tablespoon sized cookies onto wax paper immediately. It gets hard kind of quick, so be ready. Let them set for 20-30 minutes, then refrigerate or eat. For style points, sprinkle with crushed peanuts, sea salt and/or powdered sugar. Makes a dozen or so…

Lyndale Fall Dinner

By Shanna Woods

The Thursday youth farm cooking class held their fall 2014 community dinner November 20th at Zion Church to celebrate the end of the season. The youth planned a dinner to feed families, community partners, and friends using fun meal ideas and seasonality. The youth landed on tacos with Cole slaw garnish with their favorite miso Kale salad.  Food used came from the various Lyndale youth farm gardens like cabbage, kale, and garlic and was based off foods harvested during the fall. The youth worked for two hours preparing the food to feed 65 people who attended which included our lovely space sharers LNA English language learners. The students had the opportunity to enjoy a meal with the youth farmers as well as engage in fun, lively conversations with the youth and their families. The evening helped the students practice their English skills, get to know young people, and enjoy foods freshly and skillfully prepared by youth in their community.

The event was such a fun way for the youth to showcase what foods they enjoyed over the 8 week sessions, brag about their field trips, explained food they preserved, and demonstrate their cooking skills. We are on break from cooking class until January 2015. We look forward to beginning new classes this winter with another community dinner to wrap up an anticipated, fun session.