Youth Farm is honored to be named one of the top 15 most impactful food organizations in Minnesota in the latest MN Sights Magazine, and highlighted as one of the only Youth focused organizations on the list. All of us at Youth Farm take our role as healthy food growers, distributors, cookers, and eaters seriously. All of these roles within our neighborhoods are important roles of stewardship that should not be seen as isolated from community, but integrated into all that we do and who we are. Come visit one of our sites this summer and check it out in action.
Last Tuesday, Youth Farmers in Frogtown prepared and served food at the annual Black History Month Celebration at the Jimmy Lee Rec Center. Highlights of the event included playing in the bounce castle, meeting new people, making art, and of course, the delicious food!
Youth Farm and Market Project kicked off 2013 with our annual LEAD retreat. This year the retreat agenda focused on seasonal menus, farm planning, and working collaboratively between our 5 different neighborhoods. The collaboration started early by breaking into groups and cooking seasonal dishes – Saturday was our winter meal, filled with root vegetables and soups; Sunday was our summer meal with garden chili, salsas, and salads. With bellies filled we were ready to dive into farm planning.
This past fall YFMP conducted an organizational inquiry into the how, why, and who we grow our food for resulting in a new set of goals around food distribution. One of the decisions those goals have led us to is a neighborhood-wide focus on growing all of the salad crops we will need for this summer. If you are not yet familiar with YFMP’s summer program this may not sound like a very difficult task – plant some seeds, harvest, add dressing, eat, and then play in the sun. For us it is a challenge of scale – over the summer on any given programming day we will be feeding around 260 Youth Farmers, All-Stars, LEAD Staff, summer adult staff, and any community members.
So how are we going to do it? The Lyndale and West Side Farm Stewards used the recipes from YFMP’s summer cookbook to turn all of those ingredient needs into “needed row feet” per salad crop. Then, after researching each of our neighborhoods growing abilities, (sun, soil, drainage, etc…) we “auctioned” off who would be growing what crops and when.
Sunday was highlighted with laughter, drama, mystery, and a few tears. Each neighborhood was given the task of presenting how they plan to distribute the food they grow in their neighborhood with a skit. One of my favorite things at YFMP is watching our LEAD be creative especially when they do impressions of fellow Program Directors.
Overall it was a great retreat and an opportunity for YFMP to start our year on a high note.
By Shanna Woods
This fall I got a chance to work along side of the Lyndale farm stewards and learn all the ways you end the growing season. This year we are took on the approach of preserving food to use for past the the first frost. It was so exciting learning how to can, freeze, and store food. Canned tomatoes and frozen bell peppers were used in a variety of dishes made by the All Things Food after school program from curry to salads! Putting beds to sleep with sustainable methods was another highlight of mine. It was interesting to explore sustainable and beneficial ways to end the season with cover crops and mulching with fallen leaves. So much planning for fully utilizing our gardens space and optimizing produce production was done as we looked upon our resting beds end envisioned exciting modifications. Moving forward into 2013, I am so stoked to implement conscious planning and design for our current gardens and new spaces especailly with our new hoop house!
Reflecting on fall and all the fun times from the Lyndale All Stars retreat, to the All Things Food family dinner and celebration, to garden and food distribution planning, it’s been an incredible season. I feel equipped and prepared to begin planning for a productive spring that will lead to a fun and engaging summer! Here’s to 2013!
Over the weekend the Lyndale Neighborhood Association and Youth Farm celebrated La Posada with over 300 community members. Our Project LEAD were all over the event! They developed the menu, flyered before the event, welcomed guests as they arrived, ran musical chairs, painted faces, served food, helped as Santa’s elves, and asked our community what we should grow this summer. The night before we even got a crew of youth together to bake over 500 cookies! Thanks to Taylor Shevey, Aryca Meyers, and Jesus Perez for all their coordinating of the event!
If you have not had a chance to learn about Roots for the Home Team, it is collaborative effort spearheaded by dietitian Sue Moores, involving Youth Farm and Market Project, Community Design Center, Emerge Community Development, and the Minnesota Twins. Watch this great video highlighting the great work the youth did this past summer selling Healthy Food at Target Field.
By Shanna Woods, Farm Steward
Since the age of eight I have been with Youth Farm. My evolution of involvement began as a youth farmer, to a Youth Farm Allstar, and then transitioned into a LEAD staff, and now a Farm Steward. Between the path of being a LEAD staff and Farm Steward I had checked out service and youth development in different capacities while always maintaining appreciation for the Youth Farm program.
This summer I returned back to Youth Farm after two years. It was awesome seeing how the program has maintained and enhanced its ability to teach urban youth the importance of developing healthy eating choices and knowing the origin of where their produce is from. This year was my first year of being an adult staff. I had the awesome opportunity to work the Allstars focus group.
The Allstars is an activity grouped geared toward the older youth of ages 12-14. The focus of the Allstars group is to provide fun opportunities to gain leadership, critical thinking, teamwork, and personal development skills. The Allstars received chances to provide input in operational planning of the program and contribution in community development events in their neighborhood. The Allstars had a a few big projects this summer. They coordinated a watered themed Fun Friday event for all the Youth Farmer with different games. They assisted with planning a community event alongside Lyndale Neighborhood Association. The event was restoring a community playground call Pocket Park that was in much need of attention and beautifying.
I was astonished at the ideas the young leaders had in mind for their different assigned tasks through the summer. I highly enjoyed the thoughtful conversations and discusses that took place on concepts of respect and cooperation. It was a blast to keep up with their energetic and fun spirits in games and downtime. I was very happy to work with a smart group of youth and future leaders of Youth Farm.
Intermedia Arts’ Our Turn youth program visited the Lyndale crew back in April for a garden tour and to learn about our work. There wasn’t much in the garden yet, but here are Jesus, Niani, and Nazeem talking about what they do at YFMP and how it connects to food justice.
West Side Youth Farmers got up early today to set up their stand at the farmers market. This is a brand new market located at the corner of George and Stryker in the “Icy Cup” parking lot. This week we have fresh collards, kale, yellow squash, and cucumbers. Other vendors are offering baked goods, tomatoes, and chickens. Please visit today between 9 and noon. We will be attending this market on a more regular basis as summer turns into fall. Hope to see you there.