Youth in Frogtown participate in cooking class

YFMP is honored to be one of only 27 organizations nation-wide to be awarded a 2011 Community Foods Project grant through the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). While we alluded to it in our winter fundraising appeal, YFMP’s proposal focuses on Creating a youth led food movement in the Twin Cities by increasing food production and neighborhood capacity in low income neighborhoods. The majority of this movement building focuses on YFMP’s expansion efforts in the Hawthorne Neighborhood in N. Minneapolis and the Frogtown Neighborhood in St. Paul, as well as supporting the creation of our next stage of our progressive programming model, Farm Stewards.

Youth in Hawthorne work in Hoop House in spring 2012

YFMP’s expansion efforts in Hawthorne and Frogtown aim to reach an additional 300 youth and double our produce output by 2014. But a food movement is more than just numbers of youth and pounds of local produce, it’s about culture change; something that does not happen overnight and does not happen by inserting oneself into the food conversation. YFMP’s progress in Lyndale, Powderhorn, and the West Side over the last decade has been successful by putting youth in positions to have tangible impact on their neighborhood through food. That impact happens not just through the thousands of pounds of food distributed in each neighborhood, but through neighborhood level planning and leadership both in and outside of YFMP. We look forward to engaging the youths of the Frogtown and Hawthorne neighborhoods in a way that puts their ideas, solutions, creativity and hard work at the forefront of their neighborhood.

Spring crops planted by Farm Stewards

YFMP’s Farm Stewards Program started in October 2011 and is a natural extension of our progressive programming model, providing YFMP “graduates” ages 19-24 with employment and professional development opportunities after high school focusing on leadership and food justice. Farm Stewards work year-round, growing and distributing food via greenhouses, hoop houses, and eventually on the farms in all five neighborhoods, although right now they are focused on West Side and Lyndale. Additionally, Farm Stewards teach weekly classes allowing YFMP to serve more youth. Not only are Farm Stewards entrepreneurs who engage in food systems directly through the business of growing and selling commercially viable specialty crops, they are advocates for food access and justice in each neighborhood by honing community organizing and leadership skills.

The full press release from the USDA can be found here.