Written by Elena Haynes, a student with the HECUA at the University of Minnesota who is interning with YFMP in Hawthorne Neighborhood.

For the past two months I have been interning with JP Mason at the North Minneapolis Hawthorne Site of Youth Farm and Market Project. This internship has been an incredible experience, and I have absolutely loved getting to learn more about farming, youth development and leadership programming, and the role that food can play within a community.

Youth making pancakes in Kids Cook, a Youth Farm and Market Project class offered through the YMCA Beacons program at Nellie Stone Johnson Community School in Hawthorne Neighborhood.

I was able to apply for this internship due to my participation this semester in a program called HECUA.  I am a senior in Anthropology and US Race and Ethnicity at the University of Minnesota, and HECUA is an inter-school program within the Twin Cities that any college student is able to apply for. HECUA has many programs, and I applied for their program called “Inequality in America” that focuses on in depth study of the structural inequalities that create privilege in the US, historically and in the present. This program pairs the studying in the classroom with an internship with a local non-profit organization that is working to address those inequalities. I chose YFMP due to my long standing interest in community organizing, food access, and the role that urban farming can play in creating community led access to healthy foods in communities.

At my internship, I’ve been helping prepare lesson plans and lead afterschool programing at Nellie Stone Johnson, hang out with the awesome LEAD, help out and prepare projects for the All Stars, and research Composting at Nellie Stone. In addition, I’ve definitely gotten my hands dirty working on the farms both at Nellie Stone and at St. Olaf. All of this has been done while also reflecting on what healthy foods mean, and the affect that inequality in access can have. While working on the Northside I am able to see the grassroots work that is being done with coalitions such as Northside Fresh and at Youth Farm with the youth. These youth are always excited to cook, to learn more about farming, and to get out in the community. They’re inspiring, and I’m so excited to be here.