In the Heart of Lyndale

Joe and Brandon helping Nora build the Lyndale School hoop house in fall 2012
Joe and Brandon helping Nora build the Lyndale School hoop house in fall 2012

Lyndale Elementary is not on Lyndale Avenue but sits deep in the heart of the Lyndale neighborhood. The neighborhood school has been a backbone of this community for many years and is a cornerstone partnership of Lyndale Youth Farm.

Lyndale Elementary boasts a school garden and hoop house run by Youth Farm. Over the last three years the garden has been entirely rebuilt and our partnership greatly expanded. The hoop house is the only one in the entire district and has expanded food production into the early spring and deep into fall. One of my favorite memories is harvesting a case of spinach from the hoop house, then stepping outside into a four inch May blizzard. The garden is surrounded by a beautiful fence hand painted by the Lyndale’s art class with the support of art teacher Ms. Leann Walker.

Community ed coordinator Steve Bonine has been recruiting students and providing space for our after school class for over a decade. In the class, students in grades 3-5 learn basic cooking skills using produce grown right outside the door. During the growing season, students join youth farm during their recess one day a week. This fall students in all grades have had the chance to improve our soil through cover crops and soil amendments and have gotten to harvest black beans, peppers, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, parsley, and cilantro. When the work is done we nibble on bits of mint and pick zinnias. Ms. Natasha, Mr. Dickerson, and the rest of the recess staff help keep an eye on the garden every day.

Lyndale Students unloading compost this fall
Lyndale Students unloading compost this fall

Starting last year we’ve been able to join culinary staff for taste tests, spreading our love of kale and bean salads. Those little points of contact get students ever more excited to connect their learning in far to what is on their plate. We even join the school at their evening events like the Lyndale School Carnival that was just held a couple weeks ago. Students, parents, teachers, and younger siblings had the opportunity to eat up some tasty Youth Farm chili and soup with proceeds going right to the school. We also had a cooking activity station with older students making a fresh salsa verde and younger children mixing up their own salad dressing.

Our work wouldn’t be possible without support from school leaders Principal Renee James and Vice-Principal Aaron Arredondo, as well as PTA president Carrie Swanson who is also a youth farm parent. Last year this team worked with parent Megan Elliasen to get a healthy kids grant for the school and garden. The grant supported the addition of drip lines to the garden, saving youth farmers loads of time in the summer.

Thank you so much to Lyndale Elementary for all you do supporting Lyndale students and our partnership.

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