We are only as strong as our connections to one another. At Youth Farm, our mission is to seed, nurture, and tend to these connections in every aspect of our work; through our programs, students, plants, and all of the other resources at our disposal. This year, our fundraiser highlights work in our lovely St. Paul Greenhouse, located next to Cherokee Heights Elementary School.
My name is Pedro Antonio Bayón, I’m a Farm Steward at Youth Farm. I work in the Greenhouse alongside Program Manager AJ Zozulin and Farm Steward Interns Karla Moreno Polanco and Tomini Ola.
While interviewing my team about their work at Youth Farm, Karla shared that he found community on the West Side through his work at Youth Farm.
“Moving from, Phoenix, AZ (which is a very big Latino community) to the Macalaster-Groveland area was a big change. During my first year at Mac, I was especially missing that feeling of community. So, working on the West Side and building a relationship to that neighborhood has been very important for me to feel more comfortable living in Saint Paul…It feels important for me to be able to serve the community in some way. It feels important to be able to give something back.”
We all came to Youth Farm at different times for different reasons, but what connects us all to this work is that we are making a difference in our beloved community by providing fresh produce.
Over the past years, Minnesotans have drastically increased the number of visits made to food shelves. In just this past year, Minnesotan families broke the state record for most food shelf visits within a calendar year, a staggering 5,505,100¹.
This statistic is just the tip of the iceberg surrounding the topic of food access/inequality across our beloved state. In Saint Paul, the neighborhoods Youth Farm works in (the West Side and Frogtown) are hit particularly hard by this. By distributing free plant starts and growing food, we’re increasing food access not only in St. Paul, but in the Twin Cities as a whole.
Since the inception of our living room-sized Greenhouse in 2017, our St. Paul team has been able to seed, nurture, and distribute over 53,000 plants of different varieties across the Twin Cities, selected by the Farm Team and partners alike. After a few months of care, the plants we grow are distributed free of charge via our close partnerships with many organizations and schools across the Twin Cities.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve had to the opportunity to speak with some of these partners, as well as the youth and staff here at Youth Farm, to gather and share stories about their work and how free plant starts are impacting ourthe communities we are all a part of.
I hope you’ll stay tuned, share these stories with your friends, family, neighbors – those in your community who care about this work – and if you’re able, donate to our fundraiser. We’re hoping to raise $8,000 dollars this week, and we can’t do it without you. Join us!
Talk to you tomorrow,
- “2022 Food Shelf Visits Hit Record High.” Hunger Solutions, 8 Feb. 2023, www.hungersolutions.org/data-posts/2022-food-shelf-visits-hit-record-high-up-almost-2-million-visits-over-previous-year/.