Hundreds of plant starts, ready to be planted (2023)

In the heart of North Minneapolis, a powerful movement is taking root. For the last day of our Fresh Start campaign, we’re returning our focus to Youth Farm – this time, our team on the Northside.

Youth Farm programming in North Minneapolis is led by Program Director, Marcus Kar, and team of young leaders who are transforming the story around food and quality of life on the Northside.

I spoke with Project LEAD, Jesse, about his experience growing up and working on the Northside. “Growing up was pretty fun. Me and my cousin used to go to the park and just play around, ride our bikes, go and play basketball, go to the park. We was always outdoors doing stuff, it was pretty fun.”

Project LEAD, Michael, teaching how to transplant a seedling (2022)

In many conversations about the Northside, it gets dubbed a “food desert” due to the lack of access to fresh and nutritious food. This phenomenon is not naturally occurring. It is due to a long history of systemic displacement and disinvestment in the area – an intentional and systemic process of segregation. For this reason, when we talk about food access in areas of the Twin Cities populated by primarily Black and Indigenous people, we use the term food apartheid.

The work of the Northside team is all about investing in our own communities and working to keep resources in the neighborhoods that need it most. We provide hands-on agricultural and nutrition education, all while working to support youth leadership development. As a result, we’re fostering sustainable local food systems and empowering young individuals to become agents of change.

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Jesse in cooking class (2nd from right) (2018)

Jesse has been a part of this team since he was very young. “I first started [Youth Farm] in elementary. Mr. Marcus had come for a cooking class and I just got hooked onto the cooking class.” Over the years, Jesse stayed involved in Youth Farm programs. Now, as a Project LEAD, he is playing a major role in growing multiple acres of urban farmland on the Northside, providing fresh produce for his friends, family, and neighbors.

Jesse (left) at Earth Day Cleanup (2023)

By empowering young individuals to grow and share food, we are not only addressing immediate needs but also sowing the seeds for a sustainable and just future. “Gardening made me look at nature in a different way, nature is not just big trees. Everything is nature around you.” By shifting the story and perspectives young people have on their environment, we can build a more sustainable and equitable future.

Thank you for your support of Youth Farm. Together, we can sow the seeds of change, nourish our communities, and cultivate a future where every young person thrives. Join us on this journey of growth and transformation today.

Thank you!
Pedro A. Bayón

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