Today myself and awesome Hawthorne All Star Breonna drove around the northside jamming to the radio and delivering veggies to Youth Farm families. Summer program feels like such a long time ago (just last week!), so it was great to see familiar faces and celebrate giant heads of cauliflower together. The residents at St. Olaf were quite excited about their first tomatoes too! The fridges are once again bare and ready for Friday’s harvest. YES!
The highlight of our week was that our former staff and well-loved friend Antonio has returned to us for the week. Last winter, Antonio had to leave his position as a Project LEAD to move with his family to Red Wing. He has been sorely missed by everyone in Hawthorne. This week he has returned with his usual enthusiasm to do everything and anything, especially games and fun activities that uplift everyone. Thanks for coming to visit us Antonio!!
Wednesdays are a busy day in Hawthorne. We are averaging over 100lbs of produce for just that day of the week! In the afternoons, we split up into 3 cohorts who make breakfast, preserve a little of summer for the winter months and prepare the rest to give away to youth and St.Olaf elders. Today youth made zucchini bread for breakfast next week (5 loaves!!), some rhubarb jam to be squirreled away for later (an icecream topping perhaps??) and packed up over 20 shares to distribute! It’s such a fun day to celebrate our hard work all week.
The afternoon artists in Hawthorne have had some fun as well as thoughtful activities. These last few weeks they’ve been exploring questions around the purpose of art in the community and how that relates to their own self-expression. As a result, they have made some incredibly creative clay figures and tye-dye shirts to explore their unique talents and styles. Today they took those elements of self-expression out into the neighboring blocks of our gardens. With some clay, compost, water and native, beneficial seeds they assembled “seed bombs” to plant in the empty lots and exposed earth. Their hope is that the colorful flowers and plants will allow the “Youth Farm love” to extend beyond our garden fences.
Last Tuesday our All Stars cooked up some delicious smoothies and chicken tacos with all the fixings for the elders at North Oaks Assisted Living. In the weeks leading up to the dinner, the All Stars, with the help of the LEAD, carefully planned out what they were going to make, how it was going to be prepared and they even went a little shopping spree to pick up the ingredients. Everyone had a good time getting to know one another and getting reacquainted over some good food. In our reflection afterwards, the All Stars were excited about the experience of showing off their cooking skills and having people like the food they prepared. Everyone is ready for the next feast and for the garden to produce abundance for our Wednesday distributions that the All Stars will carry into the summer.
On Tuesday, we had our last All Stars cooking class of the winter and it was packed full of silliness and camaraderie. At the end, we reflected on different ways that we had seen our group agreement in action. Here’s what the group had to say (between mouthfuls of Mac & Cheese and Miso Kale Salad):
At Youth Farm we talk a lot about how we are very much like family, so it was no surprise that Monday’s Guest Chef at our LEAD Meeting was none other than my dad, Mike McDaniel. He is an avid canner who makes about 800 jars of salsa and applesauce for each of his clients at his travel agency, McDaniel Travel Services. Winter isn’t usually a canning season, but since we have an abundance of NSJ raspberries in the freezer and an expert in our midst, we were able to make about 24 jars of raspberry jam and chocolate-raspberry jam.
We of course had a ton of fun in the process…
First they were meticulously planted by last year’s Nellie Stone Johnson 3rd graders. Then they grew in the summer sun and were tended to by Hawthorne Youth Farmers. They loved to sprawl along the fence and everyone admired their beautiful white and red flowers. In the fall, the big bean stalks started to get cold and their bean pods were very full. This year’s 3rd graders harvested those pods in their first month of school. The pods have been drying all winter until last Friday when NSJ 3rd graders crunched into those pods to free the prettiest beans. This spring, these same 3rd graders will have the opportunity to pass along these beans to next year’s NSJ 3rd graders by planting some of these seeds in the garden this spring. We’ll also get to eat them too!
To celebrate our cool beans, we made a delicious Black Bean and Corn Salsa Salad. Yum!