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Youth Farmers in St Paul and Minneapolis

We learned about the local Youth Farm project through the Twin Cities Daily Planet. We love the idea of teaching leadership, nutrition, farming and career exploration…

Youth Farm and Market Project, now in its 19th summer, helps build youth leadership for kids ages 9 through 18, through urban agriculture projects. In summer, classes are offered three days a week for eight weeks. During the school year, there are after-school classes, with access to a greenhouse and kitchens. Program graduates, ages 18 through 24, can be hired as paid part-time teaching staff. More than 600 kids are enrolled, from the Frogtown, Lyndale, Powderhorn, Hawthorne, and West St. Paul neighborhoods.

The experience sounds like it’s great for students, teachers and the community…

“We not only explore different cultures through food,” said Ringer, “but the kids prepare balanced meals for their peers. It’s one of the things that make the program unique. All the kids who were in the kitchen today end up there several times, learning basic safety and cooking skills. The chef is their teacher.”

Chef Sartain finishes the day mixing meatballs, prep work for Friday’s lunch. The bundles of Tuscan kale will go into a salad. “We slice them and massage them with kosher salt and olive oil instead of cooking them,” he said. Sartain arrives early in the morning, but he stays late to hang out with the kids. As he’s closing the kitchen, one of the kids comes in for a hug.

“The kids really help, although some are more interested in cooking than others,” he said. “It’s tangible to teach cooking techniques that they can take home and apply.” Much of the menu is set ahead of time, but today a co-op partner unexpectedly sent collard greens. “We’ll use this for something,” he said.

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