MNyou Youth Garden is a creative and revolutionary project that accomplishes several goals. With a greenhouse and a plot of land for a garden, underrepresented youth grow and maintain exotic vegetables and fruits rarely found in Minnesota. The produce from the garden is sent to local farmers markets for sale, instead of imported from other areas. Through the garden, the youth involved in the project develop marketable skills and gain valuable experience.
MNYou Youth Garden’s Purpose
This ground-breaking project is designed to meet several goals. Aside from merely providing the community with a variety of fresh and exotic produce, the project touches lives and promotes a shift in culture as well.
Fresh Exotic Produce Made Local
Providing exotic fruits and vegetables to the local area instead of importing them is the first goal. Through consulting with the community and determining where their interests in food lie, MNYou Youth Garden was able to understand how they could enhance household menus throughout the Willmar area.
By growing typically exotic foods and then selling them to other businesses and farmers markets for local purchase, MNYou Youth Garden eliminates the need to import these same items elsewhere. The community can enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables and add some variety to their current menus. The increase in variety locally also promotes growth and business within the local community.
Preparing Our Youth For the Workforce
MNyou Youth Garden achieves its second goal by employing minority youth ages 15-24 to grow and maintain the garden. The young gardeners spend time researching how best to grow the exotic fruits and vegetables and then put their research to work.
In addition to cultivating exotic vegetables and fruits, the youth also receive mentorship from local businesses. The MNyou Youth Garden employees learn about marketing, sales, and entrepreneurship from other professionals, enabling them to develop necessary skills for their future prepare them for the future.
MNyou Youth Garden emphasizes diversity and works to create opportunities for education, skill development, and work experience for underrepresented young men and women. With a goal in mind of strengthening the business skills of these young gardeners, MNyou Youth Garden seeks to break down barriers regarding employment that minority youth experiences.
The Benefits of Gardening
While MNYou Youth Gardens achieve their goals by providing produce and training underrepresented youth with marketable skills, gardening itself is an excellent option for the involved kids.
Gardening can help reduce stress, promote physical activity, and provide people with valuable skills. The young adults involved in the project also learn to be good stewards of the earth and how to manage natural resources. Gardening is an excellent interest for young people, whether they use it in their long term careers, or it becomes a lifelong hobby.
Through gardening, everyone can get their hands dirty, learn about where their food comes from, and see the literal fruits of their labor. By instilling an interest in growing plants and maintaining gardens, these youth will go on to enjoy this valuable experience for years to come.
Events and Community Involvement
The MNYou Youth Gardens participates in community events throughout the Willmar area. Most recently, they gave away samples at the Love Your Health event. They also offer CSA boxes for sale during the season, and maintain a presence at local farmers markets, selling their produce.
The founders of MNYou Youth Garden also frequently speak at conferences. They share their knowledge and research regarding urban youth farming and the impact it has on communities and youth. The team at MNYou Youth Garden also participate in many training opportunities and learn how to further their community involvement and make a difference
MNYou Youth Garden: Making a Difference Now and For the Future
The impact the MNyou Youth Garden has not only on the community but on the people involved, is meaningful and lasting. Preparing youth for long-term careers by providing them with work experience, skills, and support empowers them and encourages them. By focusing on underrepresented youth and serving their needs, MNYou Youth Garden fills a valuable niche.
The MNyou Youth Garden bolsters the community of Willmar by not only providing fruits and vegetables that aren’t usually available but by training young, underrepresented people for careers. Providing work experience and minimum wage for the youth helps them to become better citizens and more employable.
With a strong desire to build Willmar’s minority youth up and provide the area with fresh, rare produce, MNyou Youth Garden is the perfect system. By achieving multiple goals through the garden’s endeavors, MNyou Youth Garden enriches the Willmar community and blazes a trail for the future for the youth involved in this fantastic program. You can support this incredible endeavor by visiting them at the local farmers’ markets or contacting us to get involved.