Youth Farm produces more than just food. Through summer and school-year programs available for ages 9 to 24, it cultivates young leaders: responsible, essential community members who know how to grow healthy foods and why it's important to do so. In five Minneapolis and St. Paul neighborhoods, participants begin as Youth Farmers,
9- to 11-year-olds, who get their hands dirty in the soil and learn the basics of transforming what they grow into nutritious dishes. From there, they grow into All Stars, Project LEAD members, and finally Farm Stewards, all while building their skill set and becoming increasingly engaged in the distribution of what they grow.
That last aspect is another integral part to the Youth Farm programs. Not only do participants build a community among themselves, they also serve the community that surrounds them. During the summer program, Youth Farm families receive full grocery bags of vegetables every week of the eight-week program. And this can add up fast. In 2013 alone, Youth Farm's 800 participants distributed more than 10,000 pounds of produce and prepared more than 12,000 healthy meals.