Urban Ventures Farm
Five years ago the organizers of Urban Ventures in Minneapolis noticed many of the youth they served after school meals to from their Kids Café were going back for second and third helpings. Youth often stored food in their backpacks to take home because there was either no dinner waiting for them or very limited food options at home. Instead of starting a food shelf, organizers decided to start a farm so individuals and families would have access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
Urban Ventures Farm is located along an abandoned railroad track in the Phillips neighborhood in the heart of Minneapolis. The farm employs traditional horticulture practices using two greenhouses, aquaponics and an orchard. The farm is home to bees and chickens, all on about eight acres.
The goal is to make healthy eating a habit for families by providing fresh produce, cooking classes and nutrition education. The farm operation is run by two managers, a nutrition educator and scores of volunteers.
The leadership of Urban Ventures Farm includes University of Minnesota graduate Clarisse Randolph; Gary Ross, who grew up farming in Mississippi; and Mark-Peter Lundquist who serves as project director.
Community involvement is key to the success of Urban Ventures Farm. There are over 20 collaborative partners including the Minneapolis Public Schools, various community organizations and churches, Cargill, General Mills, Syngenta and the University of Minnesota.