News & Stories

Looking Forward: North Minneapolis Expanding Programs
August 21, 2021

Youth Farm

While most people are familiar with activities or event at the Trailhead – the Loppet also programs out of another of its locations in North Minneapolis, an emerging hub for healthy living, nutrition, and outdoor activity. Located on the corner of Dowling and Humboldt Avenue, the Loppet Foundation greenhouse space is coming to life in partnership with Youth Farm. Youth Farm is a youth development organization, engaging youth in farm and food classes, leadership training, and community events. The organization aims to utilize food as a catalyst for social change, community engagement, and leadership development, preparing its participants for success in any path they choose.

This spring, high schoolers participating in Youth Farm made use of the Loppet’s greenhouse space by planting seeds; the beginning to the year-round urban farming program cycle where youth take an active role in planting, managing, and monitoring garden spaces throughout the season, all the way from seed to plate. While programming typically takes place in the organization’s St. Paul greenhouse location and various city farms, the use of a new campus offers a chance for greater community engagement on the North side. 

The effort to expand programming to North Minneapolis has been spearheaded by Marcus Kar, the Director of North Minneapolis Programs at Youth Farm. From the Youth Farm website:

“Born in West Africa, raised in Minneapolis MN, Marcus Kar is using art and music to help grow a healthy North Minneapolis while providing community access to locally grown produce throughout the Northside area. Kar’s aim as the Director of North Minneapolis Programs is to work with Northside youth to implement a village concept and start a movement. This movement engages a larger community by connecting and collaborating with diverse organizations, communities, artists, and individuals working in the MN Food Fight (Food Justice) to build a healthier North Minneapolis. Within Youth Farm culture, we farm to grow. We grow young leaders, we grow food, we grow community, we grow progress. Youth Farm promotes food justice by growing new relationships between youth and food. This both meets the wellness needs of our communities and recognizes the historical narratives and current exploitation within the food system.”

The next step in the journey to create a hub of healthy living in North Minneapolis is demolition of the greenhouse, followed by construction of a new one that will be ready for the next growing season.

Break the Cycle

Another emerging program will make use of the Loppet warehouse, just next to the greenhouse. Break The Cycle is a program focused on getting more people of color involved in the bike community as trained mechanics. Sponsored by Quality Bicycle Products, the Loppet will administer classes at the warehouse followed by a sponsored trip to Colorado to train for a mechanic certification. The program aims to qualify individuals to work at bike shops in the city and to spearhead the possible creation of a new bike shop in the warehouse that would serve the North Minneapolis community and expand access to biking.