Are you an Urban Roots alumni? If so, we want to hear from you, especially if you are interested in sharing your story of what you are up to now. We also now have a page dedicated to you, job search help, alumni stories and more. Please reach out to us at Dwoods@urbanrootsmn.org.
We’re halfway done with summer programming, but our event calendar is still in full swing! It’s been a summer packed with pizza nights and chef-led lunches, and we can’t wait to celebrate the final month of summer by opening our demonstration site to you! On Thursday, August 3rd from 4-7 p.m., join Urban Roots for our annual Open House! Our talented youth interns have been hard at work creating an Urban Roots Passport, to guide our visitors to our work sites. Our visitors will learn about all of our programming, play games designed by our talented Youth Council, and join in a raffle for a chance to win prizes! We’re excited to show off the work we do and show you more about our work with urban farming, parkland restoration, and healthy eating!
Another great draw to our open house: We’ll be firing up the Urban Roots Pizza Oven! Our pizza menu this summer has featured flavors from Hmong sausage to roasted beets, so you know we’ll come up with something creative and delicious. Our intern chefs will be cooking wood-fired pizzas for our community members to enjoy.
We can’t wait for this evening of environmental education with fun to be had by all. See you in a week!
Urban Roots will be hosting our first Urban Pizza Farm! Local chefs and our exceptional youth interns will do a pizza oven take over- creating delicious pizzas made with Urban Roots produce for you to enjoy. The inaugural Urban Pizza Farm will take place on June 29th featuring Chef Yia Vang! Can’t make it? Don’t worry- we’ll have another pizza night on July 20th featuring Les Dames D’Escoffier. This is bound to be a delicious evening celebrating youth, community, and great food.
Rivoli Bluff Farm is in full swing! Intrepid staff members have been plowing, installing drip irrigation and planting the quarter acre plot. Thanks to our partnership with the Dayton’s Bluff Neighborhood Housing Services, we benefitted from a Minnesota Superbowl Legacy Fund of the Minnesota Community Foundation and the hard work of Pentair volunteers who planted 60 fruit trees adjacent to the vegetable crops. Raspberries and other fruit shrubs will soon join the orchard plot. We’re excited to be heading into such a fruitful summer!
Another exciting growth opportunity for Urban Roots? This July, look for our newly built 38’ x 52’ high-tunnel as a pilot project in partnership with the Department of Agriculture. We look forward to increased production for 2017-2018!
What’s cookin’ in the Urban Roots kitchen? Lots of fun, summer activities! This summer, we’ll be working with seven chefs from around the Twin Cities- including Rajen Rayan, Beth Dooley, Jenny Breen, Yia Vang of Union Kitchen, Ruhel Islam from Gandhi Mahal, and Robin Asbel. We’re excited to be working with these fantastic chefs. Gandi Mahal and chef/owner Ruhel Islam will be giving our Cook Fresh interns a tour of his restaurant, and talk about what it’s like to own a restaurant business. Come join us for a Chef-led lunch on Tuesdays this summer! RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cook Fresh’s summer interns have been busy in the kitchen, learning about produce seasonality, shopping on a budget, and working with chefs Yia Vang and Rajen Rayen, to prepare farm-to-table meals for 60 youth interns and our visiting partners. Last week, Cook Fresh ventured across the river to Minneapolis’ Gandhi Mahal restaurant to learn about aquaponics and options for growing food not in season. After the tour, interns painted the Gandhi Mahal rain barrels, brightening them with pollinator flowers and honey bees.
Chef/owner Ruhel Islam of Gandhi Mahal then came to Urban Roots and worked with the interns to create an amazing meal of vegetable curry and apple chaat. Interns added their morning harvest to the table – rhubarb, cilantro, and lettuce, combined with apple, garlic, chili, and some salt to make an incredible chaat! We’re so grateful to Ruhel and Andy and all our partners who give their time and talents to our Chef-Led meals!
J J Hill Montessori students got to “eat the rainbow” in their schoolyard garden with the guidance of Urban Roots staff and a great crew of parent volunteers. Under beautiful blue skies, 15 classes of Children’s House and E1 learned salad making skills with the spring harvest from their raised bed gardens. Utilizing five stations, students assembled the rainbow salad:
Some made a homemade salad dressing (lemon, orange, honey, olive oil)
Others grated beets or
Chopped rainbow carrots or
Harvested and chopped radishes and
Harvested, washed, and spun lettuce.
The grand finale was a shared salad-picnic on the lawn.
“This is the best salad I ever had!”
Thanks to our partners at J J Hill for inviting us to work with their enthusiastic students!
The sky was cloudy but spirits were sunny for our Market Garden Staff Work Day! Market Garden team members Summer, Jaclyne, and Sydney led staff crews to get our garden at First Covenant Church in great shape for the production season. We edged the garden, raised new beds for tomatoes, mulched with a dozen bales of hay, and gave our garlic some love so that production can be better than ever.
The administrative staff enjoyed ditching their dress shoes and getting their hands dirty—it was a great way to remember why Urban Roots began and how we can keep giving back to the community in the future. Urban Roots wouldn’t be where we are today without the guidance of our talented staff and our amazing youth interns. Last year’s harvest of 10,500 pounds on 1/2 acre of land was so amazing, and with the new Rivoli Bluff site we’ll double our land and yield even more healthy food for our community!
Staff and interns teamed up with CLUES (Comunidades Latinas Unidas en Servicio) and Macalester College students to put on our best Earth Day ever on April 23rd! Around 45 participants joined us to clean up and completely prep a few of our gardens for spring planting. We ended the day with sweet chili cucumbers (a delicious, Mexican traditional snack), hot dogs roasting over a fire, and a seed planting for participants to bring home. Below find more of the upcoming exciting projects and events made possible through our vital partnerships!
Events, Happenings, New Projects:
Market Garden Program:
1. Rivoli Bluffs: In partnership with the Dayton’s Bluff Neighborhood Housing Services, our newest farm plot, nearly half an acre in development for the 2017 growing season
-High Tunnel: in partnership with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Services, to be installed mid-summer at Rivoli Farm site.
2. GROW-IT Center: major project with Metro State and community partners to develop shuttered biological control greenhouse into community-university growing and research center
-Youth interns testified to Legislature
-$400,000 Grant included in the House Ag-Omnibus Finance Bill, fingers crossed!
3. Dinner on the Farm
-July 23, tickets at http://www.dinneronthefarm.com
4. Mississippi Market
-New Vendor for youth-grown produce
-CSA pickup site
-Positive Change Program in June- round up to support us!
-Food Fair June 17 with Urban Roots tabling at all three stores
5. Roots for the Home Team
-UR will be serving at Twins games on 6/17, 7/8, 8/20, 9/17
Cook Fresh Program
1. Saba Andualem: New Cook Fresh Program Coordinator!
2. Urban Pizza Farm: 6/29, 7/20, 8/21, stay tuned for details!
3. Chef-led lunches: Tuesdays, June 20-August 8, contact us if you’d like to share in the fun!
4. East Side Health and Well-Being Collaborative: East Side Table is piloting a 10-week free subscription meal program this summer for East Side low-income families in partnership with Local Crate andUrban Roots produce!
1. Take Aim, May 20, 11am-3pm
-The DNR WIllowbrook Hatchery, 1200 Warner Rd, St Paul, MN 55106
-Fun outdoor activities, including fishing, archery, canoeing, a climbing wall, bicycling, geocaching, laser range, live animals and a buckthorn art activity!
2. Slow Roll: July 26th 5:30-7:30
-Join us and Cycles for Change for a “Slow Roll” group bike ride through the East Side
-Enjoy a picnic at Urban Roots after the ride! Perfect for beginners and those who want to explore the East Side
3. National Fish & Wild Course: “Building Urban Wildlife Habitats with Youth”
-Four youth interns will work with conservation professionals from around the country, sharing their experiences working as a youth in conservation and then designing a pollinator garden at Hamm Park, to be installed later this summer.
4. Park Ranger Training- interns will learn how to give park tours from park rangers through the National Park Service
5. We are excited to have former intern Cha Vang joining Urban Roots as a seasonal staff member this summer.
6. Natural Leader Legacy Camp: a great opportunity for youth interns.
-June 9th-12th at Camp Icaghowan in Amery, WI.
-Designed to further knowledge and skills in community organizing, leadership, personal narrative and action planning, all with a goal of getting more people outside and engaged with the environment.
8. The buzz about Honey Bees!
-David Woods is now a certified beekeeper!
-New honey bee boxes installed at the Rivoli Farm Site
Cross-Program Activities and Events:
1. Bay Lake: Service Learning camp experience for all summer youth interns combined with end of the summer celebration and evaluation/reflection.
2. Open House, Aug 3: Youth-run pizza night and youth projects showcase- you’re invited!
3. Annual Event, October 12: Celebrate Urban Roots 20 years on the Eastside with great food, silent and live auctions. Harriet Island. So fun, don’t miss it!
4. Summer wood fire-pizza nights featuring special guest chefs. Tentative dates: June 29, July 20 and September 21-check our website for updates on these exciting events!
5. Volunteer Opportunities
-Next big event is May 13th from 9am-12pm.
-Register online for all volunteering at urbanrootsmn.org/volunteer
It’s officially Spring! April has not disappointed us with spring rainfall. The wet weather has given us an ideal opportunity to educate our youth interns and the East Side community on storm drains. We teamed up with the Capital Region Watershed District, and our Conservation interns to promote the Adopt-A-Drain Program, hanging informative signs on 3,000 doors in the Payne-Phalen neighborhood. This program encourages residents to clean their local storm drains to keep trash, debris, and chemicals out of our lakes and rivers.
The rain also means wildflowers are starting to bloom and pollinators are returning! We are excited to host bees at our new Rivoli Bluffs site. We have two bee boxes and both queens are laying eggs, while the workers are making combs and storing nectar and pollen.
Our queen bees aren’t the only ones who have been successful this spring. Two of our youth, Chue Kong Pheng Xiong and Gao Joua Lor, who also participated in the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory Youth Engagement Program (YEP), won the Sustainable St. Paul Youth Leadership Award. They surveyed 200 students to better understand why teens don’t go outdoors in the winter, and then were successful at getting more teens outside to attend Phalen Freeze Fest this February. They will have another opportunity to encourage more teens to get outdoors this spring with the Take Aim at Summer Fun event May 20th at the DNR Central Region Headquarters from 11-3pm. Participants can try archery, canoeing, fishing, tree climbing and much more!