Larson Family - MNyou Youth Garden
MNyou is a youth-led CSA program working to address food insecurity in west central Minnesota. MNyou started in 2016 as a youth training program. Training focuses on small-scale farming practices. The organization moved to its current location in 2018. Organizers and youth built two hoop houses and a deep winter greenhouse on the land owned by Brent and Deb Larson. 30 young people work and train on the farm every growing season. Youth typically work up to 20 hours a week and are paid for their training.
The farm follows market garden principles. Youth are trained in seedling management, pest management, transplanting, harvesting, packaging, hoop house, and greenhouse management, sales and marketing.
The Larsons’ son, Ben, is the manager of the farm which includes about three-quarters of an acre of vegetables. Produce is sold through a CSA and at local farmers' markets. Half the produce from the garden is donated to food-insecure families and individuals.
Seedlings are started on the farm in March. The young plants begin to hit the ground on May 1 and the team plants all the way through August. Weekly, from mid-June to mid-October the youth are harvesting for the CSA and farmers markets. By mid-summer, MNyou has up to 20 different crops ready for harvest.
While Ben handles the management of the farm, Brent oversees market management and youth training. Deb is also involved in youth training and manages the farm’s product packaging.
The Larsons are involved in community advocacy around food policy. The family helped start a farmers market focused on giving new and emerging farmers a market.