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Food as Resilience: farms, fermentation & entrepreneurship

Bridging urban & rural communities who hunger for security and well-being while creating a scalable model for others to replicate.

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*Please Upload User Experience Map (as attachment) and any additional Beneficiary Feedback in this field

#FarmFermentedResilience When one of the youth at Appetite For Change looked at the User Experience Map to provide feedback on the project proposal she asked "Did Aaliyah get to do all of this? I want to learn how to do fermentation!" The "jealousy" instantly told us that the youth in our program will be interested in this project, but what we realized from talking to the youth is that not all of them will be interested in each phase, and we may have to engage smaller groups separately.

Explain your project idea in two sentences.

Bridging urban youth and rural community with permaculture, fermentation and entrepreneurship resulting in the sale of fermented products through storytelling and existing marketing relationships.

What is your organization name? Explain your organization in one sentence.

Appetite For Change uses food as a tool for building health, wealth and social change in Minneapolis

Is this project idea new for you or your organization? If no, how much have you already executed on?

This project brings together three distinct, existing activities: youth employment, restorative farming and fermentation. Our team members have been executing our individual components, but our collaboration is an innovative way to impact our community.

What is the problem you aim to solve with this idea? How would you define this problem as urgent and a priority in your target community?

Lack of nutritional food, few jobs, and poor health plague the inner city. Using crops grown and preserved with restorative methods, we contribute to health in the city and to building healthy rural soil while creating urban and rural jobs. We also bring attention to the benefits of fermented food.

What is the timeline for your project idea? What are the key steps for implementation in the next 1-3 years?

Aug - Dec 2017 - Youth visit the farm, learn about restorative agriculture (10 youth) - Youth are able to participate in harvesting - Hands on workshop on fermentation at AFC Jan - June 2018 - Fermentation and permaculture lessons - Recipe development - Spring farm plans (urban and rural) and beginning harvest (asparagus) July - December 2018 - Harvest (urban and rural) - Product testing at The Good Acre - Brand development - Large scale production - Marketing and sales

Describe the individual or team that will implement this idea (if a partnership, please explain breakdown of responsibility).

Appetite For Change: Youth supervision, mentorship and fundraising. Lily Springs Farm: Farm and harvest management GYST: Fermentation/food safety, distribution/sales. ALL: Curriculum; product creation; storytelling/marketing, evaluation.

What do you need the most support with in this project idea?

  • Business Development/Partnerships

What is your primary goal over the next 6 weeks of Refinement?

  • Learn to measure and grow project results

How do you currently measure (or plan to measure) results for this project?

Outputs (quantitative) - # of youth trained/engaged - #lbs of food grown/harvested - $$ in sales Outcomes (qualitative) - Change in youth knowledge/attitude about restorative farming, fermentation - Increase in youth confidence in their entrepreneurial capacity - Innovate value-add products and help create market for nutritionally dense crops, thereby incentivizing more restorative agriculture initiatives. - Bring more awareness to the health benefits of fermentation.

How has your project proposal changed due to your user research during the Beneficiary Feedback Phase?

We should start with a small group (6-8) both new youth (interns) & older AFC participants (youth educators, mentors and leaders. More experienced youth leading each yr Youth want to develop a product from a vegetable that they grew themselves. Therefore, produce will come from Lily Springs and AFC urban farms. Youth want to feature their product at Breaking Bread cafe and in a music commercial.

(Optional) What are some of your still unanswered questions or concerns about this idea?

- If we begin with a smaller group of youth (6-8 as they suggested) how will we increase new youth participation each year? - Weather: not sure what kind of harvest we’ll have, which will affect what produce is available and/or amount of production. - Product development could take longer than we hope/expect. -How will we partner with corner stores and other vendors where margins may not allow us to least break even? - Paying for marketing and accessing capital for scaling the model

During this Improve Phase, please use the space below to add any additional information to your proposal.

Yesterday current AFC youth educators and leaders were able to tour The Good Acre food hub and commercial kitchen, as well as meet with GYST co-owner, Ky Guse, to learn more about fermentation and taste some of GYST's current lacto-fermented vegetables. We also sat down to discuss the project as a group. We left completely inspired by the power of these ideas! AFC youth were wholly engaged in learning more about fermentation (and even the smells that go with it). Ky brought out the fermented Daikon Radish with Chili for us to try, as well as the Golden Beet with Orange and Ginger. The Daikon was quite stinky and did not go over so well (see photo of Grace!) but everyone loved the Golden Beet and even brought back jars to their friends and families. In addition, here is more of the user feedback we received from them: - Youth mentors and leaders will help recruit new AFC participants to the program and feel group size should be 6-8 participants. This will ensure group connection, therefore reinforcing participant commitment throughout the year (growing season, fermentation education and recipe development, harvest, branding, marketing/advertising, selling). - Feels important for youth to develop product that they grew themselves. Thus, youth may be developing recipes from produce harvested at Lily Springs Farm and/or AFC urban farm sites. - Youth were excited and engaged about fermentation process and want to learn more!!! - Loved the GYST Fermented Golden Beet with Ginger and brought jars back for friends and family to try. - Thought of the kale salad at Breaking Bread Café and how delicious beets would be on top. - Did not like the stinky GYST Daikon Radish with Chili (Michelle, AFC cofounder loved them!) - Discussed possible recipes/products: lacto-fermented green beans, fermented hot sauce and/or pepper paste, aronia kombucha and even a beet dip. - Wanted products to be sold in neighborhood (easily accessible to community) in corner stores and grocery stores.

Note that you may also edit any of your previous answers within the proposal. Here is a great place to note any big final changes or iterations you have made to your proposal below:

During the refinement phase, we are reminded what farmer, chef and social-thought leader Dan Barber suggests; that great world cuisines have always been built around what the immediate environment and culture can provide. By engaging young people in the North Minneapolis community with the skills for both rural and urban farming, fermentation as ways of health and preservation and entrepreneurial skills, we are providing a solid platform for economic and professional development. We are utilizing what can be grown locally to develop a culturally popular and healthy product. Some ideas include lacto-fermented green beans and/or a fermented hot sauce. We believe this project is replicable in communities throughout the world using this very model: utilizing what is available and/or can be grown locally to develop a culturally popular and healthy product. As one expert said, “...this idea seeks to bring a relatively simple technology to address a systemic issue.” We believe this model and the simple technology of lacto-fermentation have the ability to improve food insecurities globally, thus promoting peace, prosperity and our planet.

The Problem:  Food insecurity, a global problem, is particularly prevalent in Northdf Minneapolis and other urban centers that are over-saturated by fast food and corner store options and beleaguered by poverty. There is little access to healthy food or to land where it can be grown sustainably, alongside a shortage of jobs and opportunities for teens and young adults. Meanwhile, rural communities are suffering their own food desertification, as topsoil erodes, fertility is depleted, and small farms disappear. By contrast, food security--healthy soil, healthy food, and healthy people--is a crucial link between economic prosperity and a liveable planet. 

Our Solution:   Healthy food, grown sustainably, feeds resilience. Appetite For Change and our partners GYST Fermentation Bar and Lily Springs Farm address food insecurity through a community-based, human-centered design process, which has been tested and proven by AFC.  The premise is that the people who are most affected by the problem need to be to be the architects of the solution.  Regardless of  seeming differences, every community can use food as a tool for social change, building health and wealth without heavy reliance on outside resources. This collaboration is based on the urgent need to take responsibility for both our internal and external ecosystems. We believe that what we are embarked upon can be replicated anywhere. Fermentation is an easy and safe form of preservation, requiring only salt and produce, which creates nutrient-dense, bio-available food anywhere in the world.

Bridging Peace, Prosperity & Planet: An increasing global population, a strain on the earth’s scarce resources, and an economic divide are all present when looking at the challenges felt in urban communities like North Minneapolis. Similar challenges are also facing rural communities.  This project responds simultaneously to the needs of degraded land, marginalized communities, and a healthcare system that treats disease rather than promoting health. By connecting urban and rural communities, this team will build peace, prosperity and heal both the planet and its people through farming, food and fermentation. 

Explain your idea

BOLD IDEA: Our idea is to transform communities through regenerative farming, food and fermentation. We want to take the AFC community-based model and human-centered design process to other communities to support their use of food as a tool for creating safe and thriving neighborhoods. We have teamed up with Lily Springs Farm and GYST: Food for Social Thought for an innovative project that will introduce urban youth to regenerative farming, the ancient practices and health benefits of fermentation as a basis for promoting health and wealth in individuals, communities, and land. INNOVATIVE SOLUTION: While the issue of food insecurity seems daunting, the solution is, in fact, simple: individuals need control over their food system. We can use food and farming as medicine to heal ourselves, communities and the planet. This lack of autonomy leads to poverty, violence, disease and depletion of the earth’s natural resources. At the root of the problem is the inequitable food system that exacerbates social determinants of health. North Minneapolis is a prime example of a community that has all of the challenges one might expect in dense urban area: high rates of unemployment and poverty; little in the way of economic revitalization; high levels of crime, long-term vacancy and abandoned properties; and pervasive health disparities. The result is food insecurity. Not only do we lack “real” food options, but our community is also a “food swamp;” where snacks and fast food options vastly outnumber the healthy food choices. HOW IT WILL WORK: Appetite For Change’s Training & Opportunities program youth will be able to visit and engage with Lily Springs Farm to connect the urban agriculture that they are already doing, with the permaculture practices of Lily Springs. Products harvested from both the urban and rural production sites will be brought to our commercial kitchen at AFC for recipe testing and product development. A fermented product will be put into production at The Good Acre, our nonprofit food hub partner where GYST and Lily Springs are already fermenting. The final product will then be sold at our farmer’s market, local cooperatives, and used at AFC’s Breaking Bread Cafe. AFC, Lily Springs Farm and GYST seek to replicate this model by bringing together our communities to test one of the tactics that we see as key to making change. That is, we want our youth to be able to create a food business and sell a product that they have helped to grow, process, design and market. The youth want to take their work to the next level, and rather than just growing and selling produce, they want to spread health and wealth through this food product. What better way to do this than to combine permaculture, fermentation and food justice to bridge our urban and rural communities?

Who Benefits?

YOUTH: Northside youth will benefit by expanding understanding of sustainable agriculture through hands on experience on a local, permaculture-based farm. The youth will participate from start to finish in creating a food business where the final product is sold on store shelves. REGION: The Twin Cities, surrounding communities in the mid-west will benefit. Not only will they have access to delicious, local and healthy fermented products, but will also learn from our model. COMMUNITIES GLOBALLY: Food insecurity, disease and economic vulnerability can be impacted in any community through this model. People everywhere can use food create innovative solutions that build connection, health and well-being. THE EARTH: We can spread these techniques so that more farms adopt the practice of building healthy soil that has increased microbial activity and using less water to produce our food. Permaculture, nutrient dense crops and fermentation techniques, create soil and human health.

How is your idea unique?

We are all women-founded and led businesses in a male-dominated food and farming world. Our human centered design approach is an innovative collaboration of for-profit and nonprofit partners building community and bridging the urban-rural divide. This partnership leverages distinctly different but synergistic resources, knowledge and experience. With some funding, a track record of implementing the model, expertise in farming, fermentation and food-entrepreneurship, our collective impact will already have a jump-start. Our project has a double scalability factor. We can replicate the idea of urban youth partnering with a rural farm to grow, ferment and sell a healthy product. Also, we can replicate our community-led design process in other areas so they too can create their own solutions. While there are other groups doing fermentation, permaculture and food entrepreneurship, our collaborative effort models a generative, sustainable more holistic answer to a complex problem.

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Piloting: I have started to implement my solution as a whole with a first set of real users.
  • Full-scale roll-out: I have completed a pilot and analyzed the impact of that pilot on the users I am trying to reach with my idea. I am ready to expand the pilot significantly.

Tell us more about you

Lily Springs Farm (LSF); a 100 acre woman-owned demonstration farm close to the Twin Cities, uses restorative, climate-resilient agriculture practices to regenerate soil and grow nutrient-dense permaculture crops. Permaculture, based on traditional knowledge and practices of indigenous world cultures, increases biodiversity, promotes wildlife and pollinators, enhances water quality, creates fertile topsoil, and sequesters carbon. A core component of LSF’s mission is to engage urban youth through hands on activity in nature. Groups from the Kitty Anderson Youth Science Center and the HECUA program from the University of Minnesota have spent significant time at LSF. Lily Springs Farm will host the groups from Appetite For Change and will acquaint them with some of the essential ideas of restorative agriculture. We will explain the importance of nutrient-dense foods, why we grow those particular crops in the ways that we do, and we will supervise the harvest of the produce. GYST: Food for Social Thought; a women-run business, uses its restaurant in South Minneapolis as a platform for inspiring critical thinking and creating positive social change. Founded on the belief that food is a crucial basis for health, GYST’s innovative fermented products promote what science is increasingly demonstrating: that the vitality of the gut micro-biome is central to emotional and physical wellbeing. GYST’s experienced “fermenters” will work with youth to create a delicious, fermented product and label based upon the harvest available both at Lily Springs Farm and at the Appetite for Change urban farms. We will guide youth through the lacto-fermentation process discussing how it works, the importance of soil health for healthy bacteria and its importance for human health. Together we will process vegetables and ferment at our commercial kitchen space. We will also work with our partners and youth to help facilitate marketing the product, including in-store education and sampling. Appetite for Change, Inc. is a women-run non-profit organization in North Minneapolis is using food as a tool for creating health, wealth and social change. We do cooking workshops, urban agriculture, youth employment, and food business incubation. Through our on-the-job culinary and foodservice training at Breaking Bread Café & Catering, this program empowers participants to become skilled restaurant professionals. AFC's role will be to provide our human centered design toolkit to guide the partnership in creating a community-based solution to our problem. We will supervise our youth as they learn from LSF and GYST, help implement those restorative techniques at our urban farm sites in North Minneapolis. We will also work closely with our partners to ensure that the youth play an integral and equal role in designing, testing and branding the product. Lastly, we will help document the process so that we can include learnings in a toolkit for replication.

Expertise in sector

  • 5-7 years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.


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Photo of Brent Marmo

Global challenges for food begin locally. Appetite For Change addresses this head-on by supporting a their community by using healthy, local food as a tool to build health, wealth, and social change.

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