It was a conversation about the possible closure last year of
North High School
in North Minneapolis that inspired Project Sweetie Pie.
The soon-to-be-nonprofit organization is all about getting local youth into urban farming, close to home, while also developing their business know-how, according to one of its founders, Michael Chaney.
Initially, some of his friends and colleagues had been brainstorming ways to boost the high school and its community. The city's various recent efforts to encourage local food production came up, he says.
As it happens, North High is home to a greenhouse, which, at the time, it wasn’t using, he explains.
“Project Sweetie Pie is an urban farm movement designed to promote healthy food and physical activity in urban areas and to promote economic opportunity in the food distribution system,” its website reads.
Project Sweetie Pie takes it name from the sweet potatoes it first began growing and selling for commercial pie making at the nearby Kindred Kitchen
, which is a business incubator for food-related ventures.
The project helps youth and others to assume ownership over pieces of land and become stewards, Chaney says.
Chaney belongs to a group called Afro-Eco, which looks for opportunities to connect people to the land through sustainable practices. Afro-Eco is also the fiscal agent for Project Sweetie Pie, which started last year.
He’s been approaching schools, churches, and individuals to build up the project, including adding new growing plots and market locations. So far, more than 130 youth have participated in the project, growing well over 1,000 vegetables and fruits.
“We want youth to be part of the solution instead of labeled as the problem,” he says. “We’re planting the seeds of change."
Source: Michael Chaney, founder, Project Sweetie Pie
Writer: Anna Pratt