At the beginning of May, I got to visit a couple of great nonprofit organizations in Minnesota.
My sister works for a nonprofit called Community Thread, which is a volunteer center based in Stillwater, MN. Each spring they put on a big Spring into Service event, which pairs volunteers with local nonprofits to participate in work projects, followed by an after-party at the Community Thread office. Since Elena knows I’m all about agriculture issues – and how these overlap with social issues – she sent me up to Marine on St. Croix to work with the Minnesota Food Association.
There, I got to jump in with the staff, participating farmers, and a group of volunteers to weed, plant, transplant, and learn. The MFA provides farmers “with the skills and knowledge to operate their own viable organic and sustainable vegetable farms, while providing fresh, organic produce to local consumers by the farmers-in-training and promoting a more sustainable food system.” They work specifically with immigrant and minority populations, offering plots of land for rent, training programs, benefits, and a CSA that farmers can participate in as they grow their businesses.
I feel like I could go on a gigantic rant about how great this all is, but really, the best way for you to learn is to go to their website, go to the events and work days they put on, and maybe even become a member of their CSA, which operates as Big River Farms. I’ll just add this: that providing people with support and a strong start in a growing field, within the context of community, producing something that is not only more and more in demand but is also essential to our well-being, is a cleverly mult-faceted approach to dealing with many of our nation’s challenges that I can’t help but find inspiring.
We worked on a cloudy, slightly chilly day, but most everyone was cheerful and hard at work. How can you not to want to jump in when you’re surrounded by the health and life of young, strong, promising little plants?
Thanks to Community Thread for connecting me with this opportunity. And thanks to the farmers and staff at Minnesota Food Association for the work that you do. It was a privilege to meet all of you, and I look forward to participating more in the future!