Teens facing homelessness help Minneapolis urban farm

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It’s a whole new spin on fresh produce - delivered to the market - with no stops in between. And it’s being done on a bike by young people looking for a new beginning.

You don’t get any fresher than produce grown right on the farm but, in this case, it’s an urban farm.

"Welcome to the newest farm in Pillsbury United Communities, this one is quite special," Food Systems Manager Ethan Neal said. "It’s the biggest one we have in our portfolio and the only one we have in north Minneapolis."

The nonprofit that runs Oak Park Center, Pillsbury United Communities, is trying something new, moving their harvest from farm to bike to market. The deliveries to North Market are being made by youth experiencing homelessness. Kevin Heger found himself in that situation a few years ago – and then he found Full Cycle.

"It was a very new experience for me. I didn’t know anything about bikes, and I didn’t think I would like it, honestly," said Kevin Heger, who is on the bike delivery team. That’s all changed; he’s now trained in bike mechanics and delivery.

"After about two weeks in, I kind of got a feel for it and advanced pretty quickly and it definitely changed my life," he explained.

The fresh produce delivery program is being tested and, if it all works, the ability to make these kinds of deliveries allows the bike shop to keep more of those young people employed.

"We’re looking at creative ways to engage young people, above and beyond just bike mechanics, and so this was kind of an excuse to help us do that," said Matt Tennant of Full Cycle Bike Shop.

Full Cycle is hoping to get grants so they can continue the fresh produce delivery program full steam next season – and make weekly deliveries to North Market. They also deliver dry food by bike to transitional living programs in the summer and fall, and by van in the winter.