There’s more than corn, beans and squash growing at Dream of Wild Health, a 10-acre organic farm in Hugo, Minnesota. Programming for urban Native youth is also flourishing. The farm has just received a prestigious award from Youthprise for summer programs that teach American Indian kids ages 8 to 18 traditional agriculture, gardening, nutrition, cooking, leadership and teamwork.
The older children can have real jobs at the farm, earning as they work at Twin Cities farmers markets and in the garden’s market-in-a-van, which delivers fresh produce to St. Paul and Minneapolis neighborhoods. They earn while contributing to the health of their community.
“We are honored to have been chosen by Youthprise,” said Diane Wilson, Mdewakanton Dakota, executive director of the farm and author of books on Dakota history and culture, including Beloved Child: A Dakota Way of Life and Spirit Car: Journey to a Dakota Past, both from Borealis Books.
“Making sure Minnesota youth have great learning opportunities outside of school is a top priority,” said Wokie Weah, president of Youthprise, founded in 2010 by the McKnight Foundation to increase access to learning outside the classroom. “We want to see that all our youth thrive, no matter their background or circumstances.”
Dream of Wild Health has even more good news these days, said Jodi Bean, Mdewakanton Dakota, the farm’s public relations consultant. In addition to Youthprise, new funders include the Hugh J. Andersen and Wells Fargo foundations, according to Bean. The farm’s emphasis on individual and community health means it has also won health-sector awards—from Blue Cross Blue Shield and Minnesota’s Department of Health, for example.
“The new and continued support keeps the youth engaged in summer programs,” said Bean. “Some of the funding also supports paid internships and restoring soil fertility at the farm. There’s lots happening at Dream of Wild Health!”