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Young Workers and MNYou Youth Garden Put Small MMDC Grant to Good Use


Contact: Eric Day, Mid-Minnesota Development Commission

Phone: (320) 235-8504

Email: [email protected]

Young Workers and MNYou Youth Garden Put Small MMDC Grant to Good Use

Funds Support Ag- and Marketing-Focused Workforce Training

August 2022:  30 youth from the Willmar area had the chance to gain skills and experience in both agriculture and marketing this growing season, thanks in part to a Mid-Minnesota Community Enhancement grant. The MNYou Youth Garden was awarded $2,000 to support youth training wages and install additional irrigation.

Participating youth learned about small scale agriculture while working on the MNYou vegetable farm. There, they had the opportunity to learn about seedling management, pest control, harvesting techniques, and plant transplanting. They also gained insight on how to market their product. MNYou’s youth receive the positive reinforcement of a wage while learning and working in the garden and can work up to 20 hours each week throughout the summer months.

Produce grown by MNYou’s workers helps to support a community-supported agriculture program, through which subscribers can purchase either nine or 18 weeks-worth of seasonal produce. “MNYOu’s program is unique in that we’re able to match the CSA sales”, said MNYou Cofounder Ben Larson. “Families that self-identify as food insecure can receive free vegetable boxes throughout the growing season”.

The Mid-Minnesota Community Enhancement Grant opportunity is open to 501(c)3 nonprofits, school districts, and local units of government in the MMDC region (Counties of Kandiyohi, McLeod, Meeker, and Renville). These organizations may apply for enhancement grants of up to $3,000 which can be used to fund:

  • Health, safety, or wellness-focused training for community members or specific professional or volunteer groups;
  • Supplies and/or equipment needed for improved emergency response;
  • Items to enhance law enforcement organization’s ability to develop positive relationships with youth, people of color, and other groups;
  • Public amenities that will promote physical and/or mental well-being or increase opportunities for positive community interaction (e.g., recreation equipment, walking path amenities);
  • Support workforce training opportunities for youth and other populations.

Since its launch, 11 Mid-Minnesota Community Enhancement Grants have been awarded by MMDC’s Board of Commissioners. To learn more about Mid-Minnesota Development Commission, visit

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