Phillips Food Justice Table builds on South Minneapolis resources

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Minneapolis’ Phillips neighborhood activists, urban farmers and organization representatives packed the Waite House meeting room February 2 for the second Phillips Food Justice Table. They gathered to continue the conversation about work on food issues in the community, naming power and self-sufficiency as key focuses. 

Neighbors Connecting for Action in Phillips (NCAP) convened the table, where 14 organizations were represented, showing the time, energy and focus committed to neighborhood food initiatives.

Eduardo Cardenas, a Waite House youth program cook, said in the last four to five years he has seen much change in the neighborhood’s food efforts.

“I’ve seen at least six to seven gardens pop up,” Cardenas said, “There has been a huge interest in growing and using your own food recently.”

David Boehnke, NCAP member, agreed with Cardenas and explained that NCAP works toward a noncompetitive model and looks to build an approach that works by connecting people and organizations to one another. He said that Philips doesn’t need another organization to work for food justice.

“There is tons of work going on around food and it’s easy to fall into working with only the people you know.” Boehnke continued, “We need to amplify the work we are all doing well and start really using our resources.”

Organizations such as the Women’s Environmental Institute, Gardening Matters, Grand Aspirations, Ventura Village Urban Farm, The Minnesota Project, and Kaleidoscope Place After School shared ideas and resources at the gathering. Working groups addressed neighborhood food education, anti-oppression, composting, mobilizing residents, land acquisition, celebrations, resource mapping, and economics. 

In addition to speaking on steps for future neighborhood improvements, representatives also spoke on recent project and community successes. According to Eric Larson of Stone’s Throw Urban Farms, more land has been allocated to the Phillips neighborhood through the Homegrown Minneapolis Community Gardens Pilot Program and by the Twin Cities Urban Land Trust Initiative, which is funded through the McKnight Foundation and Gardening Matters.

Collie Graddick, Community Table Cooperative Partner, works around the Twin Cities to develop a viable local food system. He spoke of upcoming economic development classes at the Midtown Global Market, a potential CSA pickup and food drive in the Allina Hospitals & Clinics, and a project to bring fresher produce to corner stores.

Graddick, who works in many different areas, said that Phillips’ efforts exceed the rest.

“Phillips is ahead of North Minneapolis and Saint Paul in these efforts because of how they involve others in the community,” Graddick said. “There’s diversity in the community and people are coming together for the health of the neighborhood.”

One of the most focused efforts of the second Phillips Food Justice Table is the upcoming Mayday parade in Powderhorn Park with In the Heart of the Beast Puppet Theater. Through this event, the organizers hope to bring community members together, inspire and challenge them to take action for a healthier Phillips.

NCAP is planning their next meeting for early April.