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Mary Rogers, Illana Livstrom, Brandon Roiger and Amy Smith

Growing North Minneapolis (GNM) is an urban agriculture and youth development summer program sited in the North Minneapolis, MN, neighborhood. The program is a university–community partnership between faculty at the University of Minnesota (UMN) and North Minneapolis community partners. We leverage resources from the city of Minneapolis Step-Up program to recruit, train, and employ youth (14–15 years old) who face barriers to employment—particularly youth from low-income families, youth of color, youth from immigrant families, and youth with disabilities. Youth interns are placed in a 10-week-long summer program and are matched with undergraduate student mentors from the UMN and North Minneapolis gardener mentors. The undergraduate students and garden mentors work together to lead teams of youth and work in multiple urban garden sites located in North Minneapolis, a designated low-resource community in the metro area. One of our goals is to develop leadership experience for UMN undergraduate students and improve food and horticultural skills among urban youth through garden-based education. Learning is experiential and contextualized in the various community garden sites through activities focused on food justice and accessibility, food production systems, and horticultural science. Youth learning and development outcomes are reported based on written postprogram qualitative survey questions prompting youth to identify what they learned throughout the program, what they enjoyed the most, and what challenged them after the summer program in 2018. Our results show that youth participants learned across multiple domains of knowledge and valued the social interaction offered by the intergenerational mentorship structure. The GNM program can serve as a model for garden-based experiential learning with early high school youth.