Chefs often suggest that we eat farm-to-table. But when a meal is plant-based, how can you apply the same concept to a fruit or vegetable?
A group of teens in the Heritage Park neighborhood of north Minneapolis may have found the formula in their youth-run organization, Green Garden Bakery.
Now in its eighth year, its members are trying to change the way people eat and build a menu that is inclusive of all diets. Participants and those in leadership positions — all ranging from 13 to 18 years old — grow the ingredients for their plant-based desserts in their community garden.
"I used to not care for vegetables," says D'Loveantae Allen, Green Garden Bakery's CEO. "Since I've started, I've gained four or five new vegetables I would've never liked before or even dared to try."
Members tend to the vegetables and harvest them, then process and freeze them for winter. (There's also an indoor garden.) They use the produce to bake desserts like jalapeño chocolate chip cookies, chocolate beet cake and East African sweet potato doughnuts — all vegan. Desserts are packed in compostable containers decorated by local students, and the bakery reinvests a third of its profits back into the neighborhood. It's a holistic model that follows food from seed to customer.
The students find inspiration in other restaurants with vegan and vegetarian options. "My favorite vegan desserts are our friend Lutunji's Palate peach cobbler and our doughnut holes. And my favorite plant-based place to eat is Seed Café because of the welcoming staff and décor," says Nimet Abubaker, the group's executive vice president.
Many members of the current leadership are sisters and brothers of the group who, after meeting in after-school cooking programs, founded Green Garden Bakery in 2014. It won't be long before they'll see the seeds their siblings planted years ago come to life. After raising money for a brick-and-mortar location in 2019, and several delays attributed to the pandemic and construction challenges, Green Garden Bakery is slated to open in their neighborhood in May, just in time for a new growing season.
The youth bakers have started training and producing treats in their new commercial kitchen. Until they open, customers can watch the progress and place orders for their green tomato cake and lemon zucchini muffins on the website or through Green Garden Bakery's social media channels.
Green Garden Bakery, 815 Sumner Court, Mpls., greengardenbakery.org