Seeds of Success
Updated: May 7, 2021
Food insecurity is a major problem faced by thousands of Americans every year, and it can lead to a host of health and financial issues. In St. Louis County, 11.6% of people experience food insecurity, which is more than 23,000 people. Access to fresh, healthy foods is also limited for low-income individuals. In order to address this, Community Action Duluth started the Seeds of Success program in 2010. It is designed to provide fresh produce to low-income areas that need them the most.
The Seeds of Success program hosts seasonal farmer’s markets. It features two markets in the summer and one in the winter months. The farmer’s markets operate from the Lincoln Park and Central Hillside neighborhoods, which historically have suffered from food insecurity. On average between six to twelve vendors sell their produce and other wares at the markets, offering a variety of food and products. EBT is accepted at these markets, and individuals using EBT can get up to $15 matched on their purchase. Last year, over half the sales came from EBT customers. The farmer’s markets also feature the Power of Produce Club, originally initiated by the University of Minnesota, where children and teens can get $4 to spend on the fresh produce of their choice. In the future, the program hopes to improve vendor turn-out and incorporate more BIPOC farmers and food entrepreneurs. There is also a need for more collaboration with other local farmer’s markets in order to coordinate and better serve the community.
Seeds of Success also wanted to address the difficulty of obtaining fresh foods in the winter. This inspired them to build a winter greenhouse in order to grow produce year-round. It is low-cost, passive solar, low-carbon, and was built in 2017. It was built in partnership with the Junior League of Duluth, the City of Duluth, the Zeitgeist Center, and Wagner Zaun Architecture. This greenhouse helps to provide food for the winter farmer’s market. Presently it grows primarily salad mixes with various lettuces, Asian greens, mustard greens, and more. The greenhouse has experienced some structural challenges, such as an improper ventilation system. However, with the help of engineering students from the University of Minnesota Duluth, they were able to implement a better system, resulting in the best growing year yet with over 100lbs of salad greens produced. Seeds of Success hopes to build on their relationship with Denfeld High School in the future in order to provide educational opportunities in the space.