MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s been a year of trauma for the Twin Cities. The south Minneapolis neighborhood was Ground Zero for destruction after the killing of George Floyd. The time since has been marked with regrowth. In a neighborhood that was heavily damaged by fire and looting, hope is once again in the air, and in the ground.

In the middle of a major urban area is an unsuspecting farm, where cabbages, radishes, spinach and other vegetables are growing in a neighborhood where half the kids are born into poverty.

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It’s here where people find comfort after reeling from the death of Floyd and the ongoing pandemic. Urban Ventures, a group that works to send all kids in the area to college, sees this as an extension of the health of the community.

“The psychological trauma, fatigue of the riot, it just … people didn’t want to fight it anymore. They left,” Urban Ventures’ Mark-Peter Lundquist said.

Urban ventures has handed out about 50,000 pounds of produce in a year to about 50,000 people.

“Nutrition really is an integral component of developing kids and their learning skills, behavioral skills, and their future,” Lundquist said.

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Twelve-year-old Heidi Quiroz-Vazquez has been one of the student volunteers. She’s also been doing tutoring with Urban Ventures and went from getting C’s and D’s to getting A’s and B’s.

“I used to believe that I would just give up, and just not do it anymore and I didn’t know what to do. Now I just think that you should say positive things, because one day you will actually do it and you will love when you do it right,” she said.

She says she’s going to keep on learning, because college is a step in the direction of a good career.

Whether it’s in the classroom or in the ground, Urban Ventures is making sure the community will have a better shot at life.

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Three months after the violence, 97% of the businesses Urban Ventures served last year were able to reopen, and they’re continuing efforts to support the community. Click here for more information on how you can help. You can also volunteer as a mentor.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield