Green Garden Bakery
Inspiration can come in all different shapes and sizes, and often times from unexpected places. Earlier this fall, while I was weaving back and forth through the aisles of the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market, I stumbled across a young man selling baked good from Green Garden Bakery. I love hearing other business owners’ stories; why they started a business and hearing the passion in their voice as they talk about their business. I was so curious about this young man and his story, and boy is it a good one.
Back in 2014, Alonzo and friends decided to put on a fundraiser for a friend who was badly hurt in an accident. They were wildly successful selling baked goods with vegetables from their garden; so much so, that the they were able to donate one-third of the profits to their friend in need, one-third was reinvested back into the company, and one-third was split among the employees to compensate for their time; and a business model was born.
This group was born out of an Active Chefs group in Heritage Park- North Minneapolis where youth worked alongside a master gardener in a vegetable garden and then learn how to cook and bake with those vegetables. One of the favorite recipes among the Executives is the Green Tomato Cakes which was born out of this group, and is sold every year at the Green Fair Sale in November. Green Garden Bakery receives technical assistance from Urban Strategies but is completely run by youth and they want it to stay that way. The group has grown immensely since their first fundraiser in 2014; and so has their menu, now selling lemon zucchini bars, carrot pumpkin bread, chocolate brownies, and jalapeño chocolate chip cookies. They have been selling at the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market, catering events, and pop-up shops around Minneapolis. The group has grown to 16 Executive Directors and 150 younger youth that help out through a summer program where they are taught classes by the Executives in baking, gardening, and workforce skills.
Some big highlights and achievements the group told me about when I met with them was participating in MN Cup, a competition for entrepreneurs, and a trip to Miami. Executives from the Green Garden Bakery went to Miami to teach youth at the Miami Urban Strategies site about leadership.
Looking towards the future, Executives talked about having their own kitchen to work out of instead of renting from a shared kitchen and even opening a store front. Also, they plan on incorporating some new gardening techniques like raised bed with efficient irrigation system, hoop houses, and compositing. The group plans on doing another trip to California to replicate the training that they did in Miami. This group of highly motivated individuals will go far in their business and future endeavors and I can’t wait to see where it takes them.