This farm team has been converting vacant lots to tiny farm plots all over Minneapolis since 2011.

If you ever find yourself walking through the heart of Minneapolis, keep an eye out for something unusual: a farm.

What — a working farm plot in the middle of a city? Yep.

16 different farm plots, to be exact, across Minneapolis–St. Paul.


They look like this:

A Stone's Throw lot in the Twin Cities. Image by Carina Lofgren Photography.

Since 2011, Stone's Throw Urban Farm has been busy morphing vacant lots in the Twin Cities into farms that give back to local communities.

"[Our lots] range in size from 0.11 acres to 0.5 acres," farm employee Caroline Devany explained to Upworthy. "Most ... were formerly residential spaces, but several have had less conventional past uses, such as a bowling alley parking lot and [a] funeral home."

Houses, a bowling alley, a funeral home, all converted into small fields that produce a wide variety of crops: tomatoes, squash, peppers, onions, eggplant, greens, herbs, carrots, beets ... the list goes on.

A straight-up RAINBOW of veggies. Image courtesy of Stone's Throw Urban Farm.

So, tell me again why we don't just convert all our unused urban space into farmland?

Farming in the city is a bit out of the ordinary, so it understandably comes with a unique set of challenges.

Though a bowling alley may sound like a cool place to grow onions (or kale, or oregano), the soil quality of vacant lots is another issue entirely. Many of the plots used by Stone's Throw have soil that requires careful attention and added nutrients.

Stone's Throw uses waste from local breweries to produce compost that can help bring depleted soil back to life.

But being "part of, and accountable to, multiple communities," as Caroline explains, provides the farm with many opportunities for unique solutions to match those challenges.

For example, Stone's Throw recently began using waste from local breweries to produce compost that can help bring that depleted soil back to life. Old beer to veggie compost!? Yes, please.

A farm employee sprays crops with fish emulsion, a natural fertilizer. Image by Carina Lofgren Photography.

As a visible part of so many different communities, Stone's Throw tries its best to be a good neighbor — and it has many neighbors. The farm offers a sliding scale, EBT-accessible market stand and hosts volunteer and skill share opportunities for the community.

They also partner with rural farms outside the city (who lack the urban advantage of visibility) in a cooperative called Shared Ground.

Of course, this uncommon land use doesn't come without its naysayers.

The aftermath of the 2009 foreclosure crisis allowed space for new ideas about best uses for land. Areas that had previously housed commercial businesses were suddenly available for new, creative uses. That's what allowed Stone's Throw Urban farm to get up and running — with so many vacant lots, the city was open to using some of them for farming.

But Caroline explains that "as the market recovers, people are interested in seeing built development." Stores. Offices. Housing developments. "Traditional" urban land uses.

An aerial view of one plot in St. Paul. Image via Google Maps.

As a result, sustainable land access is one of the biggest challenges faced by Stone's Throw. In fact, the farm's future may depend on their ability "to better articulate the ways that urban agriculture is a form of development with many benefits to urban residents."

But the Stone's Throw team is determined and optimistic.

And they're not about to let the challenges of urban farming get in their way.

What's more, they're noticing changes in the way the community — and policymakers — talk about issues of food and development. And that gives me hope.

It's not easy to cultivate healthy and just communities, but a little grit and diligence can go a long way. A fondness for weeding probably doesn't hurt either.

Image by Carina Lofgren Photography.

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

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Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

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Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

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