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Students Grow Veggies For Target Field's Salads, Communities

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- This summer, when Twins fans root for the home team, they can also enjoy another type of root – the kind that grows in a garden.

The Twins have teamed up with teenage students in Minneapolis and St. Paul for a program that gets young people into gardening. The foods grown in the program, which is called Roots for the Hometeam, are used in the salads sold at Target Field. And the kids do much more than just dig in the dirt.

Susan Moores, the creator of the program, said the teens probably don't realize the number of people their work has reached.

"I don't know if they understood that 40,000 people would be able to see what they were doing," she said.

The vegetables the program uses are grown at community gardens. At the Emerge Homegrown Garden in north Minneapolis, students grow some two dozen plants, including collard greens, kale, broccoli and cabbage.

About 20 percent of the produce grown at Emerge Homegrown will end up in salads at Target Field. But the garden also supplies vegetables to neighbors, farmers markets and local restaurants.

J.P. Mason, the program director for the Youth Farm and Market Project, says the gardens build community.

"We do grow a lot of food, but we really do view the cooking and the growing and the selling of the food as a way to build strong young people in our community," he said.

Student Sergio Arredondo says he likes being involved in the program because he enjoys being outdoors. He also says gardening is "kinda fun."

"It makes me feel proud that I am helping out the community with harvesting and feeding some people who like don't have the chance to get fresh vegetables," he said.

Arredondo has grown into a leader among his peers. Based on their gardens, professional chefs work with Arredondo and his friends to create the recipes for the salads sold at Twins games.

"I was thinking about like a Mexican kind of salad with avocado, beans and spices," Arredondo said.

Students see their hard work pay off when they sell such creations.

"Really, what's been the most remarkable -- and probably one of the most gratifying things -- is to see them interact with the fans," Moores said.

The salads are only sold during Sunday home games right inside Gate 34. You can also pick up the recipes or some seeds for your own garden, too.

How do the salads taste?

When Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak asked one salad customer what she thought, the customer replied: "This is the best salad I've had in ages."

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