Planting Seeds to Reinspire the American Dream & Grow Opportunities for Generations To Come
If you’ve driven along Meander between Arrowhead Drive and 116 over the past few summers, you may have noticed a diverse group of children and adults farming the fields across from the Fields of Medina West neighborhood in Medina, Minnesota. The property is owned by the Cavanaugh family and the farmers are there thanks to an organization, called Route 1.
Founded by Marcus Carpenter, Route 1 is an early-stage social enterprise that works to increase food access, specifically within communities of color here in Minnesota. They do it by supporting and empowering Black, Brown and Indigenous Emerging Farmers. In essence, they plan to support Farmers who are growing nutrient dense, culturally relevant food in hopes that they will be able to (a) run a profitable farm enterprise and (b) provide quality food for their community. Culturally, these farmers are mainly from 5 demographics: African immigrants, Latino, Asian, Indigenous, and African American. Route 1 also believes that there are significant health outcomes that can be positively influenced by ensuring communities of color have access to regeneratively grown food sources. Lastly, their work also inspires them to introduce urban youth to regenerative agriculture and create pathways for education and careers in agricultural production and processing, conservation, energy and the various eco-related sciences. Not only does their academy allow these youth from across the Twin Cities to come out and “get their hands in the soil”, but also provides the opportunity for them to participate in agricultural camps at various Universities across the country.
During our first conversation, which was one of the most inspiring I’ve personally had in quite some time, Marcus and I talked about a variety of topics. During it, Marcus emphasized how “Access to clean, regeneratively grown food has been one of the most important determinants of health and financial stability since the beginning of time. As Americans climb back to our new normal following the global pandemic and the murder of George Floyd, Minnesotans have an opportunity to be a beacon of light, hope, access, and inclusion for the world to follow, especially as it relates to nutrition and sustainable agriculture. At Route 1, we look forward to our neighbors joining us in this effort to deliver good food to the communities who need it most.”
However, none of Route 1’s mission would be possible without the generous help of people like John and Joe Cavanaugh Jr. as well as various sponsors. Route 1’s goal is to showcase the brands that are supporting their efforts with one upscale, temporary sign showcasing the corporate sponsor logos. With the 14-acres that Route 1 leases in Medina, they estimate the 25 farmers will grow enough food to feed at least 5,000 consumers and their families this year. The food will be distributed at two farmer’s market locations: one in the East Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis and the other in South Hopkins, MN. Both areas have been dramatically impacted by the pandemic.
Who is Marcus Carpenter?
Marcus’ passion for farming, nature preservation and the cultivation of emerging farmers comes from a deep seeded love for the earth and his foundational roots. As a fourth-generation farm kid, these family roots were passed down from the Carpenter Family Farm, a 180-acre family farm located in Poinsett County, Arkansas. After a successful career as a fullback for the Wisconsin Badgers, Marcus sharpened his craft for creating strategic business solutions for his clients in the vibrant Minneapolis market. Over his 23-year career, he has led top sales and marketing divisions for companies including Philip Morris USA, The National Basketball Association, CA Technologies, Jostens and Rewriting the Code, a tech non-profit focused on supporting Women in Tech. Marcus holds a B.S. with a triple major in Sociology, Behavioral Sciences and Law, Criminal Justice from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
As the great-grandson of one of Poinsett County’s first black, multi-acre landowners, Marcus believes that by empowering, encouraging, and supporting the next generation of emerging farmers, America can continue to preserve and promote the legacy of farming and the values of hard work, perseverance, patience, and integrity.
Moving Forward and Getting Involved
Please stay tuned for continued coverage by LocalTies of this emerging organization and strongly encourage anyone who wants to be a part of it, to visit their website at https://www.route1mn.org/.
This is only the beginning of a story that will only grow in scope and impact by building stronger, self-sustaining foundations for those who need it now more than ever.