Getting to the Roots of Food
Left to right: Amalia Galvan, Wihinape Hunt and Felicia Galvan work the Roots for the Home Team booth at a recent Twins game.
Four days a week, Felicia Galvan, 16, her younger sister Amalia and Wihinape Hunt, 14, work on a farm in Hugo, and on the seventh day they go to a baseball game.
But instead of watching the Twins beat the Tigers 7-1 in mid-July, the three Native American girls were busy selling fans salads made from produce they had helped grow as part of the Native American program, Dream of Wild Health.
It was the first time the girls had manned the Roots for the Home Team cart at Target Field. One of two featured salads that day was Wild Gitigan, the multi-ingredient salad students at Dream of Wild Health dreamed up.
In order to participate in the garden portion of the 501c3 Dream of Wild Health program students must be from a local tribe and write an essay on what they hope to get out of the experience.
The Roots for the Home Team cart at Target Field.
“We’re trying to heal our community, to grow good food (which is also seen as medicine),” says Estella LaPointe, the community program manager, who was also at the game. A portion of the produce they grow is from indigenous and heirloom seeds, such as Dakota corn, Lakota squash and black beans, seeds that have been passed down from countless medicine men.
Working the Twins game pays $9 an hour, and in many cases serves as a resume builder for students to go on to a job in foodservice. Participants also sell produce at local farmers markets.
Roots for the Home Team is the brainchild of Sue Moores, a dietitian with a mission to teach youngsters an appreciation for food, starting from the soil up. Childhood obesity was the subject of the healthy food conversation six years ago when she came up with the idea for Roots, but “this is much more fun,” she says.
Moores, a baseball fan, teamed up with the community fund at the Twins organization, along with three local garden projects, Dream of Wild Health, Urban Roots in St. Paul and Youth Farm, which farms in four neighborhoods in Minneapolis and one in West St. Paul.
The salads, which include a scoop of the kid-inspired “recipe” topping lettuce, sell for $8. Add chicken and it’s $10. About 30 to 40 percent of sales come from sampling and customers chatting with the students. They sell around 70 to 90 salads a game for the 10 weekends they are there. The idea, Moores says, is to manage inventory so they run out of salads so students don’t have to see their hard work dumped in the trash.
Sue Moores helps community gardens hit a home run.
Delaware North, the stadium foodservice vendor, preps the salads to ensure food safety.
Roots for the Home Team does more than provide a larger stage for the community garden programs.
“We give them a grant, buy their vegetables at a good price and pay the youth,” Moores says.
Now in its fourth year at Target Field, Roots is expanding to Gopher home football games at TCF Bank Stadium in the fall. “I would love for them to be on a college campus,” Moores says of the youngsters in the program. The salads are also being sold in the deli section of Mississippi Markets, Kowalski’s and the Wedge Co-Op, and will be on the menu at Minneapolis and St. Paul public schools.
With the generous support of some noteworthy sponsors, Moores has been a one-woman band so far. But she’s thinking about the possibility of expanding the program to other major league baseball cities.
To see the colorful Roots cart in every ballpark in America may not be a pipe dream. So far Moores has turned baseball fans into salad fans—no small feat for a crowd raised on hot dogs, peanuts and Cracker Jacks.