Mentoring Positives created Off the Block as a platform for our youth to develop skills and their talents.
When Will and Becky Green founded Mentoring Positives in 2004 as a way to serve at-risk Dane County youth, they didn’t have urban agriculture in mind as a means of accomplishing that goal. But an east-side Madison gardening project has become a big part of the Greens’ mentoring program. For six summers, program participants nurtured an acre of tomatoes and peppers to produce a large quantity of salsa to sell to help support the program. The youth involved branded the product “Off the Block” salsa, because they saw the project as a way to keep them out of trouble in their neighborhood. The name also represented their hopes of getting “off their block” in the Darbo-Worthington Park Neighborhood on Madison’s east side.
Off the Block Pizza started as a way to expand our social entrepreneurship venture and bring another great product to market under the Off the Block label. Our pizza recipe was developed by our youth participants, in partnership with the University of Wisconsin Extension. We began offering Off the Block Pizza Internships in the summer of 2017 to provide real-world business and food science experience to our youth participants.