Working through his non-profit called Mentoring Positives social entrepreneur Will Green has a new venture that aims to boost the economic development of young people in his community. With the support of Metcalf’s Market at the Hilldale Shopping Center in Madison a small group of young men on Madison’s Eastside have introduced a line of canned salsa called Off the Block. Created using sustainably grown tomatoes, peppers and onions this commercial product will help to raise much-needed funds for ongoing neighborhood outreach initiatives while teaching valuable lessons in building a small business.
“We created Off The Block Enterprises to help support the non-profit,” Green said. “Long term we want to make more products. We want to give teens and young adults jobs.”
Formerly a supervisor of juvenile offenders in Dane County’s criminal justice system Green began Mentoring Positives in 2004. In the hopes of making more worthwhile contributions to the lives of young people, he created a program that offered positive and healthy lifestyle options. On a piece of property donated by Holy Cross Church called the Edible Acre Green taught the kids in his neighborhood the benefits of organic gardening for the production of nutritious food items. Using the nearby kitchen at the Salvation Army of Dane County on Dardo Road they experimented with a few recipes and turned their surplus produce into salsa.
With the help of several different community partners including the University of Wisconsin Extension Off the Block Enterprises was born. Coordinating with Farm Market Kitchen in Algoma the business locked in a facility to mass produce and package its products for sale. The young men in Green’s program are learning how to forge relationships with retailers like Metcalf’s and market their salsa to the general public. And with an emphasis on sustainable production as the enterprise continues to grow there will likely be additional items added to the line in the near future.
This story was created for the New Green Challenge Facebook Page
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