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The Minnesota Project's blog features news, analysis, resources, musings, and events Centered on Sustainability in the areas of clean energy, local food, and conservation agriculture. Visit our Web site to learn more about the organization and our work at

MN Environmental Fund Has a Fearless New Leader…

July 10, 2014


July 9, 2014

Minnesota Environmental Fund Announces New Executive Director, Cordelia Pierson

The Minnesota Environmental Fund (MEF), the leading nonprofit that supports giving by employees to organizations that protect, conserve, and restore Minnesota’s environment, has selected Cordelia Pierson as its new executive director.

Trained in environmental science and law, Pierson brings more than twenty years of nonprofit, financial management, and partnership experience serving as a nonprofit executive director, board president, program director, and collaborative leader. As the first executive director for the Minneapolis Riverfront Partnership, Pierson led fundraising, organizational development, and Mississippi riverfront land protection and revitalization with corporate, elected and citizen leaders. With the Trust for Public Land and other MEF environmental members, she helped form and contributed to private-public partnerships to protect and advocate for metro greenways, clean water, land and our Minnesota natural legacy.  She succeeds Ed Marek, who served MEF since 2001.

“We are extremely proud to have Cordelia as Minnesota Environmental Fund’s new executive director,” said Bjorn Gangeness, Minnesota Environmental Fund Board President. “She has demonstrated her passion for Minnesota’s environment and has collaborated with many of our 23 nonprofit environmental members. We are truly excited by her intent to foster deep relationships with the companies and employees who protect, conserve and restore our environment through workplace giving.”

“Minnesota stands out as a place where people value a healthy environment.  With workplace giving for clean water and our quality of life, employers engage and retain talented, committed employees,” said Pierson. “I’m excited about the opportunity to grow Minnesota’s investments in our precious air, land, and water resources through strong relationships with our workplace campaign partners, donors, and volunteers.”

About the Minnesota Environmental Fund

The Minnesota Environmental Fund, a 501(c) nonprofit organization, educates and provides employers and their employees with a vital, easy workplace giving choice to financially support more than twenty nonprofit organizations that protect clean water, clean air, land, and food; advocate for environmental justice; and promote a clean, safe and healthy environment. The Minnesota Project is a member organization of The Minnesota Environmental Fund.  For more information about MEF, its environmental partners, and workplace giving for Minnesota’s environment, please visit us on the web at

Bjorn Gangeness, President, Board of Directors
Minnesota Environmental Fund,

Cordelia Pierson, Executive Director
Minnesota Environmental Fund,

Phone: 651-917-1876



August 19th Class “Yardscaping with Fruit: Apples, Berries, Cherries, and More!”

July 7, 2014

Fruits of the City Logo-roundAre you considering planting your first fruit tree?  Perhaps you already have a few fruiting trees and shrubs and are deciding what to plant next.  Join the Minnesota Project’s Fruits of the City program August 19th as we learn more about some of the different varieties of apples, berries, cherries, and plums (and more!) along with the pros and cons of each.  Find the perfect fruiting plant(s) for your tastes and yard conditions!

Edible Landscaping is made up of several tiers of plant types and each is very important for maximizing the production of food on your urban landscape.  This class will focus on going through some of the different cultivars and species of the tree and shrub layer.  Each one of the plants highlighted bear delicious and edible fruits that can be used for fresh eating, baking, juicing, drying, etc. Register online at

Yardscaping with Fruit: Apples, Berries, Cherries, and More!
Tuesday, August 19th, 6:30 – 8:00 pm
Eastside Food Co-op –  Granite Studio Room
2551 Central Avenue NE, Minneapolis, MN 55418
Cost: $20 ($15 for Eastside Co-op Members)

Presenter: Rebecca Koetter is a consultant working with various edible trees and shrubs throughout the Metro area.  She has experience designing, selecting, implementing, harvesting and processing from nearly every fruit from a woody plant growing in MN.  Rebecca has an undergraduate from Dept. of Forest Resources, Master’s degree from College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resources Science and worked with the Dept. of Forest Resources, University of Minnesota for five years.


Eastside Food Co-op is located on the corner of Central Avenue NE and 26th Avenue NE.  Parking is available in the Eastside Food Co-op parking lot.

For more information contact Fruits of the City at 651-789-3321 or or visit these websites:

Centered on Sustainability: A Focus on Fruits of the City

June 30, 2014

Fruits of the City Logo-roundJoin The Minnesota Project on July 23rd for an evening of food, friends, and refreshments as we learn more about the Minnesota Project’s 35 year history of advancing community based solutions in Minnesota and take an in-depth look at the Fruits of the City program.

The Minnesota Project’s Fruits of the City program matches residential fruit tree owners and nearby orchards with trained volunteers that harvest their surplus fruit and share it with those in need. Since 2009, this innovative and award winning program has supported Minnesota food shelves and the families they serve with over 230,000 pounds of fresh and healthy fruit (over 2,227,000 servings) that would have otherwise gone to waste. Join us as we learn more about this growing program and what we can do to support increased access to fresh food for all Minnesotans.

Wednesday, July 23rd 2014
6:00 PM to 7:30 PM
Home of MN Project Board Member Rändi Setter
11991 Janero Avenue N., Hugo, MN 55038

Appetizers and beverages will be provided. The suggested donation for attending the event is $20, but if you are new to The Minnesota Project, please come as our guest. For directions and to RSVP, visit

Harvest Photo - Volunteer Group

About The Minnesota Project
The Minnesota Project is a nonprofit organization championing the sustainable production and equitable distribution of energy and food in communities across Minnesota. To best address the multiple factors that define sustainability, the organization focuses on three areas – the development and efficient use of clean renewable energy, promotion of sustainable agriculture practices and production, and consumption of local, sustainably grown food. Founded more than 30 years ago, today the organization works toward establishing a sustainable Minnesota by 2039 through education and outreach, as well as developing key ground-up, grassroots initiatives targeted at empowering communities and their leaders.

Minnesota’s Distributed Wind Energy Market Assessment Webinar

June 23, 2014


Minnesota is a national leader in the large wind energy market.  We are ranked #7 in terms of total electricity generated by wind in 2013, and #5 in terms of percentage of electricity generated by wind power. But what is the impact of the distributed wind energy market in Minnesota – the electricity generated by small (less than 100 kW) and medium (up to 1000 kW) wind turbines and the economic impact of that market?

Over the past four months, MN Renewable Energy Society, The Minnesota Project, and partners have conducted market surveys, numerous interviews with market participants and a review of the practices of distributed wind energy companies  for the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources.  Learn the most recent information about the small and medium-sized wind energy market in Minnesota by joining the MRES Distributed Wind Energy Market Webinar on June 26 at 2 p.m. Central Time. The Webinar is open to all.

Register HERE!

Want more info? Learn what distributed wind energy is HERE.





Be a Micro-Farm Hand

June 23, 2014
No, we don’t need micro-hands, we need hands on a micro-farm!

10The micro-farm is six weeks old! And despite all the rain we’ve had we are still on track to have a good first harvest in a few short weeks. We’ve already had to thin out some of the crops like Swiss Chard, Radishes and Kale! And the Tomatoes are appearing on the plants and we’re getting them up in cages and on trellises.

Now is the time when we need lots of tending. The more care we put into this plot project, the better our harvest will be in quality and quantity. We want to get the best food we can to those who are in most need.

We have several days a week as options. Click below to see the schedule and sign up. We’ll also be scheduling harvest days when we will need people in the fields and in the warehouse washing and packing. Look for a separate announcement for those.

Click here to sign up!

Every Tuesday, 4-6pm
Every Thursday, 9-11am
These Saturdays: July 5, 19 | Aug. 2, 16, 30 | Sept. 13, 27

8501 54th Ave North, New Hope, MN 55428


The purpose of the micro-farm is to demonstrate how much produce can be grown on small acreages including a corporate campus worksite.  Please join us in this great initiative!
The Emergency Foodshelf Network is located at: 8501 54th Avenue North, New Hope, MN 55428

For more information please call EJ at The Minnesota Project at 651-789-3326 or email:

To stay up-to-date with all the latest Minnesota Project news and activities, be sure to “like” us on Facebook at, “follow” us on Twitter at and visit us 

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Volunteers needed for Micro Farm

June 8, 2014
Micro Farm is growing food for area food shelves

The Minnesota Project is partnering with the Emergency Foodshelf Network (EFN) to turn their front yard into a Micro Farm for growing fresh vegetables for the 100+ foodshelves they serve.  All ready over 20 different vegetable varieties are in the ground with the help of many volunteers under the guidance of urban agriculture specialist Eric Larsen of Stone’s Throw Urban Farm.  This project will serve as a pilot and the lessons learned and our best practices will be documented and shared with other companies, parks, churches, schools and groups that are interested in creating edible landscapes for growing food for those in need.

Volunteer shift receiving instructions.

Volunteer shift receiving instructions.

In collaboration with Stone’s Throw Urban Farm, The Minnesota Project has designed a garden that will maximize the amount of produce grown in a relatively small space.  A hoop house will be constructed later this summer in order to extend the growing season, allowing volunteers to harvest produce even after the first frost.

Fruit trees will also be planted along the sides of their building to make use of all available space.  “We are very excited to have the support of Hennepin County Public Health Department through the MN Department of Health’s Statewide Health Improvement Program (SHIP) for this demonstration project.  This Micro Farm will show how intensive small scale farming techniques can be partnered with community volunteers and organizations to grow an abundance of healthy food on a small plot of land.  Even on the front lawn of businesses in an industrial area.  We are proving how community partnerships can impact food insecurity” said David Glenn, The Minnesota Project Executive Director.

All the food grown in the garden has been planted, will be maintained and harvested with the help of volunteers.  The fresh locally grown produce will then be distributed to food shelves throughout the greater Twin Cities Metro area at no cost.  Many foodshelf clients express a desire to eat more produce, so the additional fresh groceries will be a welcome addition at the foodshelves.

“There can be a strong link between food insecurity and obesity” explains Lori Kratchmer, Emergency Foodshelf Network’s Executive Director.  “That is why it is so important to find innovative ways to get more quality and nutritious food into the hands of our food shelf partners.”

The Minnesota Project is recruiting volunteers throughout the growing season to help with the garden.  If you would like to join that team, please contact EJ Gurley, the project coordinator at The Minnesota Project, 651-789-3325 or email: .   

The Minnesota Project Honored for Innovative Environmental Project

May 28, 2014

The Minnesota Project, along with their partners, has been selected as a winner for their Fruits of the City project in the Food Stewardship category for the 20th Annual Environmental Initiative Awards. This program annually honors innovative projects that have achieved extraordinary environmental results by harnessing the power of partnership. Winners were announced at the Environmental Initiative Awards celebration on Thursday, May 22, in Minneapolis.

EI-Awards-FoodStewardshipGroup- Credit photographer Megan Dobratz from studio Tart

Photo courtesy of Megan Dobratz with studio Tart

The Fruits of the City program addresses the lack of access to fresh, healthy fruit for the economically disenfranchised by coordinating teams of volunteers and fruit tree owners to deliver thousands of pounds of fresh fruit to local food shelves and food banks.  This program has harvested and delivered over 230,000 pounds of fruit to over 30 area food shelves since 2009.

“The Minnesota Project and their partners have worked together on a project that is creating a better environment for all Minnesotans,” said Mike Harley, executive director of Environmental Initiative.  “We are grateful for their passion and support of our belief that by working together, we can achieve great things.”

“We are honored to have been selected and recognized for this great community effort.” Says David Glenn who serves as executive director for The Minnesota Project.  “It is a project that brings together efforts of individuals as volunteers and tree owners, farmers as giving orchard owners, corporate sponsors and group volunteer coordinators, food shelves and food banks as food distributors.  All parties react swiftly to food availability and assist in getting this fresh food source to those in need in a timely manner” says Glenn.

“With the help of over 500 volunteers in 2013, the program collected and donated a record 128,000 pounds of fruit that was shared with hungry families throughout the region”  notes Jared Walhowe, coordinator of the Fruits of the City program.  “None of this would be possible without the generosity of our registered fruit tree owners, our supporters and our dedicated volunteers who join us for harvesting events.”

Fruit tree owners and volunteers can learn more about how to participate in the Fruits of the City program at or by contacting the program directly at or 651-789-3321.

The Minnesota Project was also nominated in the Energy and Climate category at this year’s Environmental Initiative Awards for their work to retrofit 16 Minnesota poultry facilities with LED lighting technology –reducing energy consumption by approximately 70% with simple paybacks for farmers of 3 years or less.  “The Minnesota Project was especially honored this year to have been nominated as a finalist in two categories, and amongst such a great cadre of exciting projects” said Glenn.  “Our work demonstrates the interconnectedness of energy, food and agriculture – the platforms The Minnesota Project focuses its work.”

About the Awards

The Environmental Initiative Awards was established to honor those working in partnership and encourage collaborative approaches to environmental problem solving. From large statewide efforts to small-scale locally based projects, many of Minnesota’s most innovative environmental efforts have succeeded as a result of collaboration. The program annually honors innovative projects that have achieved extraordinary environmental results by working in partnership.

About Environmental Initiative

Environmental Initiative is a nonprofit organization that builds partnerships to develop collaborative solutions to Minnesota’s environmental problems. Environmental Initiative brings together leaders from nonprofits, businesses, and government agencies to find consensus on critical issues and respond with actions that have measurable, positive environmental outcomes.

About The Minnesota Project

The Minnesota Project is a nonprofit organization championing the sustainable production and equitable distribution of energy and food in communities across Minnesota. To best address the multiple factors that define sustainability, the organization focuses on three areas – the development and efficient use of clean renewable energy, promotion of sustainable agriculture practices and production, and consumption of local, sustainably grown food. Founded more than 30 years ago, today the organization works toward establishing a sustainable Minnesota by 2039 through policy research, education and outreach, as well as developing key ground-up, grassroots initiatives targeted at empowering communities and their leaders.


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