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 www.mnproject.org.
The Garden Gleaning Project has been working to increase access to healthy food for those in need by creating collaborations between gardeners and food shelves since 2011. In this time we’ve facilitated nearly 30,000 lbs of fresh vegetable donations to local food shelves. Along the way we’ve kept track of the strategies we’ve used to build relationships between gardeners and food shelves with the hope of someday sharing our findings and best practices and assisting communities everywhere in improving access to healthy foods. All of our work has been documented and included in our newly published Garden Gleaning Project Toolkit!
This Toolkit is designed to give food shelves and gardeners in their communities “tools” to build a strong working foundation and to more effectively facilitate the increased access of homegrown produce that is available.
For gardeners, this toolkit provides resources and advice for how to best partner with your nearby food shelf. It provides practical advice on figuring out what to grow, how to pack produce for donation, setting up a donating system, legality and liability, safe food handling, and much more.
For food shelves, it is a handy guide for starting or developing a gleaning program to support your food shelf with more neighborhood sourced produce donations. It covers various strategies food shelves can take for reaching out to growers, building relationships in your neighborhood, and tracking and managing fresh food donations.
“Dig in” and check out the entire toolkit HERE. We invite you to participate in the Garden Gleaning Project. Let us know your thoughts about this toolkit and your recommendations for improving its usefulness for more people. Send comments and recommendations to email@example.com
Working together, we will achieve our shared goals of building a world where we bring down the barriers to eating healthy foods!
Over the past year, The Minnesota Project has been working with twelve poultry producers to introduce ultra-energy efficient LED lights into their poultry barns. To date, we’ve implemented over 2,500 LED lights to reduce poultry farmers’ input costs and bring healthy meat to the Minnesota consumer.
Though the energy savings for our farm participants have been obvious (imagine changing out a 75 watt incandescent bulb for a 12 watt LED bulb!), we have anecdotal evidence of other benefits. Several farmers report having calmer birds and one saw improved feed conversion.
Calmer birds may not mean much to the non-farmer, but for poultry farmers, an even-tempered turkey may mean reduced instances of turkey cannibalism. Though a biased source, the lighting industry has conducted studies which indicate a red-heavy lighting spectrum can trigger a pecking response and aggressive behavior. In contrast, blue and green tend to keep the peace amongst winged aggressors. A green-heavy light spectrum may also improve feed conversion, the ratio of pounds of feed to pounds of meat. A good feed conversion ratio can improve farmer profitability by reducing feed costs. In sum, LED lights may present an advantage for poultry farmers because they have an adjustable light spectrum, unlike other conventional lighting systems.
Please stay tuned to TMP’s Centered on Sustainability blog for developments on our LED poultry lighting project…and to learn how to fend off a flock of turkeys in case they attack.
Fruit Tree Pruning
Saturday, March 23rd, 2013
10:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Dodge Nature Center
365 Marie Avenue W.
West St. Paul, MN 55118
This class will consist of 2 sessions: a classroom lecture from 10 am – 12 pm on the latest theory and practical applications for pruning and training, and an outdoor demonstration and practice session from 1 – 3 pm at the nearby Dodge Orchard, with a one hour lunch break in between. Specific topics to be addressed include fruit production and tree longevity optimization, maintenance minimization, ease of harvest, and pesticide applications. During the outdoor session, participants will be guided in a hands-on experience, working on trees using hand pruners, handsaws, pole saws, and spreaders. The cost of this workshop is $30.
Advanced registration is required through www.fruittreepruning_fotc.eventbrite.com or by calling 651-789-3321.
About the Presenter: Jeffrey Johnson is a Landscape Gardener with the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. He is a woody plants specialist maintaining the trees and shrubs collections throughout the public cultivated areas. Jeffrey has been a professional horticulturalist for over 30 years. At the Arboretum, he has managed the HRC’s orchards, Landscape Plants Breeding Program, recruited and retained a substantial volunteer corps, taught adult education classes, given tours, and attracted donors.
Contact for Further Information:
Fruits of the City
With support from the Minnesota Department of Commerce – Division of Energy Resources, we are pleased to announce our second Farm Energy Auditor Training Program. The first such program in the State of Minnesota and one of the few in the country, The Minnesota Project put on its initial round of training last year and saw immediate interest with a full class of students and a sizable waiting list besides.
The Farm Energy Auditor Training Program serves to increase the number of farm energy auditors available to Minnesota agribusinesses, boost farm energy efficiency activity, and qualify farmers for efficiency funding. Individuals interested in or already engaged in the energy efficiency field, are invited to apply.
UPDATE: The application period is now closed.
For a look at the job of a farm energy auditor, please watch this short video that we produced last year: http://youtu.be/NW0rO0APktk
And for photos from last year’s site visits, see our Facebook page.
Our program offers training on energy efficiency matters tailored to farm operations and rural livelihoods, including:
- Eight energy efficiency training modules on auditing poultry, beef, swine, dairy, greenhouse, and grain operations, as well as grocery and convenience stores (each approximately 2 hours).
- Technical instruction from and access to experienced Professional Engineers and Certified Energy Managers working in agriculture.
- Access to specially designed energy auditing calculators for future auditing projects.
- And, new this year: A one-year software license to EnSave’s Farm Energy Auditing Tool (FEAT) software to streamline energy audit reporting for agricultural energy management plans under the USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service – Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), along with how-to training on the FEAT software by EnSave staff.
Classes will be delivered online through on-demand webinars (video and slides) to avoid unnecessary travel. Each class is roughly two hours. Webinars are scheduled once-weekly for eight weeks from March 4 to April 30 and trainees will be able to watch at a time convenient to them. Program staff will be available each week by phone to answer questions and give feedback on learning.
Coursework also includes three hands-on site visits where trainees will gain experience with conducting a farm energy audit. Site visits can be expected to last four to five hours. In addition to site visits and scheduled calls, discussion and learning will be facilitated through an online training hub and discussion board.
- Program tuition is $350. Trainees will qualify for a $350 tuition rebate, plus $150 bonus incentive (a total value of $500), upon successful completion of their final project, an on-farm energy audit.
- Fifteen seats are available. All levels of experience are welcome to apply.
- March 3-9: Session 1 Window (Intro/Dairy Pt. 1)
- March 10-16: Session 2 Window (Dairy Pt. 2/Beef)
- March 15: Site Visit 1 – near Hutchinson, MN (Dairy)
- March 17-23: Session 3 Window (Swine)
- March 24-30: Session 4 Window (Poultry)
- March 26: Site Visit 2 (Poultry)
- March 31-April 6: Session 5 Window (Grain Drying)
- April 7-13: Session 6 Window (Greenhouse)
- April 14-20: Session 7 Window (Convenience/Grocery Store)
- April 18: Site Visit 3 (Greenhouse)
- April 21-27: Session 8 Window (FEAT Software & Grantwriting)
- April 30 & May 2: Makeup dates, if needed
Schedule subject to change. Note (Feb. 27): The date for Site Visit 1 has been updated to Friday, March 15. With the remaining, students will be provided at least two weeks’ advance notice regarding exact site visit dates and locations.
The deadline to apply is 11:59 PM, February 24. Applicants will be notified of their acceptance the week of February 25 to March 1. To apply, download a Word document or a PDF of the application and email/scan or mail to:
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
- Mail: The Minnesota Project, 1885 University Ave. W., Suite 315, Saint Paul, MN 55104
For further information contact:
For the past year, The Minnesota Project has been introducing LED lighting in poultry barns through a Conservation & Applied Research Development Grant from the Minnesota Division of Energy Resources. The state-of-the-art LED lights, designed and produced by ONCE Innovations of Plymouth, MN, offer energy efficiency savings, as well as the promise of increased production through more balanced lighting and a light spectrum tailored to poultry production.
The Minnesota Project is proud to announce it has completed the implementation stage of the project by confirming participation from Life Science Innovations/Willmar Poultry of Willmar, MN. This poultry farm will install a grand total of 1,375 energy efficient LED lights across nine barns as flocks rotate out. In total, The Minnesota Project is working with 13 poultry farms and has introduced over 2,500 energy saving LED lights for some happy birds.
The next steps in the project are to monitor the LED lights’ practical performance and track energy cost savings. Ultimately, The MN Project aims to develop incentive programming with electric utilities to assist their conservation improvement planning (CIP) requirements under Minnesota law. Stay tuned for more developments!
The Minnesota Project’s Fruits of the City is offering a Soil Basics class at ICA Food Shelf 12990 St. Davids Rd. Minnetonka, MN from 6:30 to 8pm on February 12th, 2013.
Join us as we learn the basics of soil nutrition, aeration, drainage, and the soil food web, with an emphasis on conditioning and maintaining healthy soil.
Our presenter Fred Rozumalski is an ecologist and landscape architect with the water resources division of Barr Engineering Company located in Minneapolis, MN. A believer in the power of every land owner’s potential to help regenerate ecological balance, Fred has developed a specialty in designing practical landscapes that sequester carbon, harvest storm water, and conserve energy. Fred’s work ranges from writing city-wide green infrastructure plans and restoring native ecosystems to designing corporate urban environments that feature perennial food crops. Fred is committed to teaching others to implement sustainable landscapes.
The cost for this workshop is $20. Advance registration is required through SoilBasics_FoTC.eventbrite.com or by contacting Fruits of the City via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone (651-789-3321).
Upcoming 2013 classes include Fruit Tree Pruning, Bees and Pollination, and Fruit Pests and Diseases. For more information on all of our 2013 classes, visit our Fruit Tree Education page.
The Minnesota Project is very excited to announce its newest team member, Fritz Ebinger. Fritz will be working as The Minnesota Project’s Clean Energy Program Manager on farm energy efficiency and rural solar development initiatives.
Fritz has nearly 10 years of experience working with a variety of stakeholders on sustainable rural development matters. He was first infused with sustainability principles as an Agroforestry Volunteer in the Peace Corps (Panama ’01-’03). Upon his return, he attended Drake Law School in Des Moines where he researched economic development opportunities in rural Iowa and focused his studies on agricultural, environmental, and natural resources law. Following graduation in 2008, he passed the Minnesota Bar and served as a judicial law clerk for Judges Joe Chase and Robert Birnbaum in Olmsted County. There, he had the chance to work on fascinating environmental and zoning lawsuits related to biofuels development. He comes to The Minnesota Project from his namesake law firm where he concentrated on distributed electrical generation (small wind energy), agricultural law, and business formation.
Fritz enjoys working with rural communities and is happiest when he can connect people with resources so they can implement their ideas, especially around clean energy. In his free time, he picks up the trail of Legos and stuffed animals his young kids leave behind and fits in quality time with his wife where possible. He’s known to compete in the occasional road race or triathlon too.
Here’s what Fritz had to say about working with The Minnesota Project: “When I think of ingenuity, I think of the communities across Minnesota and the Midwest that are able to realize the natural resources around them for economic growth. The Minnesota Project has a long history of serving and promoting that ingenuity and I’m excited to join the effort.”
Fritz welcomes your introductions and inquiries. His contact information:
Fritz Ebinger, J.D.
The Minnesota Project
We send our best wishes to Jake Fischer, former Clean Energy Program Manager. Jake is returning to South Dakota with his wife to work on his family farm, practice law, and start a family of his own. Thanks and congratulations Jake!