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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 www.mnproject.org.

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 www.fruitsofthecity.eventbrite.com

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. www.mnproject.org.

Minnesota’s Distributed Wind Energy Market Assessment Webinar

June 23, 2014

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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
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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

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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: ejgurley@mnproject.org


To stay up-to-date with all the latest Minnesota Project news and activities, be sure to “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mnproject, “follow” us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/themnproject and visit us atwww.mnproject.org 

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Volunteers needed for Micro Farm

June 8, 2014
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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: ejgurley@mnproject.org .   

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 www.fruitsofthecity.org or by contacting the program directly at fruits@mnproject.org 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. www.mnproject.org.

MN Dept. of Commerce to Host Farm-Scale Wind Webinars

May 21, 2014

Bergey Excel 10 kwThe Minnesota Department of Commerce will host public webinars on distributed wind topics on May 22, June 5, and June 26. The
webinars will cover a broad range of topics on market developments and best practices, including performance estimation, site assessment, and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant application process. To register and learn more, see webinars below:

Distributed Wind Market Overview and Opportunities

Thursday, May 22, 2 p.m. CDT

Presentations by:

  • Market Developments: Alice Orrell, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
  • Best Practices in Turbine Selection & Marketing: Val Stori, Interstate Turbine Advisory Council
  • USDA Grant Application Process: Charles Newcomb, Endurance Windpower
  • Panel discussion with these and other industry experts on opportunities for overcoming key market issues and barriers

SWCC certified label

Best Practices for Distributed Wind Project Development and Installation

Thursday, June 5, 2 p.m. CDT

Presentations by:

  • Performance Estimation: Trudy Forsyth, Wind Advisor Team
  • Site Assessment Tools & Techniques: Wes Slaymaker, WES Engineering
  • Guidelines for Installer Training: Jenny Heinzen, Midwest Renewable Energy Association
  • Panel discussion with these and other industry experts on opportunities for overcoming key siting and installation issues and barriers

 

Results of Minnesota Distributed Wind Energy Industry & Market Study

Thursday, June 26, 2 p.m. CDT

This webinar will summarize the findings of a recent study of Minnesota’s distributed wind energy markets. The study was conducted by the Minnesota Renewable Energy Society and partners, and was commissioned by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources. The study includes several components: (1) Understanding market barriers & unrealized opportunities for developing Minnesota’s wind resources; (2) Developing a better understanding of who participates in Minnesota’s distributed wind market; (3) Improving documentation of existing distributed wind installations; (4) Assessing market participants’ perceptions of and use of industry best practices in equipment selection & installation, site assessment and operations & maintenance; and (5) Understanding how market participants get their information & communicate with others in the industry.

2nd Volunteer Planting Day at the Micro-farm, May 31st!

May 21, 2014
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Help Create A New Giving Garden!
Volunteer at our 2nd Planting Day on May 31st.

Join The Minnesota Project, the Emergency Foodshelf Network (EFN) and Hennepin County Public Health as we continue planting our Micro-Farm at the EFN campus in New Hope, MN. All produce grown there will benefit EFN and their 100+ partner food shelves.

EFN Giving Garden Volunteer Workday
Saturday May 31, 2014
Two Shifts: 9am – 1:30 or Noon-4:30

8501 54th Ave North, New Hope, MN 55428

EFNWe need energetic people to garden! While experienced gardeners are welcome, those with no or little experience are just fine. We’ll train you!  Professional urban farmers from Stone’s Throw Farms will provide training in how to do urban food production. You have two shifts to choose from: 9am to 1:30 or Noon-4:30. From Noon to 1:30 we’ll be indoors with some training by our professional farming advisors from Stone’s Throw Farms.  Please bring your own lunch. We’ll provide assorted beverages and snacks.  Sign-up HERE to volunteer.

Come give us a hand! Here’s what you can expect:

  • Volunteers from 1st work dayTransplanting kale, Swiss chard, onions, herbs
  • Planting from seed – collards, radishes, carrots, beets, potatoes
  • Setting up irrigation systems- drip irrigation and sprinklers
  • Weeding
  • Mulching walkways Family plant during 1st work day

We’ll train you on:

  • Useful tools in production gardening
  • Irrigation: approach & systems
  • Harvest & post-harvest handling
  • Season extension
  • Basic seed-saving

So wear your hats and gloves, bring sunglasses, sunscreen and boots or shoes that can get muddy and some marked gardening tools if you’ve got ‘em.  We’ll be growing food for those in need –  rain or shine!

The purpose of this project 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 651-789-3326

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