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As leaves fall, The Minnesota Project grows

October 12, 2010

 Hi there—I’m Rebecca Harnik, the newest addition to The Minnesota Project’s Local Foods team. I’ll be serving at the Minnesota Project through August 2011 with the Minnesota GreenCorps, an Americorps program that is coordinated by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. The Minnesota GreenCorps started in 2009 as an environmentally focused branch of AmeriCorps. This year the program sent 26 AmeriCorps members to organizations and city offices throughout the state in areas including energy conservation, air quality, waste prevention, and living green outreach.

My focus at the Minnesota Project will be on local foods, primarily with the Heartland Food Network and the Fruits of the City Program. I will be helping expand the work that Heartland Food Network does currently to include creating a resource guide for “Greening your Kitchen” which will help people in the food service industry implement composting programs, reduce use of toxic chemicals in their kitchens, and source more locally grown food. I will also help expand the Fruits of the City program by conducting outreach to schools, churches, and other groups to expand our volunteer base to pick fruit from fruit trees and grow the program.  These progams already have a great foundation, but I am looking forward to helping to reach more people and make even more of a positive impact on people’s lives in Minnesota.

I graduated from Macalester College last year with a double major in Geography and Environmental Studies, and have worked on food issues in a variety of different areas. I spent a summer working at an inspiring nonprofit in Washington DC called DC Central Kitchen, which triggered my interest in community building and food issues. The organization uses food systems to offer job training and meal distribution to combat homelessness and hunger. Last fall, I examined a completely different side of the food spectrum at Eureka recycling in Minneapolis, where I worked as a Commercial Composting Intern. I worked to extend a composting infrastructure to establishments throughout Minneapolis which were interested in reducing their waste. The program was also implemented at the Mill City Farmers market, which is a zero-waste market.

My senior capstone research at Macalester examined urban agriculture as a tool for community revitalization. I explored the link between local agricultural systems and social well-being in Milwaukee, WI and in Havana, Cuba. Needless to say, I’m excited to be expanding my knowledge of local food systems and working this year at the Minnesota Project!

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