Foodscaping Downtown Mpls

grgardens-1Green Rock Apartments is growing veggies in the median! A long narrow space between parking lots at our downtown Minneapolis location on Washington Ave is now home to all sorts of veggies: broccoli tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers, eggplant, bean, and kale. Plus we’ve got a giant wormwood plant and climbing morning glories, and of course, everything here is organically grown without the use of chemicals.

It’s what we like to call foodscaping – growing edible plants in places where we might otherwise put grass, flowers or shrubs. We have taken this approach to all of our properties, providing the perk of fresh veggies to our tenants.

Scroll down for more pics. Happy gardening!

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Minnneapolis Energy Options – an alternative to Xcel Energy?

Did you catch last week’s show? If not, listen to it here!

Our guests Louis Alemayehu and Dylan Kesti shared their vision for Minneapolis Energy Options (MEO) – a coalition of organizations and neighbors interested in expanding energy options for the City of Lakes. MEO supports more conservation and energy efficiency, local renewable energy and democratic control of our energy system.

There are lots of ways to get involved with this righteous campaign:

  1. Log on to DONATE & VOLUNTEER: http://www.minneapolisenergyoptions.org/

  2. Host a House Party to get your friends and neighbors informed and involved with the campaign email dylan@minneapolisenergyoptions.org or call 612-627-4035 x305

  3. Attend the MEO Monthly Meeting June 11th at 6PM at Powderhorn Park

  4. Join in at the UpTown Neighborhood Conversation June 10th at 3:30-6PM at Common Roots Cafe 2558 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55405

  5. If you live in Minneapolis, call your City Council Member to support Minneapolis Energy Options and Vote yes to put our question on the ballot, and keep our energy options open.

  6. If you are connected with any organization, neighborhood group, place of worship, or other network that could help get the word out, schedule a time to talk with them about MEO in a meeting between now and July. If you want someone from the campaign to come in and give more information, notify dylan@minneapolisenergyoptions.org

ABOUT THE GUESTS

Louis Alemayehu is a writer, educator, activist, poet, father, and grandfather of African and Native American heritage. He offers workshops and consultations on racism, culture, environmental justice and community building. His writing has appeared in national and international publications such as The International Process Work Journal, DRUM, the Transitions Network and the Energy Bulletin.  Alemayehu is a founding member of the seminal, award winning poetry/jazz ensemble,Ancestor Energy.  In 2009 the Minnesota Spoken Word Association presented Alemayehu an Urban Griot award for 30 years of excellence as a pioneering spoken word artist. In late 2011, Louis developed the concept of Minneapolis Energy Options (MEO) with George Crocker and Timothy Denher-Thomas.  In 2012 the Process Work Institute in Portland Oregon certified Louis as a “World Work Elder”.

Dylan Kesti is the campaign coordinator with Minneapolis Energy Options a campaign to keep our city’s energy options open so we can secure a clean, affordable, reliable, and local energy future. Dylan holds a dual degree in global politics and communication from The College of St. Scholastica, and a M.A. in global environmental policy from American University based in Washington D.C. Dylan worked as an intern with the Environmental Working Group in Washington, D.C. lobbying for a fair and sustainable farm bill. Most recently Dylan was teaching with the Higher Education Consortium of Urban Affairs (HECUA) as the Instructor to a semester long program on Environmental Sustainability. As an organizer Dylan continues to work for social, racial, and environmental justice in policy and practice as a policy advocate and activist. He is a co-founder of The Great Minnesota Outing, volunteers with Youth Farm and Market Project, and is a member of Sustainable Progress through Engaging Active Citizens (SPEAC).

Travel for Tomorrow: Eco-Friendly Tourism and Making Changes in the Hotel Industry

It’s not every day that you see a hotel using solar panels and trying to do something different with their water resources. However, hotels and other tourism businesses are really working towards a brighter future by making eco-conscious decisions. For many of these businesses, choosing environmentally friendly and socially aware practices began as a way to reach out to the community and also save on energy. There are a few initiatives around the world that should also be honored for helping to change attitudes towards energy conservation.

What are the latest innovative products, services and ideas for a sustainable future? The Eco-Innovation Europe initiative has been establishing the latest technology for an environmentally aware future by helping businesses and industry see the benefits of these products. The initiative helps the EU strengthen its goals for a more resource efficient future, and it also provides ways for businesses to better use their resources. In addition, the initiative focuses on the development of new products, services, techniques and programs specifically for reducing CO2 emissions and promoting waste reduction. The initiative has five main purposes however, which are: materials recycling and recycling processes, sustainable building products, food and drinks, water efficiency and treatment, and green business.

It’s clear that the major cause of pollution is the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which contributes to greenhouse gases. Automobiles, trucks, airplanes and many other vehicles are a main problem for the environment. As a result, the ESRI is partnering up with NAVTEQ and the City of San Francisco to take part in the Clinton Global Initiative. With this, they are changing the way that buses operate, using more efficient maps and route planning, as well as helping to fix road closures, construction and lessen traffic incidents.

You often see hotels displaying that they are “eco-friendly,” but to many, that simply means that they use recycled products. While this is a great step, there are certainly other things that hotels can change to be more eco-friendly. The Ritz-Carlton in North Carolina certainly thinks so. By installing low flow toilets and showerheads, they were able to better use resources and cut down on energy spending. The hotel also built an extensive rooftop garden that is home to a beehive with over 60,000 bees. This will help to pollinate the local area as well as provide fresh honey for the chef’s kitchen.

Recently, the Las Vegas Palazzo Hotel and Resort was named the “Most Eco-Friendly Hotel in America.” Many hotels can learn from how this one resort changed the way that it used energy and water. By installing self-sustaining water processes, reusing waste and using solar panels for heat, the hotel became a model of environmentally consciousness for other green Las Vegas hotels. That’s one of the reasons the hotel has grown in popularity over the past year. It is important that this trend continues and other business embrace green programs and practices.

Urban Farming Episode Recap

Last weekend Dale brought on guests Russ Henry and Jane Shey from Giving Tree Gardens and Home Grown Minnesota to discuss Urban Farming here in Minneapolis. In case you missed the show, you can listen to it here. Read on to get the highlights! When you eat local food you use a lot less oil than food that is shipped around the world. Better yet, food grown organically in your yard can truly be “fossil fuel free food.” But what about my precious green grass?! Grass has just a slightly better run-off rate than concrete – meaning, most water runs off the grass and into the sewer system rather than going back into the watershed. This is a HUGE problem! We are draining of watersheds faster than we are filling them, which will eventually lead to a shortage of water. By planting native grasses or gardens in your lawn instead of grass you can minimize water run-off. A brief urban farming history of Minneapolis: from 1963-2012 it was illegal to farm – aka sell produce from your garden – in Minneapolis. In 2012 those laws were overturned to not only allow but to encourage urban farms. This monumental change was not without resistance though. Some local city politicians (who did not win the support of their party in the following election cycle!) formed a coalition that insisted on market garden licenses for urban farming that would restrict the days that they could sell to just 15 pre-described days per year. Thankfully a little something called the Constitution of the State of Minnesota says in article 13 section 7 that there should be no limits or requirements on the sale of farm produce. Take that status-quo defenders! We are living at a time of revolution for the food system. By taking the matter into our own hands – and into our own gardens – we are changing the culture of food and the impact it has on Earth. Last year there were 106 community gardens in Minneapolis, making a total of 21.5 acres of food production in the city. Right now there are 1500 vacant lots in North Minneapolis, most of which used to have residential property that went into foreclosure. Think of the growing potential of all that land… When you garden you may find that you have a surplus during the harvest season – more than you can eat or store, or give away to friends and family. Our guests suggested a great alternative to letting it spoil: donate it to a food shelf! There are over 75 food shelves in Minneapolis, and all of them need fresh produce. An organization called Healthy Food Shelves is running a campaign to “Plant an Extra Row” so that you can easily donate during the growing season. It’s that simple! Learn more at http://www.healthyfoodshelves.org/ Here are some other great websites mentioned during the show: We Can Grow | They will come set-up a garden for you and teach you how to garden! http://wecangrowmn.blogspot.com/ Gardening Matters | Local Resource Hub, get hooked up with a gardening club and on-going classes  http://www.gardeningmatters.org/hubs Home Grown Minneapolis | Grow, process, distribute, eat and compost more healthy, sustainable, locally grown foods here in Minneapolis. http://www.minneapolismn.gov/sustainability/homegrown/ Minneapolis Dept. of Agriculture | Minnesota Grown, directory of all the farmers in the state. http://www3.mda.state.mn.us/mngrown/ Here is the list of Minneapolis Farmer’s Markets locations and schedules: