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Plan a fall farm adventure with your family

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture is encouraging families to take advantage of opportunities to visit one of Minnesota’s many farms. The popular Minnesota Grown Directory is a great resource to help families plan a farm visit. It highlights many family-friendly activities to keep children, and parents, entertained. “Visiting a farm in the fall is a great way to build memories and start family traditions,” said Minnesota Grown Spokeswoman Jessica Miles. “Minnesota farms are very diverse, which allows families to find the right fit: apple orchards, pumpkin patches, farm tours and farm animals. It’s the perfect time to get out and go local!”

The Minnesota Grown Directory lists 978 farms statewide offering fall activities:

• Take a farm tour. Continue Reading →

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Health food selections in school cafeterias on the rise

Law incentivizes schools for offering more fresh fruits and veggies

Americans have done a great job making sure that our kids have something to eat at school regardless of socioeconomic status, with the National School Lunch Program providing low-cost or free lunches to upwards of 31 million students at 92 percent of U.S. public and private schools. However, that doesn’t mean the food has been especially nutritious. Public health experts say it’s no wonder our kids are more obese than ever when we feed them trans fats, salts and sodas for lunch. Kids get half their daily calories at school, so what’s for lunch there has a big impact on health and lasting eating habits. A 2008 analysis of school lunches by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) concluded that American kids consume very few fruits and vegetables in their cafeterias, with potatoes accounting for a third of all vegetables consumed. Continue Reading →

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MDA launches campaign to “Protect Minnesota Pollinators”

Campaign includes guidelines for reducing negative impacts on pollinator populations
 
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) recently launched a new public awareness campaign to protect pollinating insects in yards and gardens, along roadsides and on farms.

Protect Minnesota Pollinators is designed to help the public understand the importance of insect pollinators, not only to our food chain, but also to a healthy environment overall. Pollinator populations, including bees, butterflies, flies, wasps, beetles, moths, etc., are threatened by significant stresses that include a loss of habitat for nesting and foraging, pesticide use, parasites and disease, and other factors. “Insect pollinators are in trouble and their populations are declining,” said Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson, who announced the campaign in the Agriculture/Horticulture Building on the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. “More than one-third of all plants or plant products that we consume are directly or indirectly dependent on insects for pollination, and a decline in pollinators negatively affects us all,” Frederickson said. The MDA has developed Best Management Practices (BMPs), which urge farmers, landowners and homeowners to “look at our landscapes differently” by reducing negative impacts of pesticides, improving existing landscapes and creating new habitat. Continue Reading →

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CenterPoint Energy leadership freshens fleet

Company increases investment in NGV’s for a cleaner future
 
According to NGVAmerica, a national organization dedicated to the development of a growing, profitable, and sustainable market for vehicles powered by natural gas, natural gas vehicles (NGVs) offset the use of approximately 400 million gallons of gasoline in the U.S. in 2013, as well as, substantially reducing carbon emissions. In order to increase these numbers, more large companies will need to consider conversion of their fleets. “We are seeing that the abundance of natural gas has created much more than the feeling of security for years to come, that our houses will remain warm and heated in the harsh Minnesota winters,” said Ana Hargrove, natural gas sales manager for CenterPoint Energy and NGVAmerica board member. “The abundance is actually creating more environmentally friendly and efficient ways to run company fleets, as well as supporting the American people by providing more job opportunities.”

Natural gas, a domestic, American source of energy, is more than a safe, environmentally friendly, affordable and efficient option for energy in your home. Today, due to improved technologies, natural gas production has increased drastically, making the possibilities for transportation use far beyond what they were in the past. Continue Reading →

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MDA offers free pesticide collections in east central and metro counties

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) will host a series of waste pesticide collections in seven east central and metro Minnesota counties from Tuesday, August 19, through Wednesday, September 10, 2014. Through these free collection events, Minnesota homeowners and farmers can safely dispose of unwanted and unusable pesticides. MDA has collected over 5.25 million pounds around the state since the program started in 1990. The program accepts unwanted, unusable agricultural and consumer-type pesticides including insecticides, fungicides, herbicides and rodenticides. However, crop oils, adjuvants, pesticide rinsate, fertilizer, treated seed, contaminated soil and empty pesticide containers will not be accepted. Continue Reading →

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Bike ride offers tour of Minnesota’s African American history

By Anthony Taylor

Contributing Writer

 

Saturday, August 23, presents a great opportunity to have an historical experience relative to the African American communities’ presence in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Major Taylor Bicycling Club is offering its Second Annual Dark 2 Dawn: A Ride Through African American History. The ride will begin at 9 pm on Saturday, August 23 at Martin Luther King Park and end with a celebratory breakfast at MLK Park. Throughout the night there will be stops at notable locations connected to the Black experience in the Twin Cities. Each location will feature a presenter that has a personal connection to that place, creating the human and historical connection. Continue Reading →

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Keith gets grilled by Hurricane Mari

Keith was in the backyard with Leslie getting acquainted with her father when they heard, “God damn it!” come from the kitchen. “Son of a —!” Lesli went in to see what was wrong. Hank said to Keith, conspiratorially, “Vocabulary like that, you’d never know she’s an English professor, would y’?”

“No comment.”

“Smart man.”

“What do you do, sir?”

“Okay, I can tell you’re doing your best to be polite and put a good foot forward. That’s also smart. But, no ‘Mr.’ and no ‘sir’ please.”

“Just Hank.”

“Now, y’ got it.” He walked up on the patio, waving Keith along. “Come on, treat yourself to a taste. Time you get done meetin’ my wife, you’ll need it.”

He crossed to the rolling bar, took two glasses, put them on the umbrellaed table along with an ice bucket. Reached for a bottle of Dewars. “Pick your poison. See anything you like?”

“Yes s—.” He caught himself. “Uh, yeah. Some of that jug of Jack Daniel’s’ll do just fine.” A jug it was. Bigger than the others by far, a half-gallon of Tennessee sippin’ whiskey. Otherwise known as bourbon. Hank seemed to make a mental note. Dropping rocks in their glasses, pouring, he picked back up, “Me, I quit teachin’ college. At the same place. That’s where we met — hear tell you and my little girl met under some interestin’ circumstance.”

Keith kind of squirmed. With another warm, easy smile, Hank continued: “Stony Brook University. Not that I didn’t like it — did you know Louis Peterson once taught there?”

“Uh…no.”

“Wrote Take A Giant Step. Damned good play. First Black dramatist on Broadway.” He interrupted himself to hand Keith his drink and hoist his own glass. “To yours and Lesli’s happiness.”

“Thank you, sir.” And caught himself again. Hank winked. They sipped. “Anyway. I used to teach directing. To students who, most of them, figured they already knew all there was to learn. Between you and me, all but the best of ’em, I wondered how they managed to walk from one end of a stage to the other without falling off.”

Keith laughed. “After enough of that,” Hank continued, “I chaired the department a few years, then said, ’Nah.’ Had written a book that did well enough. Continue Reading →

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Backyard composting — an easy way to turn food waste into a natural resource

We hear about composting a lot but often it seems like a complex task only for experienced gardeners. What really is composting and how can it be more accessible? Michael Chaney, founder of Project Sweetie Pie, can often be found on the organization’s urban farms throughout North Minneapolis among the youth engaging in community agriculture. Chaney, who understands the role of composting within urban farming, says Project Sweetie Pie is exploring and learning more about increasing composting within their urban farms. Composting can close the gardening loop by creating usable, nutrient-rich soil to grow food. Once you get started, composting is easy, economical and great for the environment! Continue Reading →

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Reducing volatile organic compounds: good for business and the environment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Two Minneapolis businesses are already benefitting from the change
 
 

By Isaac Peterson

Contributing Writer

 
Conclusion of a  three-part story
 

 

Last week MSR readers learned of a new grant program that Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is offering to help businesses with the cost of complying with new regulations to reduce volatile organic compounds (VOCs). This week readers are introduced to two business who have already benefitted from the program. MPCA and the Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (or MnTAP, a program at the University of Minnesota) have teamed up to offer small businesses with matching grant funds of up to $100,000.  

 

How can cutting down on VOC’s help your business and the environment? Let’s look at the experience of two Minneapolis small business owners and see how reducing VOC’s helped them. Continue Reading →

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Removing toxic chemicals from the environment requires new emission limits

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
The costs for small businesses to comply could be ‘enormous’
 
By Isaac Peterson

Contributing Writer

 

Many people are talking lately about the numerous disparities in Minnesota between the White population and communities of color. People of color lose in every category. One little-noted area of disparity is environmental; people of color are exposed to more environmental pollution than their White counterparts. (The MSR has recently published the findings of scientific studies identifying these environmental disparities: “Race matters most in determining who breathes bad air,” May 8,  and “People of color most vulnerable to toxic chemical disasters,” May 15) . But while some are talking about the problem, others are doing something about it. Continue Reading →

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