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Add a Minnesota-grown Christmas tree to your shopping list

Minnesota Christmas tree growers look forward to another great season of local, fragrant Christmas trees thanks to overall good growing conditions this year. Many tree farms are stacked with a variety of trees and were ready to open the day after Thanksgiving. Happy Land Tree Farms Owner, Ken Olson shared “Thanks to all the rain we had on our farm, our trees are in really great condition. We had a great growing season and our new plantings did well.”

The eight-to-12-year growth of Christmas trees poses a unique marketing challenge, “Christmas tree growers look far ahead to estimate customer preferences,” said Minnesota Grown Spokesman Paul Hugunin. “Farmers provide continuous care and attention to each tree as it matures.” Trees are formed and sheared over time to help create the iconic Christmas tree shape shoppers desire. Continue Reading →

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Yes, you can save money, energy even during Old Man Winter

CenterPoint Energy’s rebate team members share their best checklist for the holidays

CenterPoint Energy’s rebate team members, (l-r) Chekelea, Ruth, Kelly and Fianna, shares a clip-and-save low-cost/no-cost checklist to help readers save energy and money on home heating bills this holiday season. It seems as if Old Man Winter is back and hit us earlier and with a colder start than last winter. “November 2014 went on the books as the ninth-coldest November recorded,” said Tom Hultquist, National Weather Service Science & Operations Officer. “Now that it is December, our customers will be impacted by higher winter heating bills due to colder temperatures and wind chills causing us to turn the heat up,” said Kelly Chase, supervisor for energy saving equipment rebates for CenterPoint Energy. “I gathered my rebate team to prepare a checklist to share with our customers this cold holiday season. Continue Reading →

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Act now to solve ice dams, prevent costly home repairs

Homeowners can act now to help prevent ice dams and costly water damage to ceilings and walls. Ice dams can happen when there is warm air in the attic, snow on the roof, and the right weather conditions. When heat leaks into the attic, it melts the underside of the snow on the roof. The melted snow flows down the roof until it reaches a cold spot (such as the eaves) where it forms a frozen dam. The ice buildup can back up under the shingles, damaging the roof and allowing water to leak to the ceilings and walls below. Continue Reading →

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’Tis the season to go green

Tips for reducing waste, saving money during the holiday season
The holidays are coming up and we all know they can put a dent in your wallet, but have you ever thought that celebrating the holidays can take a toll on the environment? It’s true. From disposable kitchenware to unrecyclable wrapping paper to overheating your home the holidays create a lot waste. In fact, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, the average household in Minnesota increases waste by more than 25 percent. Here are Hennepin County’s top energy and money savers tips to help you go green this holiday season. Continue Reading →

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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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