Monday, November 22, 2010

The activities of HMEG

I am proud to be a part of the energized neighbors of the Hamline Midway neighborhood who "show-up". Here is a list of the outcomes achieved by Hamline Midway Environment Group (HMEG) folks over the past year. It was a busy, a fast paced year that was done in a flash. As fall came, we added up the HMEG activities and were wowed. This group is all volunteer, without regular organizational support. We are opportunistic and unwilling to pass up on doable actions. HMEG folks, you are a remarkable people!



2010 HMEG accomplishments

Community Gardens and Greening

  • A new community orchard was installed at Midway Greenspirit Garden. The grant application, orchard design, tool acquisition, tree ordering, installation and maintenance were completed by a wide cast of volunteers. The Orchard is sponsored by the St. Paul Garden Club who granted the money to Gardening Matters for this purpose.

  • Midway community garden sites coordinated efforts to get plant donations this year through the MN State Horticultural Society's MN Green donations. Selecting, driving, and planning happened across all gardens by volunteers.

  • A new garden leader for the Hamline-Thomas garden emerged, which continues an interesting cooperative model of rotating community garden leaders.

  • HMEG was supportive of a gateway planting installed along Snelling and Taylor Avenues. Connecting neighbors to people and resources to help breakthrough bureaucracy.

  • The Snelling Avenue planter project had a successful year due to new volunteer support and better business coordination through a switch to weekday morning events.

  • Horton Park community gardeners hosted a Girl Scout troop this season. The girls trimmed, weeded, planted all while learning a bit about native plants.

  • The Midway Greenspirit Garden hosted the 1st Annual Midway Plant Swap in October.

  • HMEG members participated in the Twin Cities wide effort to explore the creation of Local Foods Resource Hubs.


Community Events

  • HMEG members exhibited at the "Festival of Trees" event at Newell Park in May. Our table had information about the ash tree survey, Emerald Ash Borer, and more. Neighbor volunteers also helped with a bare-root tree planting of 30 trees in and near the park with the 4H kids.

  • HMEG also exhibited at Newell Park for a second back-to-back weekend in May. The Midway Folks Festival brought many neighbors by the HMEG tent to see tree/EAB information and pick-up a free organic "lawn care" sign for their yards (which were donated by the SE Como neighborhood).

  • Six Midway community gardens came together to put on the Bugs n' Bike Parade of Community Garden tour in August. Each site had bug themed activities and information.

  • HMEG hosted a 350.org bike event at the library this fall in conjunction with the 10-10-10 Global Workparty. The event included a bike drive and winter biking workshop.


Trees

  • The Tree Team acquired a $3,500 grant from Council Member Russ Stark and the COPP fund. This money was sought and used for tree distribution and information in the Midway.

  • HMEG solicited and received youth book donations about trees from Coughlan Companies. These books were donated to the St. Paul Public Library, with a set staying at the Hamline Midway branch.

  • The HMEG Tree team, supported by Metro State intern Tanner, executed a volunteer-driven residential ash tree survey determining the number of ash trees exist on private property trees. In the Midway, we have 10% ash trees on private property, which is lower than the public tree rate of 17%. This citizen science initiative is getting attention locally and nationally.

  • Tree Team held two fundraisers at Borders and 10,000 Villages to raise additional funds for the tree projects.

  • The Tree Team crew distributed over 60 FREE trees to Midway neighbors in the Fall and each recipient got mulch and tree care manual too.

Waste Reduction

  • HMEG sponsored a stint of recycling yogurt cups at Shirtz Unlimited. When Whole Foods added #5 recycling, the program transitioned to their collection.

  • HMEG published a bulletin about leaf recycling Also, volunteers worked with Hamline Hardware to offer fencing lengths that can be used to save leaves for composting/mulching.

  • HMEG continues to explore community compost & recycling maps and blogs hoping to create a waste reduction resource for our local needs.


And More...

  • A new HMEG logo was created printed on banners that were designed to be used with new event tablecloth created from reused, hand-dyed materials.

  • A leap forward in web presence with a new HMEG.org domain (which directs to the new HMEG Blog), a Facebook page, an updated HMC web page with fresh garden & HMEG content. The HMEG Blog came on the scene with many contributors writing about trees, energy conservation, waste reduction, community gardens and neighborhood events.

  • A relationship with Experiential College EXCO and the Hamline Midway Library Association was forged with the hope that classes on sustainable living are offered.

  • Promotion of a series Home Energy Workshops by Metro CERTS for the Hamline Midway neighborhood, that included Home Energy Squad visits to outfit homes with bulbs, weather stripping, thermostats, and more.

  • HMEG members were interviewed for film documentary called the 350 Solutions Revolution.


Support given to these projects came from Hamline Midway Coalition, Extension Service Master Gardeners & Tree Care Advisors, Home Energy Squad, Hamline University, EXCO, Sibley Bike Depot, Metro CERTS, St. Paul Forestry, Frogtown Gardeners, Metro State, Girl Scouts, Gardening Mattes, CM Russ Stark, St. Paul Garden Club, Hamline Hardware, Egg|Plant Urban Farm Supply, Coughlan Companies, Borders, 10,000 Villages, MN350.org, Sibley Bike Depot, Bike/Walk Ambassadors, 350 Solutions Revolution, SECIA, Hamline Midway Library Association

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

No Tomato Tastin' at this year's Como Cookout

I am sorry to report that the 2010 Tomato Tastin' Experience scheduled for Sept., 19th at the Como Cookout is canceled. The outlook for tomato availability is poor. Chalk it up to a wet season that lead to lots of disease, and not enough consistently high temperatures to ripen fruit. We have reports of vines producing a few here and there, but the rest remain green, or the plants have succumbed to blight. The homegrown tomato dearth is an unexpected outcome with all the excitement in April of Minnesota's early spring warm-up. To see the past 6 years of results of the Tomato Tastin' Experience, sponsored by the OWLS Community Garden, check out this past post.

Those folks who planted some early producing, and determinate tomato varieties have had better luck at getting a bumper crop. Growing a diversity of crops and varieties wins out again! If you would like to augment your own crop, look-up a nearby farmer's market.

If you want to learn more about tomato diseases, look over this U of MN Extension bulletins:

Tomato Diseases

view
Early Blight of Tomatoes and Potatoes
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Late Blight of Potato and Tomato
view
Nonparasitic Disorders of Tomatoes
view
Parasitic Diseases of Tomato
view
Tomato Anthracnose
view
Septoria Leaf Spot of Tomato
view
Verticillium Wilt of Tomato and Potato

Extension also has been supporting seed trials grown and reported by Master Gardeners. Tomatoes get a lot of attention during the seed trials and below summarizes their results which are published every year in The Northern Gardener magazine. Tomatoes of various kinds were tested against each other since 1988. Past winners are:

  • 1988 (determinate early): Celebrity VFNT hybrid
  • 1989 (determinate midseason): Mountain Pride VF hybrid
  • 1990 (cherry): Sweet Million FNTL hybrid
  • 1991 (paste): Square Paste
  • 1993 (yellow, orange, gold): Lemon Boy hybrid
  • 1994 (Beefsteak): Supersteak hybrid
  • 1995 (main season hybrid large red determinate): Celebrity Hybrid
  • 1998 (container types): Cherry Gold
  • 2000 ((indeterminate red hybrid main season): (tie) Park's Whopper and Big Boy
  • 2003 (heirloom varieties): Brandywine
  • 2005 (grape types): (tie) Juliet and Yellow Jelly Bean
  • 2007 (heirlooms): Pineapple
  • 2008 (slicing types - past winners): Lemon Boy
  • 2010 (paste): not yet evaluated

Several varieties selected as best by Master Gardeners have also been favorites at the Tomato Tastin' Experience (bolded above), a useful correlation for tomato fiends.

image credit: University of Minnesota

Monday, August 9, 2010

Hamline Midway Bugs n' Bikes Community Garden Tour

Spend the day biking between Hamline Midway gardens, participating in activities, eating wonderful food, and having a great time at the:

Hamline Midway Bugs n' Bikes Community Garden Tour Saturday, August 21st, 10 am – 2 pm

Part of the Gardening Matters “Parade of Community Gardens”


Here is the list of the SIX community gardens participating in Hamline Midway neighborhood and the exciting activities and events each site is planning. This day will celebrate these sites and the people who volunteer to make them happen. Lots of fun to be had right in the Midway!

Pump up those bike tires and chart your course:


41. Snelling Planters
755 Snelling Ave N

::Bug hat activity
::Composting information/demonstrations
::Sidewalk sale & free popcorn at Hamline Hardware

at Mosaic on a Stick
595 Snelling Avenue N

::Free community mosaic on a stick project 12-2pm

42. SPROUT Garden
1514 W Englewood Ave

::Bike check-ups, tune-ups, and education with Terri from Now Bikes and Fitness
::Bike Activity with Scott and Carrie from the Hamline Church
::Crafting project for kids!

43. Maxine Smith Rain Garden
Hamline Church-W Minnehaha Ave & N Simpson St.

::Rain garden information
::Capitol Region Watershed District staff present to answer questions on managing rain water runoff
::Face painting and cargo bike demonstration.

44. Midway GreenSpirit
W Pierce Butler Route & Hamline Ave N

::Check out the new orchard!
::Eat honey sweetened treats
::Ask Master Gardeners and beekeepers everything you ever wanted to know
::Beehive Demo at 1 pm; kids activities

45. Horton Park Gardens
W Minnehaha Ave & Hamline Ave N

::View beautiful native plant gardens
::Get questions about tree growing & emerald ash borer answered by experts
::Learn about the neighborhood tree inventory and how to get a free or low cost tree for your yard
::Refreshments and activities

46. Hamline Thomas Garden
Hamline Ave N & W Thomas Ave

::Information on monarch butterflies
::Learn the history of the garden – from decay to beauty!
::Come at 1:00 for a 15 minute lively and informative stuffed animal show by playwright, ::performer, and teacher Leslye Orr of Dreamland Arts.


Note: the numbers on the map correspond to the numbers above, which correspond to the listings posted at www.gardeningmatters.org, which will correspond to the bright orange directional signs you will see on the Parade day. A poster/flier for the Bugs n' Bike Tour for printing can be found here.

This map can also be accessed online at Google Maps

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Entertainment, refreshments and photosynthesis all being arranged for the Parade of Community Gardens

This summer, I am assisting seven St. Paul and Minneapolis bring in neighbors, energy, entertainment, refreshments and photosynthesis together to celebrate and show-off as part of the Parade of Community Gardens. Why go to all this effort? Community gardeners are hard-working folks and by all means they need a day to reflect on their accomplishments and while we are at it, why not invite the neighborhood! The Parade is an awareness raising event, both for the state of Minnesota, and along the streets of each participating garden. Below is the media release from the event's organizer, Gardening Matters where the important role of community gardens in our neighborhoods is highlighted. See you on August 21st!



Gardening Matters Announces the 5th Annual Parade of Community Gardens
On August 21st, sixty-six community gardens in the Twin Cities Metro Area and Greater Minnesota will be on parade! Gardening Matters is proud to organize the 5th Annual Parade of Community Gardens, a state-wide garden “open house” intended for the public to get to know these important community spaces. Participating community gardens invite visitors to take a self-guided tour through their gardens, where they will be hosting celebrations as diverse and vibrant as the gardens themselves. Parade activities in 2010 include food samples, cooking demos, bike repair and composting workshops, youth-led yoga, art, and much more! Download a Parade Brochure for a complete listing of gardens and activities.
This year’s Parade is bigger and better than ever! The Parade is going virtual with all sixty-six gardens mapped on Gardening Matters’ Online Parade Directory, and gardeners will be Tweeting live from the gardens on Parade by tagging #GardenParade. Gardening Matters is also proud to partner with Bike Walk Twin Cities to create several biking and walking routes to gardens. In addition, BWTC is sponsoring a photo contest for pictures of biking or walking to gardens! The Parade of Community Gardens is sponsored by Seward Co-op in Minneapolis and Valley Natural Foods in Burnsville, who will be distributing coupons and prizes at participating community gardens in their areas. Info about these promotions is available at www.gardeningmatters.org
Interest in community gardening has soared nation-wide in 2010 in light of recent environmental, economic, and health concerns. Gardening offers individuals the opportunity to improve personal and community health and their local environment, as well as decrease household food budgets. The health impacts of community gardens are particularly important, as childhood and adult obesity are at pandemic proportions: a recent report released by Blue Cross Blue Shield and the Minnesota Department of Health revealed that 60% of adult Minnesotans are overweight or obese, and 75% do not eat the recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables. Community gardens provide a social atmosphere and hands-on opportunity for people of all backgrounds, abilities and experiences to get exercise and access to fresh produce for themselves and their households. In addition, community gardens provide a supportive environment that encourages healthy behavior change.
Community gardening has also become increasingly popular in Minnesota in recent years. Gardening Matters received over 350 requests for community garden space in 2010. The demand for gardening space far outpaces the space available, in spite of the fact that many new community gardens are started every year. In fact, the number of community gardens in Minnesota has increased by at least 50% in recent years, from 200 to over 300. In 2010, both Minneapolis and St. Paul made public land available for community gardening, illustrating the importance of/demand for community gardens to both citizens and municipalities.
Minnesota and the Twin Cities have a rich history of community gardening, with more people participating in gardens over the long-term than most regions nationally. Gardening is not a hobby. It, along with our food traditions, is an important part of our cultural heritage and should be celebrated. The community aspect of community gardening also helps people connect and preserve these important traditions, as well as providing an opportunity for long-time gardeners to teach and share with gardeners who are just getting started.
Join Gardening Matters and the sixty six community gardens on parade in celebrating these valuable neighborhood assets! Gardens on the Parade come in all shapes in sizes, and are located in urban, suburban, and rural areas. Community gardens truly offer something for everyone, and bring many benefits to their neighbors and neighborhoods – take advantage of these neighborhood spaces by celebrating in a community garden near you!
Gardening Matters is a non-profit organization dedicated to successful, sustainable community gardening and the enhancement of neighborhood-based urban agriculture. Gardening Matters programming supports community garden sustainability and places community gardens at the core of a support system for increased home-based food production and neighborhood beautification. In the last five years, Gardening Matters has helped over 2000 people start or join a community garden. Read more about the multiple benefits of community gardening and get a snapshot of community gardening in Minnesota.
Parade of Community Gardens
Date/time: Saturday, August 21st from 10:00am – 2:00pm. Rain or shine.
Location: Community gardens throughout the Twin Cities Metro Area, Dakota County, Chaska, Rogers, and Mankato! Download the brochure for a map and listing of participating gardens.

Six Hamline-Midway Community Gardens participating in the 5th Annual Parade of Community Gardens!

Bike, walk, run, skate, drive if need be to explore and celebrate a variety of green spaces and the bugs that help them grow on the Hamline-Midway Bugs n’ Bikes Community Garden Tour! Saturday, August 21 10am-2pm, six Hamline-Midway community gardens will offer fun, educational, and creative activities and treats for all ages as part of the 5th annual Parade of Community Gardens. Stop by any location to start your tour and pick up a map and schedule of events. Locations include:
  • Hamline-Thomas Community Garden at Hamline and Thomas Avenues
  • Hamline United Methodist Church at 1514 Englewood Ave
  • SPROUTS Community Gardens at 1514 Englewood Ave
  • Horton Park at Minnehaha and Hamline Avenues
  • Midway GreenSpirit Community Garden off of Pierce Butler between Hamline Avenue and Albert Street
  • Snelling Avenue Planters at Hamline Hardware at 755 Snelling Ave N

For further information or to get involved with these Midway garden sites and their events, please email junelune1@gmail.com.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Recycle your garden pots through October 1st

You have got your seedlings transplanted (mostly) and now have a pile of greenhouse plastic. It's a good idea to reuse pots, trays, or baskets whenever possible to save money and reduce waste. However, the volume of pots can add up and these plastics can not be set out for curbside recycling pickup. You do have an easy recycling option set-up by the Minnesota Nursery & Landscape Association and Choice Plastics. Select garden centers will accept plastic pots, trays, and hanging baskets for recycling from April 15th through October 1st. Just bring clean, plastic garden pots to the registered drop sites listed on the MNLA website. (Please note that some sites will take pots only on June 19-20 and September 18-19.)

Guidelines:
• Do not bring household plastic or clay pots.
• Dump all soil and remove metal hangers.
• Your garden center will only take plastic for a limited time. Ask a staff person for more details.

The nearby locations to SE Como, Minneapolis & the Midway, St. Paul appear to be Linder's Garden Center - 270 W Larpenteur Ave, Roseville, MN 55113 & Mother Earth Gardens - 3738 42nd Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55406.

Monday, May 31, 2010

The importance of native pollinators


The Midway community gardens are hatching a plan for the August event called the Parade of Community gardens on 8/21/2010. Its too soon to let you know about all the fun details, but it will involve six Midway community garden sites, and will give visitors a peek at pollinators. Even in our urban area, pollinators are vital. In this photo, my Leadplant is being visited by bees. at the Midway Greenspirit garden, the beehive there are increasing yields of tomatoes, peppers, blueberries, strawberries, , raspberries, apples, melons, sunflowers, pumpkins, plums, and squash both in the garden and for miles around. Native pollinators can be even more efficient at the job, such as bumblebees increasing yields even more. The Xerces Society is an organization looking into the importance of invertebrates. Below is some quality information from Xerces on how to encourage native pollinators which were developed for roadsides. While a small residential urban yard may need to be selective from this list of practices, most are applicable for our cities too. I see it in my own yard and in my community gardens regularly. Xerces research show that using native plants in a landscape can double the number of bee counts and increase the types of bees found there by 35%. So you want to get the most out of your food production gardens? Plant for the bees too!


From Xerces:

Eighty-seven of the world’s 124 most commonly cultivated crops are insect/animal pollinated. Between 60 to 80% of the world’s 250,000 flowering plants depend on animals for pollination.
In the United States, the National Research Council (2007) reported noteworthy losses of both managed and wild pollinators. Habitat loss, pesticide use, diseases, parasites, and the spread of invasive species are the major causes of pollinator decline. Threats to pollinator communities affect not only pollinators themselves but also natural ecosystems and agricultural productivity.


Key design factors & practices to enhance flower diversity for bee habitat around farms, gardens or roadsides include:

Planting choices
1) Use native wildflowers and grasses, with high densities of flowers.
2) Plant a minimum of 3 blooming plant species during each season.
3) Aim for season-long blooming plants, early and late season blooming plants are especially important.
4) Plant a range of wildflowers of varying colors and shapes. Bees mainly visit blue, white, yellow, and purple flowers.
5) Plant flowers in single species clumps for best results.

Providing Nest Sites
6) Warm season, clump-forming grasses provide bumble bee nest sites.
7) Have a mix of forbs and shrubs.
8) Don’t mow or hay entire grassy meadows or roadsides, leave some for pollinators.
9) Conserve habitat for rabbit burrows and groundhog burrows for bee nesting sites.
10) Reduce tillage and avoid plastic sheeting for ground nesting bees.

Reducing the Impact of Mowing and Spraying
11) Intensive mowing or grazing impacts abundance of bees.
12) Avoid or minimize the use of insecticides.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Seeking Midway "citizen scientists" to help count ash trees during the 2010 summer

The 2010 Hamline Midway Tree Planting and Ash Tree Inventory Program

This summer, the Hamline Midway Environmental Group Tree Team will be counting the number of residential ash trees to guide our 2010 tree planting program that will occur this fall. Volunteer surveyors are being solicited! Are you a person who may walk frequently in the neighborhood? Or, one who would like to engage their kids in a local eco-opportunity after school is out? Or are you a person who is interested in our urban forest/habitat? Or, would you like an “excuse” to go beyond your immediate block and explore a different part of the neighborhood? Then this could be a volunteer experience for you; neighbors become citizen scientists! Volunteer surveyors will be taught how to confidently identify ash trees and record their observations on a simple recording form. Residents of the Hamline Midway neighborhood, of all ages and experiences, are encouraged to participate! You can do this at your own pace and on your own schedule as long as we get the data by August 1.

We will be hosting two upcoming training sessions at the Hamline Midway Coalition Building (Snelling and LaFond) for volunteers (of all ages) on:

  • Tuesday June 1 – 6:30-8:30 and
  • Saturday June 5 – 9:00-11:00

With the center of the Emerald ash borer (EAB) infestation so close to the Midway neighborhood, now is the time to consider the impact of losing our ash trees and do something about it! The information we collect will help target future tree plantings in our neighborhood.

Residents who are interested in volunteering with other neighbors for the ash tree inventory are encouraged to contact the Tree Team at treeteam@hmeg.org or call Tanner at (651) 917-1248.

Look for more info on this project and tree care at the HMEG table at the Hamline Midway Spring Festival on May 23rd from 12:00-5:00 in Newell Park!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Earth Day 2010! Garden with the Greeks in SE Como's community gardens


Not only will there be the MIMO Earth Jam Ride happening in SE Como, but 90 volunteers from the fraternities and sororities within the University of Minnesota Greek system are decending on SE Como Community gardens for a neighborhood-wide community gardening opening day. All of our sites will benefit tremendously from the efforts of these volunteers. By the time the MIMO Ride gets underway, all participating community gardens will officially begun the 2010 community gardening season. Thanks goes out to the fraternities and sororities participants.

Other volunteers are certainly welcome to join in. Welcome Spring!



Earth Day Garden Volunteer Events

    • Accord at 15th & como ave SE
      • from 1-3pm
      • Move big rock, Garden Clean-up, light raking , garbage pick-up,cutting down old stems
    • Gateway Garden at 12th Ave SE & E Henn.
      • 3pm-5pm
      • move wood chips, light gardening
    • Talmage Crossing at 21st Ave SE and Talmage Ave SE
      • 2:30-4:30
      • Move wood chip, digging weeds
    • OWLS garden Clean-up, meet at 895 Weeks Ave SE (6 vols)
      • 3-5pm
      • pull up old plants, garden clean-up, seeding and watering
    • Como Corner garden clean-up 22nd & Como Ave SE
      • from 2-4pm
      • trim dead stems, pull-up dead leaves, organize compost piles & etc

Pagoda Dogwood planted at Library last fall by HMEG


I went to check on the pagoda dogwood at the Library today and was surprised to find that not only had it leafed out, but the baby tree had friends! The tree was planted during the fall 2009 Hamline Midway Library celebration event. HMEG was there with information about trees and emerald ash borer (EAB). We also brought along a tree and with fellow neighbors' help, planted in front of the library where the ground's crew had approved. I am not sure who planted the tulips, but the act of volunteers planting a tree proved to be contagious.

Pagoda dogwood is a native Minnesota tree that is smaller in stature and is often found in understory situations. It has a horizontal branching that give it a Japanese feel. This particular pagoda came from the Como Corner Community Garden in SE Minneapolis where the pagodas there often produce seedlings.

Watch the HMEG Blog for more opportunities to plant trees over the next season.

SECIA Student Group Earth Day Plans- Come join the ride!


The SECIA U of MN Student Group has received a grant to do Earth Day celebrations during the month of April. Come and join the Ride (Facebook event) or check out these other April 22nd happenings.


MIMO at U Spring Jam on Campus


Stop by and visit the SECIA Student Group on the University's Coffman Plaza during Spring Jam! The group will have information about SECIA's the Move-In, Move-Out (MIMO) initiative, other green activities, and give-aways. Also, registration for the MIMO bike ride will be located here. (12PM-4PM)


Gardening and More at SECIA

From 12PM-5PM, visitors to the SECIA office can learn about gardening information, solar ovens, green cleaners and more. Further, we will have hands on demonstration on how you can make your own GrowBox for your deck or patio (2PM-4PM). The MIMO bike ride can be joined from here at about 4:45pm.



Group Bike Ride & MIMO Kick-off

Bring your bike and participate in a group ride that leaves SECIA at 4:45 PM and arrives at the U of M ReUse Center at 883 29th Ave SE around 5PM. The route follows 15th Ave SE and Como Ave SE and can be picked up along the way. The U of MN ReUse Center has generously agreed to host our MIMO Free Store in May/June. Come along to see where it's located and be treated to FREE non-alcoholic Como MIMOsas and other snacks! You can pre-register (not required) with alison@comogreenvillage.info or at the MIMO booth earlier that day at the University's Coffman Plaza.


These events sponsored MPCA, University of MN Student Activities Grants Initiatives, Neighborhood Revitalization Program

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ramsey County Master Gardeners supporting Midway and Frogtown neighborhoods

This is a moment to shout out to Ramsey County Master Gardeners (RCMG) in the Midway. So many Midway and Frogtown garden projects are nicely highlighted in the RCMG year end report from 2009. I particularly want to shine a light on Diane's work. She is successfully working hard within this organization to bring in intern Master Gardeners from diverse backgrounds. She also takes her Master Gardening service time to our urban neighborhoods, augmenting community efforts in growing their own food. She would want you to check out another organization she works for called "Growing Food and Justice for All".

Here is that Master Gardener 2009 report (pdf). In it you will find summaries of Hamline Midway and Frogtown community garden projects including Aurora-St. Anthony Peace Garden, Horton Park Community Garden, Snelling Avenue Planter Project, Frogtown Gardeners, Frogtown Orchard Project. Also supported and not mentioned are projects at Galtier Elementary, Hamline High Rise, LEAP Academy, HUMC Rain Gardens, and Midway Green Spirit Garden.

Master Gardeners are a well used resource in our St. Paul neighborhoods. Many thanks to their members!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Library series on food and food systems: Authors and films

Another free, food-focused event series, and another chance to screen Food Inc.! Free documentary film screenings have been all the rage this late winter/early spring as community groups are engaging folks in food system topics. If you have already seen Food Inc., Fresh and other similar food documentaries, the included author events could give a deeper dive. The Midway-centric events are added to the HMEG calendar, but all of these dates are interesting to me. The "Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day" has worked well for me, and the books will go onto my to read list.

The following information is from The Friends of the St. Paul Public Library.

Eating, Reading and Living Well

Food Will Win the War: Minnesota Crops, Cooks, and Conservation during World War I

Monday, April 26, 7 pm
Merriam Park Branch Library, 1831 Marshall Ave.

Author and food historian Rae Katherine Eighmey will present her latest work, revealing the efforts made by "Citizen Soldiers" who observed Meatless Mondays and Wheatless Wednesdays to conserve food for the boys "over there."

Food Will Win the War

Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Tuesday, May 6, 6:30 pm
West 7th Branch Library (in Community Center), 265 Oneida St.

In the second book by Dr. Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois, they have taken their super-fast method of bread making and adapted it for the health-conscious baker. Featuring a dozen recipes with 100% whole grain, pita, pizza, and 10 gluten-free specialties. If you've wanted to produce the best yourself, this is your starting point.

"Food, Inc." - a film by Robert Kenner

Monday, May 10, 7 pm
Rondo Outreach Branch Library, 461 N. Dale St.

Featuring interviews with experts such as Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma; In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto), along with forward-thinking social entrepreneurs, this film reveals surprising and often shocking truths about what we eat and how it is produced.

Food, Inc.

Healthy Breadmaking Demonstrations

North for the Harvest

Monday, May 17, 7 pm
Mississippi Market, 1500 W. 7th St.

Zoe Francois, co-author of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day and Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, will lead a walk through the market to look at grains and ingredients, demonstrate five minutes of prep, and sample some recipes for you.

The Conscious Kitchen by Alexandra Zissu

Monday, May 24, 7 pm
Highland Park Branch Library, Hillcrest Recreation Center Auditorium, 1974 Ford Parkway

If you have wondered how to manage what is good for personal health, good for the planet, and still tastes great, this discussion will help you to easily make decisions you will feel good about - both physically and consciously.

The Conscious Kitchen

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The Eating, Reading, and Living Well series is presented by The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library and sponsored by Mississippi Market. Two Saint Paul Locations: 622 Selby Avenue & 1500 W. 7th Street.

Mississippi Market

Monday, April 12, 2010

Permaculture Research Institute offering classes nearby the Midway


"Permaculture Research Institute-Cold Climate" is certainly a mouthful, but they are in important volunteer supported organization here in the Twin Cities who teach sustainable small scale food production. Their instructors are well practiced and have a lot to share. I am profiling their current offerings here for a couple of reasons.

First off, they have a class series running in Frogtown starting this week, which is much closer for Midwayites than their usual venues. Secondly, this series is being taught by fellow HMEGer, Courtney Tchida! Courtney promised us last year she would get a St. Paul class series going and happily that has worked.

Note, PRI classes are not free. There may be some scholarship arrangements for some of their classes. However, these classes are an investment and will arm you with enough information to gain a return on your investment.

Below is the information recently sent by PRI to their email subscribers:

April 13, 20, 27 6-8:30 PM and
May 4,11 6-8:30 PM
Learn small-scale techniques for growing food in urban areas, for your own family’s use or for urban markets. In response to widespread demand, we are repeating this updated Urban Farming series taught by Courtney Tchida.

… choose any or all! $15 per class ($20 at the door) or all 5 for $60. (Click a course topic above for more details and registration.)

__________

May 1 9 AM - 4 PM
In one day, learn all you need to successfully grow food in our cold temperate climate, with special focus on urban gardens and African crop varieties. $60
more details

April 16 7-9 PM
Lecture by entomologist Neil Cunningham gives an overview of biological strategies for insect management in edible landscapes. $15

April 17 9AM - 3PM
Neil Cunningham and Dan Halsey lead a day of combined classroom and hands-on experience. Learn more about options for organic and biological pest controls and how they work. Design and install habitat for beneficial insects. $35

Receive a $5 discount when you register for both the lecture and the workshop!
more details

__________

May 15 1-5 PM
Join others in the Twin Cities area as we continue to shape the permaculture collaborative's role within PRI Cold Climate and bring small groups together around specific permaculture projects. Free and open to all.
more details

See all Upcoming Events on the front page left column of the PRI Cold Climate website.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Pine needles as hen bedding for damp days

Last season I discovered the utility of pine needles (sometimes called pine straw). As you may have noticed, annually in late summer, pine trees shed their oldest needles. Sometimes this is in mass. Just in routine clean-up, I tossed them into the chicken run for bedding. It turned out to be a wet week, but the cool thing was that those needles did not get soggy. Usually I use leaves as bedding. As I described before, I save autumn leaves for my year-round hen bedding. Free and sustainable. The leaves do need attention whenever it rains, which is my cue to rake out the run and compost the works.

The discovery of the needles were a significant help though this spring during the ice thaw. My least favorite time for run maintenance for me is when the snow is melting but the ground is still frozen. Puddling, build-up of frozen bedding plus hen activity is messy. This year, I implemented the pine needles during thaw. What a difference! The thick layer of needles kept the hens up an off any icy mucky puddles underneath. Since pine needles take longer to compost, I elected to bring the pine straw to the yard waste site when the wet period was over.

I now keep an eye out for local pine trees. When the next drop happens, I will be knocking on doors and asking if they would mind if I rake up their needles for them.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The wide range of chicken droppings

I sure wrestled with which picture to post for this entry. I decided to spare the non-chicken keepers the visual of chicken droppings. However, for a very complete and graphic picto-log of the extremes of poo see this page from the UK called Poultry Pages Forum. The range of characteristics that chicken poo that appears from healthy hens is disparate and extreme. This is due to the fact that chicken have two forms of droppings and diet also greatly affects appearance.

Despite this, is still a good idea to pay attention to changes in droppings. They are an early indicator of bird health. For a list of droppings of concern, this forum page has a long list of descriptors and possible causes.




Monday, April 5, 2010

The compost hunt is on

The compost hunt is on. The county sites are stocked, but will go quick. Community gardens are jostling for a complimentary delivery. Residents all over are looking at their woeful soils thinking, "I need some compost". Yes you do!

This is a perfect segue to highlight the compost bin sale that is happening now. Its also a great opportunity to reveal that the Hamline Midway Environment Group is hot on composting too, so much so they are working on a compost Google map much like the original community compost map of Philadelphia.

In this vein, I want to share a post written by Kirsten Saylor of Gardening Matters. It appears they have noticed the compost cries too.

"It's the time of year (spring), when folks start asking us about how to get some compost for their garden. This question comes up every year on the listserve. I recommend people checking out the COMGAR archives (search on keyword "compost") for additional advice and insight, but basically here's my quick recommendation...

If you're a community garden in Minneapolis or Ramsey County, there's instructions for compost on www.gardeningmatters.org. If you're a community garden not within Minneapolis and Ramsey County, then contact your city or county to see if they have any resources or policies about providing free or deeply discounted compost to community gardens.

If you're private/home garden, then here are some options for you...
1) ask neighbors if they have more compost than they can use. You may be surprised.
2) www.yardstogardens.org just advertised that they are trying to help people with surplus compost connect with those that need it.
3) make your own -- worms or a bin out back -- and I don't mean to be flippant, gardeners need to be on the vanguard of keeping valuable nutrients in their "ecosystem" and not letting any of that good compostable stuff get away and stuck in a landfill or burned for energy. If not gardeners, then who will?"

Happy Planting! Kirsten

Occurring now are two notable trends nationwide - 1) a rabid and valuable desire to grow-your-own food which requires good soil, and 2) a needy trash system which is overburdened with food waste. Compost intersects both of of these trends, each satisfying the other.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Early Community Gardening in SE Como

The activity in the SE Como neighborhood community gardens is revving up. At the Talmage Crossing Community Garden, gardeners report, "Just in time for the holiday weekend: the first tulip and first several daffodils have joined Lila's scillas and other bulbs, blooming on the boulevard. The median is starting to show buds so the bulbs there will be doing lovely things soon." Jake, SECIA's community garden intern, has sowed peas, lettuce and spinach in the demo GrowBoxes that the office is trialing. OWLS gardeners have picked out new seeds at the Community Garden Resource Fair offered by the MN Green program (of the Minnesota State Horticultural Society). Como Corner has just brokered a lease with BNSF, a new era for that location. And finally, despite spending the winter under sewer construction machinery, the Gateway Garden's plants are emerging!

How to catch-up with these growing folks? The SECIA Calendar lists all the pertinent community garden dates. Most SE Como gardens are kicking in on Earth Day April 22, 2010. Other news is that both the the Accord Native Plant Community garden and the OWLS Community Garden have both started Facebook pages.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Rain barrel and compost bin sale on now through the Recycling Association of Minnesota

Rain barrels and/or compost bins are available for Twin Cities residents to purchase from the Recycling Association of Minnesota. For those folks living in the Hamline Midway, you can also take the additional CRWD discount found here (pdf).
Order by 4/22/2010 to pick up at the Living Green Expo at the Minnesota State Fair Grandstand North Parking Lot
May 1, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. or May 2, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Accepting orders until April 22, 2010.

Compost Bin Available $55

The Earth Machine


Dimensions: 33" x 33"
Capacity: 10 cubic feet


Rain Barrel Styles Available:
Both styles $65





The Rain Catcher




Dimensions: 24" W x 34" H
Capacity: 54 gallons







The Systern


Dimensions: 34" H, 26.1" in diameter
Capacity: 55 gallons


Payment by credit card only. Prices listed above do not include sales tax.

Rebates offered for residents residing in: -Capitol Region Watershed District -Ramsey-Washington Watershed District To find out more, CLICK HERE (pdf).
DIRECTIONS FOR ORDERING: -ST. PAUL (Living Green Expo): May 1-2 (pdf)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Low cost trees are being made available in the metro

There are a number of tree sales running at present that provide really low cost trees for residents. For folks residing in Minneapolis or Saint Paul, your tree planting this season can offset future losses due to the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB). This is especially true for folks closest to the start of the infestation in the St. Anthony Park neighborhood in St. Paul. Here are the details for 2 offerings. Do not delay, these sales do sell out of species.

A low cost tree sale available to St. Paul residents, deadline for order 4/17
This sale is the The Friends of the Parks and Trails Tree sale where low cost trees are available to metro residents, but I am highlighting it for St. Paul-ites as they can't take part in the City Trees program (Minneapolis only).

Buy a Tree Sale 2010. Order trees until Saturday April 17. Pick up trees 9AM-1PM Saturday May 1. To order trees: print the Tree Sale Form (PDF) and mail it with a check. Your phone and email are needed if you forget to pickup your trees.

  • Autumn Blaze Maple
  • Bicolor White Oak *
  • Black Hills Spruce
  • Pagoda Dogwood *
  • Thornless Cockspur Hawthorn
  • Mount Royal Plum
  • Honeycrisp Apple
  • Arrowwood Viburnum *
  • Little Lamb Hydrangea
  • Blue Velvet Hypericum
  • Miss Canada Lilac
  • Hope For Humanity Rose
  • Wisteria Aunt Dee

* Native

Online Donation of Trees to Parks Credit card only, your donation is tax deductible because we are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
Give trees to City or County Parks of your choice from our list.
Donated trees will be picked up and planted by the park system you choose.

Pickup Sites:

Highland Park Pavilion, 1200 Montreal Ave., St. Paul
Ramsey County Parks Garage, 2015 No. Van Dyke, Maplewood

For more information contact PeggyLynch@visi.com (Peggy Lynch) Telephone: 651-698-4543

Mailing address:
The Friends of the Parks and Trails of St. Paul and Ramsey County
1621 Beechwood Avenue
Saint Paul, MN 55116

Minneapolis residents can order an inexpensive tree to enjoy for their yards

More than 1,000 trees are being made available to Minneapolis residents for planting this spring. Since 2006, the City of Minneapolis has funded the City
Trees program, a low-cost way for folks to help build the city’s tree canopy. The trees cost $25 each, residents can order one tree per household, and all
trees are available first-come, first-served. Last month, the emerald ash borer was found in Minneapolis and could potentially contribute to the decline of all
of the City’s more than 200,000 ash trees. Planting a new tree now will help start the next generation of trees.

Varieties of trees available are

  • Fat Albert spruce,
  • pagoda dogwood,
  • Kentucky coffee tree,
  • blue beech,
  • Merrill magnolia,
  • regal prince oak,
  • Canada select chokecherry,
  • Redmond linden and
  • burgundy belle maple

Orders for trees can be placed at www.treetrust.org. You can also order a tree by calling (651) 644-5800. In previous years, the trees have sold quickly, so place your order early.

Folks who order trees will need to pick them up on one of three days at the Minneapolis Impound Lot, 51 Colfax Ave. N.

Saturday, May 8, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Sunday, May 9, 8 a.m. to noon
Monday, May 10, 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Volunteers will be on hand to help load your new tree and complimentary bag of mulch into your vehicle.

Research has proven that trees are a valuable investment and improve urban quality of life. Healthy trees are beautiful, increase property values, help improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gases by absorbing carbon dioxide, save energy, keep the city cooler, provide homes for wildlife and help manage stormwater.

The City Trees program is a partnership between the City of Minneapolis and Tree Trust, a local nonprofit that works to improve the community environment.

Steph Hankerson
http://midpointgreen.blogspot.com/

Friends of Horton Park gearing up to get back into the native plants

Friends of Horton Park are excited to get back into the garden in 2010 season! The group is participating in the St. Paul Park Annual Spring Clean-up on Sat. April 10th. Please join us at 9:00 am at Horton for spring greetings, light raking of the gardens, trimming of old stems and trash pick-up. We may get some sightings of our first spring flowers? Bring a buddy and any raking supplies if you have them (otherwise provided).

Be a native plant enthusiast while enjoying the greater Horton Park with fellow Hamline Midway neighbors. Gardening sessions are typically monthly on Sunday's at noon until 2pm. Garden website is http://groups.google.com/group/hortonpark. FFI, or to get on this community garden's list contact hortonpark@gmail.com.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Community Garden Spring Resource Fair on Sat., March 27

This year's line-up is shaping up to be one of the most exciting Resource Fairs to date. Ashley Atkinson from Greening of Detroit is coming! She is a very respected community organizer, with expertise in community gardening and urban agriculture. Ashley will share her story and experiences in the keynote speech kicking off the Fair, and then presenting at two workshops later in the day.

Ashley is part of a collaborative that has created an inspiring real-life example of how to enhance neighborhood-based food production and make our communities more resilient and our community gardens more sustainable. Detroit's Cluster Networks have inspired Twin Cities community gardeners to think about a metro area where there is strong support for gardening at the neighborhood level-

* where community gardens are at the core of this community-based food system...
* where flower gardens are crucial to the livability of our communities and food production system -- we're all in it together!
* where neighbors are creating an infrastructure and network so that everyone interested in participating in a community food system can do so...
* where there is ongoing support and learning to improve how we garden for the yummiest yields while improving the health of environment at the same time.

But that's not all -- strong workshops, diverse exhibitors -- learn about what's happening in Minneapolis and St. Paul are enhancing local foods, hear what Extension is up to and pick up a Urban Soils Guide.

You can download and print the flyer at www.gardeningmatters.org//Events/2010Fair/SRF2010.pdf


The Sixth Annual Community Garden Spring Resource Fair
Saturday March 27th, 2010
9:00 am – 4:00 pm
Sabathani Community Center, 310 East 38th St, Minneapolis
Free Parking $5 Suggested Donation at Door

Keynote Ashley Atkinson, Director of Project Development and Urban Agriculture, The Greening of Detroit: How Detroit Works Together to Strengthen Neighborhood-Based Food Production. Twelve workshops, activities for the kids, and engaging educational displays throughout the day! Details and directions at http://comgar.blogspot.com/p/community-garden-spring-resource-fair.html or call Gardening Matters at 612-492-8964.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Emerald Ash Borer confirmed to have moved into southeast Minneapolis

Below is the press release on Thursday's find of the Emerald Ash Borer in Prospect Park, Minneapolis. It was a find that folks were expecting, but dreaded to hear. One-fifth of the boulevard trees in Minneapolis are Ash. The continuing infestation of EAB only highlights the efforts by the Hamline Midway Environment Group (HMEG) to fundraise around community tree planting projects.

If you live in a 5 mile radius from St. Anthony Park (Saint Paul) or Prospect Park (Minneapolis) please plant a tree this season!

Here are some of the local press available on this announcement:
___________________________________________________


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Minnesota Department of Agriculture confirms emerald ash borer infestation in Minneapolis trees


The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) today confirmed an emerald ash borer infestation in four trees in the Prospect Park East River Road neighborhood of Minneapolis within Tower Hill Park. This infestation is within a mile of the St. Paul neighborhood in which the tree pest was found last year. The infestation was discovered through an ongoing survey of ash trees in the vicinity of the South St. Anthony Park neighborhood, where EAB was found in May 2009. While this marks the first time emerald ash borer has been found in Minnesota outside Ramsey County, state officials said the discovery was anticipated. Last fall, scientists determined that the St. Paul infestation had been in place for about three years prior to detection. Since the
adult beetles can fly up to 2 miles each year, officials expected that the bug had spread into Minneapolis. “When we found the St. Paul infestation last May so close to the border of the two cities, we knew there was a good chance we’d find it in Minneapolis,” said MDA Plant Protection Director Geir Friisoe. “That’s why we included Hennepin County in the initial EAB quarantine, even though it had only been confirmed in Ramsey County.”

The EAB quarantine in place for Ramsey and Hennepin Counties prohibits moving from the counties any items that may be infested with EAB, including ash trees and ash tree limbs, as well as all hardwood firewood. This quarantine remains in effect in 2010. The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board’s Forestry Division is responsible for planting and maintenance of public trees on Minneapolis city streets and parkland. The Park Board’s forestry division has been working with MDA to prepare for the arrival of EAB. Next steps will include removal of infested trees and an intensified survey of all ash trees in the surrounding area.

EAB is an invasive beetle that kills ash trees. Its larvae kill ash trees by tunneling into the wood and feeding on the tree’s nutrients. Since its accidental introduction into North America, EAB has killed millions of ash trees in 13 states. The metallic-green adult beetles are a half inch long, and are active from May to September. Signs of infestation include one-eighth inch, D-shaped exit holes in ash tree bark and serpentine tunnels under the bark. Officials remind Minnesotans they can take the following steps to keep EAB from spreading:

• Don’t transport firewood. Buy firewood locally from an approved vendor, and burn it where you buy it;
• Be aware of the quarantine restrictions. If you live in a quarantined county, be aware of the special restrictions on movement of products such as ash trees, ash limbs, and firewood. Details on the quarantines can be found online at http://www.mda.state.mn.us/plants/pestmanagement/eab/quarantinefaq.aspx; and

• Watch for signs of infestation in your ash trees. If you suspect your ash tree could be infested by EAB, visit www.mda.state.mn.us and use the “Do I Have Emerald Ash Borer?” checklist.
MPRB Emerald Ash Borer Preparedness Plan

CONTACT:
Michael Schommer Communications Director , Minnesota Department of Agriculture 651-201-6629
Janell Wojtowicz Communication Specialist Minneapolis Park and Recreation, Board 612-230-6414

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Metro Blooms to Host Twenty $10 Raingarden Workshops in 2010

Once again in 2010, Metro Blooms will offer low-cost raingarden workshops in the Twin Cities Metro Area and in Southern Minnesota. 4400 people have attended these workshops since 2005. Learn more at metroblooms.org.

Participants will learn the steps involved in designing and installing a raingarden. Hands-on assistance is available at some workshops, and workshop participants are eligible to receive low-cost on-site consultations from Metro Blooms Landscape Design Assistants.

Workshops will be offered in six different locations in Minneapolis as well as in Bloomington, Blue Earth, Champlin, Chanhassen, Chaska, Crystal, Fairmont, Plymouth, Robbinsdale, Saint Louis Park, Savage, Shorewood and Wayzata. SECIA' s own storm water program have brought such workshops nearby the neighborhood. This year SE Como neighbors will need to travel a bit more to get to workshop, however closer locations include Bedlam Theater, Audubon Park, and Longfellow Rec Center.

Details and registration at metroblooms.org or 651-699-2426.

Monday, February 22, 2010

What to do about my Ash Tree?


U of Mn Extension compiled a resourceful list of FAQ's, links and resources on the topic of Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) for the Ramsey County Master Gardeners. I am sharing an edited version of it here because of its completeness. The Hamline Midway Environment Group made a key addition though- Don't forget to plant trees!

You cannot move untreated firewood out of the quarantined counties of Houston, Hennepin and Ramsey:

Think you have a tree with EAB?
  • Read the “Do I Have EAB” sheet.
  • Call the MDA’s “Arrest the Pest Hotline” 651-201-6884(Metro) or 1-888-545-6884 (Greater MN).
Should I treat for EAB? You should treat for EAB ONLY if:
  • The environmental, economic, and time costs of treating is less than the cost of replacing the tree
  • You are willing to treat your ash tree every 1-3 years for the tree’s ENTIRE LIFE
  • Your ash is less than 10-15 miles from a known EAB infestation.
  • Your ash is a beautiful specimen worth saving.
  • You properly apply, store, & dispose of any leftover chemicals.
What Can I Do to Help?
  • The Hamline Midway Environment Group says "Plant a tree!"
  • Do Not Move Firewood, not even within MN. Respect the quarantine.
  • Prune trees & shrubs at the right time (to avoid the sap attracting EAB).
  • Be aware of EAB and its symptoms.
  • Understand that you CANNOT IDENTIFY EAB by looking at a tree, as an Ash tree can look bad for other reasons.
Where do I get rid of Ash wood?EAB websites
Want Even More EAB details?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

CSA farms are starting to organize now for their 2010 membership

Want to go local in your own food supply? Minnesota CSA farms are starting to organize now for their 2010 membership. This Minnesota Department of Agriculture website has an interactive website to help locate potential farms: http://www3.mda.state.mn.us/mngrown/searchresults.aspx?location=&products=3 . A further excellent resource for finding a farm is the published online list from Land Stewardship Project : http://www.landstewardshipproject.org/csa.html .

CSA's or Community Supported Agriculture farms grow and harvest for their members, who get a "share" of the farms production. Different farms have different arrangements regarding drop-off locations, the number of weeks, pricing, farm involvement such as potlucks, and what food products they will include. Some feature meat shares, cheese shares, and fruit shares in addition to the standard vegetable offerings.

By signing up with a farm, you are ensuring the freshest produce for your household while reducing the food miles of your household's diet. Plus, your dollars support a Minnesota farmer!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Got Ice? Get Grit!

The winter of 2009-2010 has been treacherous in terms of sidewalk ice in Minnesota. December rain initiated the slickest sidewalks in memory which was followed by periods of melt...snow...melt plus more icing. For a household trying to be earth sensitive, the options for deicing and sanding do not meet the grade.

To some degree, all deicing salts have impacts to pets, plants, concrete and even more alarming, on watersheds. Salinity of urban waterways are of increasing concern, so much so that the City of Saint Paul has just decided that deicing salts will no longer be used on city side streets (intersections and grades excepted). The commonly used sand isn't without issues either. Sand has small enough particles that it washes from our driveways, streets and sidewalks directly into rivers via city storm sewers.

How to avoid these eco-pitfalls? Timely shoveling is really the ounce of prevention. Try to be aware of what precipitation is coming your way and make the effort to move it off and treat right away. Also, make sure you have access to a good chopper. Ice choppers are a necessary tool in the battle of slick sidewalks.

Still slick? Try CHICKEN GRIT for good traction (pictured above)! Grit is generally too heavy to wash into storm water systems. Further, the little bits of angular granite that chickens use to break down food in their crops are great for biting into icy surfaces. Finally, once the snow and ice are gone, you can sweep up your grit and save it for the next season. Chicken grit can be found at farm stores.

As a last resort, reach for the deicing chemicals, only after implementing timely shoveling, ice chopping and grit. But, know your salt because not all deicing salts are equally damaging and different salts work at different temperatures. For example, in extreme cold, calcium chloride is the only product that will work and using any other product is not effective. However, under most circumstances, grit and elbow grease will suffice.

Midwayites! Get Thee to a Home Energy Workshop!

*Save Energy and Money at Home!*

This February, residents of Hamline-Midway have a unique opportunity to
participate in a home energy efficiency program that can save hundreds of dollars per home. The program, Neighborhood Energy Service, starts with a
free *neighborhood workshop on saving energy and money* in your home. Workshops for Hamline-Midway are scheduled for:

  • Feb. 11th (6:30pm at the Hamline United Methodist Church—1610 West Hubbard Ave) and
  • Feb. 13th (10am at the Hancock Rec. Center—1514 Englewood Ave)

At the workshop you’ll be able to schedule a home visit, where the Home Energy Squad will *visit your house and install energy-saving materials*. Materials include compact florescent lights, a programmable thermostat, door weather stripping, and a low flow shower head.

Finally, you’ll receive one year of personalized home energy reports. These custom reports compare your home’s energy use with the average Minnesota home of the same size.

This program provides *goods and services worth up to $400, and enrollment only costs $30 per home*. This incredible deal is made possible by the generous support of the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund.

To participate, RSVP for one of the free neighborhood workshops by contacting Michael Jon at 651-646-1986 or email michaeljon@hamlinemidway.org.

The program is provided by a partnership of neighborhood organizations, including the Neighborhood Energy Connection, the Metro Clean Energy Resource Team, and the Hamline-Midway Coalition. Other partners include the Center for Energy and the Environment and Xcel Energy.