BEMIDJI – In addition to its main site, the Bemidji Community Food Shelf has about a half-dozen storage locations sprinkled throughout the area.
It simply has outgrown its current space.
Supporters now are planning to relocate the operation to a much-larger facility in the Industrial Park. The food shelf has a purchase agreement in place for the old ODC building, 1260 Industrial Park Drive SE.
“This is about six times bigger,” said Jack Judkins, the coordinator of the food shelf while outside of the new building Monday.
A $100,000 matching grant has been awarded to the food shelf from the George W. Nielsen Foundation to assist in the planned relocation.
“The new facility will provide the food shelf with the opportunity to become more efficient and take advantage of cost savings by purchasing and taking in larger quantities of food,” Judkins wrote in a news release.
The food shelf, which serves 2,500 people each month, now is located on Fourth Street Northwest across from Bemidji City Hall.
When asked if he thought moving out of downtown would be a negative, Judkins said a survey showed more than 90 percent of the food shelf’s clients do not have transportation issues.
Additionally, he said, the food shelf has contacted Paul Bunyan Transit about the planned moved.
“They’re willing to work with us,” he said.
Bill Beyer, the president of the food shelf board of directors, said the St. Cloud area food shelf, which handles 1 million pounds of food annually versus Bemidji’s 380,000, is located similarly in a light industrial area of the community.
It’s not unusual, Judkins noted.
In all, Judkins said supporters are...Continue Reading
This summer, Minneapolitans either will be more connected to the earth as gardening options expand or ready to declare war on our neighbors for early-morning noise and the plastic buildings they construct.
It’s all part of the new Urban Agriculture Policy Plan approved by the City council’s Zoning and Planning Committee.
Most of it passed the committee Thursday without much discussion. Under the policy, residents could keep bees, try aquaponics, keep the compost pit filled, establish an urban farm and build arbors and pergolas until they drop from exhaustion.
The idea is to increase access to locally grown food and get people “more connected and more aware of where their food comes from,” said Council Member Gary Schiff.
That is, if we are not throwing homegrown tomatoes at each other.
The ordinance establishes market gardens, where crops grown in a yard could be offered for sale. Gardeners would have to pay for a city license and adhere to strict rules about the farm stand from which they would sell their food.
Originally the plan was to let the market gardeners sell their produce 25 days a year at the rate of one day per week. The hours of sale would be limited from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.
One day a week, though, did not seem practical, given the abundance that can come from just a few tomato plants.
“If the tomatoes are in and your crop is good, you need to sell them,” said Council Member Meg Tuthill, adding that it made more sense to allow gardeners to group their sale days together, when the crops are ready to go, rather than limit sales to one day a week. But she does not like the idea of 25 sale days a year.
Tuthill had prepared an amendment limiting sales to two days a year, to match the limit on garage sales per year for a resident. She accepted a compromise of 15 sale days.
Consider the following three items:
Over the next few months, the National School Lunch Program plans to buy 7 million pounds of “lean finely textured beef,” slaughtered cow scraps “that have been pulverized, defatted, subjected to ammonia steam to kill pathogens and congealed into a filler for ground beef.” Popularly known as pink slime within school lunch circles, the meat paste costs .03 less per pound than ground beef.
More than half of Minneapolis schoolchildren live in “food deserts,” regions of the city where impoverished families get most of their food from the likes of Super America. Half of the kids who eat school lunch come from communities like these; they get some 40 percent of their calories at school.
One-third of American children are now obese or overweight. Unless something is done, this generation of children is the first that is likely, on average, to be less healthy and live shorter lives than their parents.
This last pair of facts is revealed early on in a new documentary, "Farm to School: Growing Our Future," by dietician Mary Story, the senior associate dean of academic and student affairs at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health.
A few scenes further in, Story describes serving dinner to a friend of her son’s. She set a baked potato on his plate. He recoiled. It’s what French fries come from, she explained. Those he knew about — he'd even had them at school.
The 30-minute program is envisioned as a call to action. It airs...Continue Reading
St. Paul, Minn. — Take a look outside, and you might think it's May. People are jogging around lakes. Kids are eating Dilly Bars outside Dairy Queens.
There has been some sunny economic news recently, as well. Nationally, retail sales posted their biggest gain in February since last September. That has some economists asking: Could the warm weather be good for the economy?
Temperatures could climb into the 60s in the north this weekend, perhaps even touching 70 degrees. And if we hit 70 degrees four more times this month in the Twin Cities, it will tie 1910 for the most 70-degree days ever recorded in March.
The economic effect of 70 degrees in March can be seen at the Freewheel Bike shop in Minneapolis. Mechanics work at a dizzying pace to tune up old bikes while a stream of customers check out the shiny new ones.
When the sun comes out, customers do too, said Stephen Cottrell, the store's sales manager.
"It's like a light switch. All of a sudden, we go from maybe a door count of 40 customers to 450 customers," Cottrell said.
That happened last Saturday, and it has been busy ever since. Cottrell credits a stronger economy for sure, but says the warm weather helps. He expects sales will be up 15 to 20 percent over last March, when bad weather hurt sales.
"This year, already, it's like, 'I'll take the new bottle cage, I'll take...Continue Reading
Growing up on her family’s farm in Uganda decades ago, Harriet Oyera couldn’t have dreamed she would one day grow squash and eggplant in a community garden she started on vacant ground in north Minneapolis.
Nor did immigrants Lee Fong Vang and his wife, Chee Xiong, imagine they would find garden space on Minneapolis public housing land to grow their own tomatoes and hot peppers for their favorite meals.
Yet gardening, it turns out, affords far more than fresh and good-for-you vegetables, especially when it comes to low-income, immigrant communities.
Gardens bridge cultural and language differences and foster a sense of community in a new country, proponents say. Sometimes they generate household income. Consequently, this spring there’s a scramble for more tillable land for community gardens.
Additionally, being able to sow and harvest evokes a comfortable sense of familiarity for many immigrant groups settling into the Twin Cities.
We are always gardening for food in Thailand and Laos,’’ says Vang, 63, who came to Minnesota seven years ago from Thailand. Over the phone I hear Vang speak loudly and enthusiastically in his native tongue while his son Porchoua Vang, a college student, listens, then translates his words for me.
And, yes, he admits, out there among the tomatoes, he got to know some of his neighbors in the garden, thanks to CAPI, one Minneapolis non-profit behind the green trend.
A green thumb, it turns out, is also a way of reducing isolation among older immigrants particularly, as by definition, a community garden is a group of people coming together on common land to grow plants.
The communal gardening effort is not only growing but also is supported by a variety of...Continue Reading