Explore the local farms that supply area food cooperatives with sustainably grown meats, produce and other agricultural products on the fifth-annual Eat Local Farm Tour.
Twenty-one farms in Minnesota and Wisconsin open to the public for free tours July 18. The most distant farms are about an hour’s drive from the Twin Cities, but three Minneapolis urban farms on the tour are all within a short walk or bike ride of each other.
By one or two farms, this is the biggest Eat Local Farm Tour ever, said Kari Binning, the communications specialist at Mississippi Market Natural Foods Co-op, one of 11 cooperatives sponsoring the tour. It’s also the first to feature farms in western Wisconsin.
Binning said last year’s tour drew about 5,000 participants.
“It’s a great chance to get out and see where our local food is grown and meet the people who do it,” she said.
The tour’s three Minneapolis stops are Stone’s Throw Urban Farm, 2820 15th Ave. S.; Growing Lots Urban Farm, 1912 E. 22nd St.; and The Beez Kneez Honey House, 2204 Minnehaha Ave. S. In addition to tours of the Honey House, Beez Kneez is organizing group bicycle rides to some of their South Minneapolis teaching hives.
Those planning a trip outside of city limits will have the opportunity to visit farms whose names will already be familiar to many local shoppers, including Thousand Hills Cattle Company in Cannon Falls, Singing Hills Goat Dairy Farm in Nerstrand and Northfield’s Gardens of Eagan. All three of those farms are located south of the Twin Cities, and there are other clusters of farms on the tour that would make a convenient, multi-stop day trip.
“Most of (the farms) have some of their goods out, so it’s a good idea to bring a cooler to bring your stuff back,” Binning said. “It’s the freshest it’s going to be.”
She said many of the farms also host activities for visitors. The Women’s Environmental Institute in North Branch plans a children’s scavenger hunt, there will be wagon rides at Gardens of Eagan and visitors to Simple Harvest Farm Organics in Nerstrand can try their hand at an essential dairy farm chore.
“What I love about them is they put a goat out and everybody who wants to can have a chance to milk the goat,” Binning said.
Tour guidebooks with information on locations, hours and events are available in area co-ops, but the brochure can also be found online. The guidebook also includes restaurant recommendations for farm tourists planning to make a day of it.
Don’t get lost: Cell phone reception can be spotty in rural areas, so Binning recommends printing out directions in advance instead of relying on a smart phone.
Go to facebook.com/EatLocalFarmTour.coop for more information.
City Council raises Minneapolis recycling targets
A resolution passed June 19 by the City Council raises the bar for recycling and composting in Minneapolis.
The resolution calls for Minneapolis to recycle or compost at least 50 percent of all solid waste by 2020. The target increases to 80 percent by 2030.
The resolution also reaffirmed an existing city goal of zero growth in the total waste stream from 2010 levels.
The recycling and composting targets are slightly more aggressive than those set out in the Minneapolis Climate Action Plan. That document, adopted by the City Council in 2013, also called for zero growth in the waste stream, but it gave the city until 2025 to begin recycling half or more of the entire waste stream.
The resolution is in part a response to state and county recycling standards that are growing tougher. Last year, Gov. Mark Dayton signed into law new rules requiring metro-area counties to recycle or compost 75 percent of all solid waste by 2030.
An Open Streets loop in Northeast
The Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition is trying something different for its second car-free streets event of the season.
The route for Open Streets Northeast is a 4.1-mile circuit — the longest Open Streets Minneapolis event to date and the first loop. Past Open Streets routes have been more or less linear, with the exception of a zig here and a zag there.
“We thought Northeast was a good place to have the first loop because of the neighborhood character, ” Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Ethan Fawley said.
Instead of just opening Central Avenue to bicycles and pedestrians, this year’s Open Streets Northeast also dips down to the popular 13th & University area. The coalition is also attempting to get more of the Northeast arts community involved in this year’s event, Fawley added.
Open Streets Northeast runs noon–6 p.m. July 12. Go to openstreetsmpls.org.
The coalition estimates 14,000 people attended Open Streets Lyndale on June 7.
Rollout of organics recycling begins
Households included in phase one of the citywide organics recycling rollout can sign up by July 10 to receive an organics cart in August.
The two-part introduction of the citywide organics recycling program begins next month when the option is made available to about one-quarter of Minneapolis Solid Waste and Recycling customers. Other customers will be allowed to opt into the program next spring.
About 29,500 customers were registered for organics recycling by the end of June, the city reported. All customers will see a $48 annual increase in their solid waste fees to pay for the program, regardless of whether they opt for an organics cart.
The city estimates most families can recycle up to 10 pounds of organic material each week that would otherwise have gone in the trash. Some may opt for a smaller garbage cart, saving them $3 per month on solid waste fees.
Go to minneapolismn.gov/organics for more information on the program, including a map of the phase-one and phase-two rollout areas.