Converting cars and consumers to greener gas mileage

In the eyes of Shayna Berkowitz, the makings of the sustainable transportation revolution are here already, and she is ready to help it along with a new business opening in South Minneapolis. ReGo Electric Conversions offers Prius owners the ability to increase their gas mileage to 60-85 miles per gallon by converting to a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) and adding a rechargeable four kilowatt hour Lithium-ion battery to supplement the existing hybrid system. 

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Audubon finds recipe for success in Minneapolis Mini Farmers’ Market

Location, location, location. That oft-quoted mantra of real estate comes immediately to mind in a church parking lot in northeast Minneapolis on a Thursday afternoon. Vendors set up tables lined with piles of kale, beets, broccoli, raspberries, rhubarb, and other fresh produce. Customers start trickling through even before the market’s official start time of four o’clock.  In the heart of the Audubon neighborhood, at 27th Avenue and Johnson Street NE, blocks from the larger weekend markets in Columbia Heights and on University Avenue, the Audubon mini farmers’ market has found its perfect location and that has made all the difference. “From talking to other managers, it seems we might have the most traffic of all the mini-markets,” Audubon market manager Sarah Olson told me. Continue Reading

Local foods heavy-hitters come together on St. Paul commission

Fourteen leaders on local food issues will be working together on a new joint Saint Paul-Ramsey County commission on food and nutrition. The commission is tasked with creating an action plan for a sustainable system that increases production, distribution and consumption of healthy, local food. Helene Murray, director of the University of Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA) and one of seven appointees from the City of St. Paul, says she is “really excited” to be participating in the commission. More than anything, Murray seems excited about the opportunity for new collaborations. Continue Reading

Fruits of the City grows its model for fresh food access in Twin Cities

At most food shelves, canned and boxed food is king. Though this is the case mostly for practical reasons, more and more research points to a simple truth: fresh fruit and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet and people of lower income, especially in urban neighborhoods, aren’t getting access to them. 
While resources like community gardens cover more ground around the cities, The Minnesota Project, a non-profit with program work in local food and sustainable agriculture, has set its sights slightly higher to find a solution, onto the branches of local fruit trees. Modeled on similar efforts in Seattle, San Francisco and Vancouver, the Fruits of the City program began last year with around 100 homeowners across the metro area donating the surplus of their fruit trees. Armed with more than 200 volunteers to glean the trees, the program gathered and donated over 15,000 pounds of fruit to local food shelves. Now in its second year, Fruits of the City is ready to build on its successes. Continue Reading

Minnesota Idea Open tackles weighty problem

With more than 25 years of philanthropy under its belt, the Minnesota Community Foundation (MCF) is used to hearing good ideas. With the launch of the Minnesota Idea Open, however, they’re hoping they’ll hear them from people who haven’t been part of the conversation before. 
The Idea Open is an online challenge directed at all Minnesotans to innovate solutions to obesity in the state by answering the question “How could your community use $15,000 to eat smart and be active?” Idea Open’s website is designed by Ashoka’s Changemakers, a company that has previously designed online grant competitions for philanthropic heavyweights such as the Gates Foundation. It combines the idea submission process with commenting tools, discussion forums and eventually public voting on the top three ideas as determined by a panel of judges. Jennifer Ford Reedy, VP of Strategy at MCF, hopes that through the Minnesota Idea Open, MCF and its partners are creating a discussion on issues affecting the state with a tool that is “so fun Minnesotans want to care about it.” Continue Reading