Sustainable Food and Land
To learn about workshops and other opportunities, email Kit Canright.
We work to address the issue of climate change by:
sharing info on food preservation, gardening, and responsible buying
encouraging landscaping and gardening practices that nurture soil and pollinators
studying food issues and land stewardship
connecting people who want to can together, share tools, garden space,
cooking expertise, and the like
raising awareness of our daily choices; learning to make use of everything so as to live sustainably
We've offered free and low-cost workshops on a variety of food-related topics, led by local experts. For example:
Canning, picking, and fermenting. Whether we grow our own foods or buy at farmer's markets, the co-op, or the grocery store, learning to preserve for the winter helps us to eat local, sustainably grown food longer each year. Produce is cheaper in season (and in bulk). Canning and pickling together can reduce carbon use, shares the workload, builds community relations and is a lot of fun!
Growing microgreens indoors. We learned to grow fresh greens all winter long with nothing but a cupboard and a sunny windowsill.
Slide show: Cider-pressing festival, co-hosted with Hampden Park Co-op
Slide show: Learning with master canner Ed Lotterman
Lois shows how to identify quackgrass by its branching roots. Avoid it in your compost bin!
Composting. Agronomist Lois Braun showed us how composting and shared gardens can work for an entire apartment building. She also shared tip sheets on composting and the pros and cons of tilling. Download them here:
Diet for a changing planet
by Kit Canright
Buy less. Eat less meat. Use what you have. These three rules, if widely followed, could substantially reduce human-caused greenhouse gas emissions. Of the 100 solutions in Paul Hawken’s book Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, eliminating food waste and switching to a plant-rich diet rank third and fourth in carbon-cutting effectiveness. Better yet, they’re steps we can take personally.
Read the full article in the Park Bugle.
Kit coordinates our projects for sustainable food and land, like the canning workshop shown here. She's also a math teacher and choral singer.
The “Food-print” Pyramid
In a switch from the USDA food pyramid, this one shows the ecological impact of our food choices. Foods lower on this pyramid have a smaller "carbon food-print." They represent less fossil fuel burned in growing and distribution, less water used, and generally more sustainable agricultural practices (that is, the earth is better able to regenerate resources and absorb emissions). Use this guide to consider carbon when choosing what to eat.
References and links
cited in Kit's article
Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, edited by Paul Hawken (Penguin, 2017) and compiled from the work of 70 scientists and public-policy specialists from 22 countries.
The Double Pyramid comparing the USDA food pyramid with an ecological footprint food pyramid may be found at http://barillacfn.com/en/
Here’s how much giving up beef helps — or doesn’t help — the planet, by Tamar Haspel (Washington Post, 2017): 2056e768a7e5_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.1aa5fd1a262c
The Lancet Commission’s report on a “planetary health diet”:
Protect our pollinators: An action guide
Tips and photographs by Margot Monson
As we plan next year's gardens, let's act on behalf of the pollinating insects we all depend on. More than just honeybees and butterflies, pollinators include many types of beetles, flies, moths, ants, bees, and wasps. They're crucial to our ecosystems and our food supply, and they've been in decline lately. How can we help? Read Margot Monson's Pollinator Action Guide in Transition Times ASAP (and a later update). And use these tips, with links to downloadable guides:
To understand your ecosystem,
get to know your watershed
Resources from Ranae Hanson
The St. Anthony Park area of St. Paul straddles three local watersheds that feed into the Mississippi. Read Ranae's Park Bugle article "How Does Your Watershed Flow?" and explore the resources linked here.
Consider some history. Bridal Veil Falls once flowed free, as seen in this 1860 photo; today it enters the river through a pipe at the Franklin Avenue Bridge. Learn more about the Historic Waters of the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization.
Ask questions and take a stand when shopping for plants: show that buyers know about the dangers of pesticides.
Biologist E.O. Wilson called insects "the little things that run the world." We need them, and now they need us.
Margot Monson is an entomologist, beekeeper and photographer who advocates for sustainable land stewardship.
Compare that history to today. Check out the historic and present-day waterbodies of the Capitol Region Watershed District (interactive map).
Ranae Hanson's book Watershed: Attending to Body and Earth in Distress will be published in spring 2021 by University of Minnesota Press.
Transition your yard: There's life after lawn
by Kit Canright
Why move from mostly lawn to more diverse plantings?
Less lawn = less mowing = less pollution. Lawn mowing in the US produces 5 percent of the nation's air pollution, more in metropolitan areas, says the EPA.
More productive land: we can grow food instead of grass.
Water stewardship. In the US, 36 states predict a freshwater shortage within a decade. It is estimated that 30 to 60 percent of urban water is used on lawns.
How can we be better stewards of our land and water?
Minimize pollution by reducing or eliminating fertilizers, pesticides, and salt. Gravel works well on icy sidewalks and can be swept up and reused.
Landscape to reduce erosion and keep sediment pollution out of waterways.
If you mow, switch to an electric or reel lawn mower.
Capture stormwater in barrels, rain gardens, or bioswales: this also reduces water pollution from runoff. Permeable pavers let rainwater filter into the earth; they're also less toxic than blacktop.
When roofing, consider using wood or slate: they release fewer pollutants.
Use a rain gauge and water only when plants need it. Water in the morning to minimize evaporation and reduce plant diseases. Let grass turn brown in midsummer; it will green up in the fall.
Use native plantings with deep roots. They hold the soil better, need less water, and require less work!
Kit learned these tips at a Mississippi Watershed Management Organization workshop.
Pictured: A lawn-turned-vegetable-garden in St. Anthony Park
Resources for water stewardship
Conserve water with rain gardens
Ideas & how-to from Diane Galvin
A rain garden is a low-lying area designed for gradual drainage, boosting ecosystem resilience by stabilizing the water table. Every rain garden helps, even a small one in a backyard or on a boulevard. Learn some basics in this slide show, and read more ideas from Diane here.
Diane Galvin's sustainable garden and landscape company ECO-Logic is based in Lauderdale. For a consultation, email Diane.