Wedge Co-op gives $100,000 in grants

Recipients include Lyndale’s Youth Farm and Market Project

The Wedge Co-op handed out grants totaling $100,000 to eight nonprofits at a ceremony on Jan. 18. The natural and organic food cooperative awarded the money to groups “focused on sustainable development through the environment, natural health, natural food or cooperatives,” according to a statement.

The 12,000-member Wedge Co-op, 2105 Lyndale Ave. S., gave a $20,000 WedgeShare grant to Wisconsin-based Cornucopia Institute for its “grassroots defense of organics.”

The co-op gave Sister’s Camelot of South Minneapolis a grant of $15,000 for its work “sharing free organic produce and whole foods in low-income neighborhoods.”

The JD Rivers’ Children’s Garden, run by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, received $15,000 for the “one-acre garden serving more than 300 children each growing season.” The garden is part of Theodore Wirth Park in North Minneapolis. “Kids plant beans, water artichokes, release ladybugs and taste purple carrots for the first time,” according to the Wedge statement.

Also receiving $15,000 was the Youth Farm and Market Project of the Lyndale neighborhood, as well as South Minneapolis’ Powderhorn and St. Paul’s West Side neighborhoods. The group was rewarded for efforts to “nurture relationships between urban youth and their families, communities and the earth around them by growing, cooking, eating and selling healthy food.”

Marcy Cordes, president of the Wedge Co-op’s board of directors, said the Southwest youth organization has “been one of our most popular groups, from our members’ perspective, in terms of providing WedgeShare grants to them for many years, I think because they have this focus on youth development – urban youth, specifically.

“Our belief is that it really opens up a lot of educational opportunities to a group of kids who might not necessarily have access to information about healthy food and where it comes from.”

The three $10,000 grant recipients include the Land Stewardship Project of White Bear Lake for fostering “an ethic of stewardship for farmland” and promoting “sustainable agriculture” and “sustainable communities,” according to the co-op’s statement. The White Earth Land Recovery Project (“restores and preserves traditional practices of sound land stewardship, language fluency, community development, and spiritual and cultural heritage”) and Women’s Cancer Resource Center, of South Minneapolis, for supporting “women as they take charge of their cancer experience.”

A $5,000 grant was awarded HOURCAR, a hybrid-car-sharing program operated by St. Paul’s Neighborhood Energy Consortium.

Cordes said that “the whole reason the WedgeShare grant was created is because the Wedge is a co-op, and one of the co-op’s founding principle is a concern for community.”

The Wedge Co-op’s member-owners voted on the 12 finalists for the 2005 WedgeShare grants from among 24 applicants at their annual meeting in October.

Said Cordes, “We’re really trying to reflect what the values are of the members.”

Last year, the co-op gave away $25,000 in WedgeShare grants.

“We decided we really wanted to use the fact that we’re very financially successful to give more back to the community,” she said. “The Wedge has been in a situation, in earlier stages in its lifespan, where people had to do fundraisers for us.”

To apply for a 2006 WedgeShare grant, use the Minnesota Common Grant Form available from the Minnesota Council on Foundations by calling 338-1989 or going to www.mcf.org. Inquiries about deadlines, requirements and restrictions should be directed by e-mail to wedge@wedge.coop.