Wedge honors community groups with WedgeShare grants

The Wedge Co-op has awarded $50,000 in grants to 13 local nonprofits doing work to promote sustainable development in their communities.

The recipients of the WedgeShare grant, called WedgeShare, were recognized March 3 at a special event at the Wedge Co-op, 2105 Lyndale Ave. S.

"The Wedge has been so successful for a long time. We’re able to give organizations grants that are small but still big enough to be meaningful," said Elizabeth Archerd, member services manager at the Wedge. "We focus on sustainability issues, health, hunger, farming issues, and in general things that effect our ability to give really good quality food."

The grant winners include:

• The Emergency Foodshelf Network, a New Hope-based nonprofit food bank that collects and distributes food to hunger relief groups throughout the state;  

• The Cornucopia Institute, a Wisconsin-based organization that supports sustainable and organic agriculture;

• The Youth Farm and Market Project, a neighborhood-based development program that teaches youth about gardening, entrepreneurship, cooking and nutrition;

• The Farmer’s Action Legal Group, a St. Paul-based nonprofit law center that assists family farmers;

• The Women’s Environmental Institute at Amador Hill, a nonprofit in North Branch dedicated to environmental research and providing opportunities for women to learn and share information about environmental issues;

• The Urban Arts Academy, a South Minneapolis-based organization that provides youth with arts, music and tutoring programs;

• Gardening Matters, a Minneapolis group that promotes community gardens;

• The Local Fair Trade Network, a Southwest-based group works with local organic food producers, sellers and consumers;

• The Community Design Center of Minnesota, a St. Paul-based group that helps low-to moderate-income neighborhoods with sustainable design solutions;

• Southside Family Charter School, an award-winning K-8 school in South Minneapolis;

• Windustry, a Southwest-based group that promotes renewable energy solutions for communities;

• The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, a Southwest-based organization that is devoted to promoting fair and sustainable farm and trade systems; and

• The Universal Health Care Action Network of Minnesota, a Southwest-based grassroots group promoting changes to the health care system in the state and throughout the country.

Grant recipients said they were thrilled, especially given the dramatic downturn in the economy.

Jessica Rochester, development assistant for the Emergency Foodshelf Network, said this is the first year the group has received a grant. "We appreciate the community support because we are experiencing great increases in the need for our services," she said.

Ted Evans, the communications coordinator for the network, said the organization plans to support Harvest for the Hungry — a program that partners Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms with families facing hunger. Locally grown produce is grown on the farms and donated to Minnesotans in need.

The Cornucopia Institute plans to keep the spirit of organic farming alive with their share of the grant. According to the report at www.wedge.coop, the institute spotlights factory farms using questionable production shortcuts that threaten organic farmers. They are also challenging soy imports from Brazilian rainforests processed with toxic hexane and the legality of USDA’s almond chemical pasteurization mandate.

"The Wedge Co-op has been one of our largest funders during the five years we’ve been around," Mark Kastel, co-director of the Cornucopia Institute, said. "The reason we approached the Wedge is tactical. We want to build a bridge between the farm community and the consumers."

Kastel said that the grant is an honor for the Cornucopia Institute. "It’s a tremendous morale booster for our staff and farmer members," Kastel said. "Us receiving the grant is indicative of the fact that the consumers of the Wedge really care about the quality of food, the farmers, and giving back to the community."