Green digest // Rain garden workshops

Sign up now for Metro Blooms rain garden workshops

Registration was open for Metro Blooms’ popular spring rain garden workshops in February.

The Minneapolis nonprofit organizes two-part rain garden workshops across the metro area, and they tend to fill up fast, “especially in Minneapolis,” Metro Blooms Executive Director Becky Rice said.

Attendees learn from professional landscape designers and master gardeners the best techniques for planting a rain garden designed to capture and slow rainwater runoff. The low-maintenance gardens help to improve water quality in area lakes and waterways by filtering pollutants out of rainwater.

Slowing the flow of rainwater during storm events can also reduce stream bank erosion and preserve wildlife habitat.

Rice said the workshops — divided into part A and part B — cost $10 each. Those who attend both are the most likely to follow through on plans for a rain garden, she said.

Attendees learn about rain gardens in the first session. When they return for part B, they’re asked to bring a sketch of their property.

During the second session, professional landscape designers and master gardeners use those sketches to help attendees draw up a preliminary design for their rain gardens, Rice said.

“[They] have a lot of knowledge about how to make a beautiful garden and put the right plants in the right locations,” she said.

The first session of the spring was schedule for Southwest. Metro Blooms experts will be at the Lynnhurst Recreation Center, 1345 W. Minnehaha Ave., 6:30 p.m. March 16.

“They’ve usually filled up in Minneapolis a month before the workshop opens,” Rice said. “When we were in Lynnhurst the last time it filled up and there were people on a waiting list.”

To register, visit the Metro Blooms website: metroblooms.org.

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Southwest students win solar energy grant

Southwest High School students won a grant to demonstrate solar energy and its potential to reduce the emission of greenhouse gasses in February.

The Minnesota Schools Cutting Carbon (MnSCC) Project distributed more than $200,000 among 19 student groups planning energy-efficiency and renewable-energy projects. The grants went to students in 23 of the state’s public high schools and institutions of higher learning.

A grant to the Southwest Community Education Green Team will fund solar energy workshops in the community and at area elementary schools. Part of the grant will fund the building of solar lighting and solar heating modules to demonstrate uses of the sun’s power.

The awards were funded through the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund.

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Home energy workshops in Kingfield and Fulton

Kingfield and Fulton residents have several opportunities in March to learn how they can save money by improving the energy efficiency of their homes.

The Minneapolis-based nonprofit Center for Energy and Environment will host two home energy workshops in each neighborhood in March. Neighborhood residents who attend will have a chance to sign up for a free or low-cost professional home energy assessment.

Ashley Robertson, a community organizer at the center, said the home energy assessments have a value of $400. Two of the center’s home energy professionals will spend about 90 minutes with homeowners during the visits, helping to install energy efficient products and conducting blower door tests to look for air leaks.

Robertson said they also would share information on loans, rebates and other incentives that can be used to finance home energy efficiency projects. The home visits are free to Kingfield residents and cost only $20 for those living in Fulton.

Robertson said more than 120 Fulton homeowners participated in the first round of home energy workshops held last fall. Workshops in Kingfield attracted more than 250 homeowners, she added.

Kingfield and Fulton are two of seven Minneapolis neighborhoods participating in the Center’s Community Energy Services program, a pilot project begun in partnership with CenterPoint Energy and Xcel Energy. The program was expected to expand to other Minneapolis neighborhoods soon, Robertson said.

Workshops for Fulton residents are: 6:30 p.m. March 9 at Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, 4801 France Ave. S.; and 6:30 p.m. March 11 at Lake Harriet Community School Upper Campus, 4912 Vincent Ave. S.

Workshops for Kingfield
residents are: 6:30 p.m. March 18 and 10 a.m. March 20 at Pilgrim Lutheran gymnasium, 3901 1st Ave. S.

It is suggested but not required to RSVP to Robertson at 335-5869 or arobertson@mncee.org.

To learn more about the Community Energy Services Program, visit the Center’s website: mncee.org.