Green digest // Yards to gardens

A Craigslist for green thumbs

Are you a wannabe gardener without a garden? A new online tool could help you find your very own plot of dirt this spring.

The website Yards to Gardens (y2g.org) promises to do the same for homeowners with more growing space than they need by connecting them with people who love flowers and veggies, but have no place to plant them. It’s like a Craigslist for gardeners.

It’s also the work of Whittier resident Jason Eustis and two friends.

“We had a garden plot in the [St. Stevens] Community Garden [in Whittier] last year, and we just thought about this idea by really looking around and seeing all the yards,” Eustice said.

Those yards, and all that grass, looked like underutilized space to Eustice — especially in an area where empty community garden plots very hard to come by.

Yards to Gardens launched last summer with the help of a Minneapolis Climate Change Micro Grant. But it didn’t take off until this spring, at the start of a new growing season, Eustice said.

The website’s interactive map also includes listings for local sources of organic compost and gardening tools. The founders write on the website that they hope to battle climate change by helping more people grow food close to home — instead of buying food that may have traveled hundreds of miles to the local grocery store.

Already, Eustice said, Yards to Gardens is connecting local gardeners with other who share their passion for playing in the dirt.

“We thought this concept would be a great way to create a structure for people to get to know their neighbors,” he said.

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Forums series water and the urban environment continues

FULTON — Two spring forums on water quality and conservation give Southwest residents a chance to learn more about their impacts on the urban environment.

The events are the final installments of a three-part series, “Healthy Legacy II: Water,” co-sponsored by the Minneapolis League of Women Voters and a variety of local environmental groups. The first forum, “Our Troubled Waters,” held in March at the University of Minnesota, covered health risks associated with chemicals found in the water supply.

In April, part two of the series, “Urban Water and Land Use,” will explore the potential for urban and suburban expansion to dump an increasing amount of pollutants into Twin Cities-area waterways.

Guests include City of Minneapolis Water Resources Director Lois Eberhart, who was slated to discuss how the Minneapolis land-use plan is designed to protect water resources. Attendees will learn what happens to storm water runoff after it flows off their lawns.

DFL Rep. Jean Wagenius (62-B) will discuss the Clean Water Legacy Amendment and state laws written to protect Minnesota waters.

The forum also will focus on how individual households can impact water quality through landscaping and lawn care techniques, winter snow removal, urban agriculture and food choices. The event will open with a performance by Danza Mexica Cuauhtemoc, a group that interprets political, social and environmental justice issues through traditional Aztec dances.

The “Urban Water and Land Use” forum is 7 p.m.­–9 p.m. April 6 at Lake Harriet United Methodist Church, 4901 Chowen Ave. S. Registration and exhibits open at 6:30 p.m.

The final forum, “Conservation: Preserving Our Water,” was scheduled for 9 a.m.–12:30 p.m. May 8 at Mayflower Congregational Church, 106 E. Diamond Lake Road. Both events are free and open to the public.

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Get a tree, while they last

Hey, hey, hey! The Fat Albert spruce is just one of the low-cost tree varieties available to Minneapolis residents through the City Trees program.

But to get one, you should act fast. Trees typically go quickly in the annual sale, held since 2006.

In partnership with the non-profit Tree Trust, the city will offer more than 1,000 trees on a one-per-household basis. They cost $25 each, and are typically about six feet tall with a one-inch diameter trunk.

Varieties for sale include pagoda dogwood, Kentucky coffee tree, blue beech, Merrill magnolia, regal prince oak, Canada select chokecherry, Redmond linden and burgundy belle maple, the city reported in March.

Spring tree planting took on some added significance when, in February, Minnesota Department of Agriculture scientists discovered an emerald ash borer infestation in the Prospect Park neighborhood, the first in Minneapolis. The invasive pest is expected eventually to kill almost all the city’s nearly 200,000 ash trees.

That could leave a big hole in the canopy. Ash trees are among the top-three most common species in the city’s urban forest.

To order a tree visit treetrust.org or call Tree Trust at (651) 644-5800.

Those who order a tree must pick it up at specific times May 8­–10 at the Minneapolis Impound Lot, 51 Colfax Ave. Volunteers will help load trees into vehicles, along with a complimentary bag of mulch.