Green digest // On Earth Day, free trees for kids

On Earth Day, free trees for kids

LINDEN HILLS — Students at four Minneapolis schools took home free white pine saplings on April 22, Earth Day, thanks to Neighborhood Trees, an environmental-awareness project started by Fulton resident Vikas Narula.

“The mission is to beautify our neighborhoods, give the kids an opportunity to do something proactive on Earth Day and educate them about the value of trees and the environment,” Narula said.

Inspired by a similar project he participated in while attending college in Iowa, Narula hatched the idea for Neighborhood Trees just after Earth Day 2009. Neighborhood Trees distributed about 450 saplings this year, but Narula said that was just the beginning.

“Ultimately, we’d like to be able to provide trees to as many kids in Minnesota, every year, [as we can],” he said. “We would love to be able to give away hundreds of thousands of trees every year to schoolchildren in the state.”

Four schools — including Lake Harriet Community School’s lower campus, where Narula’s son is a kindergartener — participated in the first tree giveaway.

Area teachers who would like to participate in next year’s giveaway can contact Narula at [email protected] or (763) 607-3675.

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It’s farmers market season

Ready for an early taste of summer?

A number of farmers markets across the city were scheduled to open by the end of this month. The Minneapolis Farmers Market (mplsfarmersmarket.com) at 312 Lyndale Ave. N. got a head start on the action, opening for the 2010 season April 24.

The Minneapolis Farmers Market runs Fridays through Sundays at its Lyndale Avenue location and every Thursday on Nicollet Mall beginning April 29. Early season produce will include parsnips, spinach, onions and radishes, according to the market’s website.

The Mill City Farmers Market (millcityfarmersmarket.org), held Saturdays on the plaza between The Guthrie Theater and Mill City Museum, opens May 8.

The Kingfield Farmers Market (kingfieldfarmersmarket.org) at the intersection of West 43 Street and Nicollet Avenue, held every Sunday during the growing season, was set to open for the first time this season May 23.

Uptown residents will have to wait a little longer for the first Uptown Market of the season. After debuting last year as a monthly farmers market and craft fair, it will return this summer as a weekly event, running every Sunday beginning June 20.

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Tour de Fat returning in June

Tour de Fat, the traveling bicycle celebration sponsored by New Belgium Brewing, will pedal into Minneapolis again July 10, the Fort Collins, Colo., based craft brewer announced in April.

Tour organizers were once again looking for one local resident willing to swap his or her motorized vehicle for a bicycle and live without a car for a year. The person who submits the winning video or written essay will receive a hand-built Black Sheep commuter bicycle
(blacksheepbikes.com).

Tour de Fat is in its 11th year of promoting bicycles as a healthy and environmentally friendly form of transportation. Proceeds from event sales of merchandise and New Belgium beers, including Fat Tire Amber Ale, are donated to local cycling nonprofits.

To make your bid for the car-bike swap, visit newbelgium.com/tour-de-fat.

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Sprout.mn goes offline

LINDEN HILLS — Sprout.mn, a local website that promised to help eco-aware shoppers buy green and save money, ceased operations in April.

Founded in 2007 by Casey and Megan Collins of Linden Hills and Megan Collins’ father Rick Kaplan, the site by late 2009 had attracted about 1,300 “Sprouters” and 550 businesses by combining a green business directory with social networking features. Sprouters were directed to deals at environmentally responsible businesses and shared green tips on the site’s blog, Fresh Dirt.

Casey Collins said they were preparing to launch “Sprout 2.0” in April when they took a close look at operations.

“Longer-term, we were unsure about it,” he explained. “It was self-funded and it just — we couldn’t see far enough down the road with enough revenue to justify what we were spending every month.”

Despite putting many hours of their own labor into the site for free, Casey Collins said the experience had been a good one, especially meeting and working with local green business owners.