Green digest // More mini markets

Farmers market season is at its late-summer peak, and more neighborhoods this year have easy access to fresh tomatoes and sweet corn thanks to an expansion of mini farmers markets sites.

The number of mini farmers markets located mainly in low-income neighborhoods has tripled between 2008 and 2010, reported the Whittier-based Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), which established the market program in collaboration with the city.

The Walker Place Farmers Market in the East Harriet neighborhood near a senior housing facility was one of the mini farmers markets to debut this summer. The Stevens Square Farmers Market, Southwest’s only other mini farmers market site, opened in 2008.

The mini farmers markets are limited to five or fewer local growers selling fruits and vegetables. They generally are located near neighborhood gathering points like community centers, housing for seniors and churches, and placed strategically in neighborhoods lacking easy access to fresh produce, IATP reported.

IATP Communications Director Ben Lilliston said his organization did not collect detailed data on the use of the mini farmers markets, but pointed to anecdotal evidence that the program was successful. In three years, not a single farmer had dropped out of the program, Lilliston said.

“They are doing good business,” he said.

IATP advocates for “fair and sustainable food, farm and trade systems” both locally and internationally, according to its website. The organization worked with the city in 2007 to develop a new farmers market policy that lessened the time and effort require to establish smaller, neighborhood-based markets.

Walker Place Farmers Market, 3701 Bryant Ave. S., runs 3 p.m.–5 p.m. Fridays through Sept. 24.

Stevens Square Farmers Market, 1900 Nicollet Ave. S., runs 2 p.m.–6:30 p.m. Wednesdays through Oct. 6.

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Southwest companies at fair’s Eco Experience

Wander into the Eco Experience building at the Minnesota State Fair this year and you just might see some familiar faces from Southwest.

ReGo Electric Conversions, 3920 Nicollet Ave. S., is one of dozens of partner businesses and organizations teaming up to put on this year’s Eco Experience. The recently launched Kingfield-based company converts hybrid vehicles like the Toyota Prius to plug-in electric vehicles, promising to increase both the vehicles’ range on electric power alone and their fuel efficiency.

Eco Experience opened in 2006 with support from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. The agency reports the exhibit fulfills its goals of encouraging the purchase of more green products, supporting the businesses that sell them and helping Minnesotans become better stewards of the environment.

Hourcar, the Twin Cities-based car-sharing program, also will be at Eco Experience with information about its fleet of fuel-efficient vehicles. Hourcar has 26 vehicles spread across Minneapolis and St. Paul, including cars in the Kingfield, CARAG, East Isles, Whittier, Stevens Square and Bryn Mawr neighborhoods in Southwest.

Bike Walk Ambassadors also were scheduled to participate in Eco Experience this year. The ambassadors are education and outreach workers for Bike Walk Twin Cities, a federally funded effort to increase transportation by foot, bicycle and public transit in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

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Watershed district sponsors water and climate forum

Green infrastructure, water management and climate change are the topics of a two-day forum Sept. 16–17 co-sponsored by Minnehaha Creek Watershed District.

The Clean Water and Climate Adaptation Summit hosted by the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska will explore the potential uses of green infrastructure — installations designed to mimic natural systems that exist in the environment — for protecting Minnesota’s waterways and adapting to predicted changes in regional weather patterns.

The cost of the summit is $60 per day. To register, go to arboretum.umn.edu and click on “Water/Climate Summit” at the bottom of the main page, or call 952-443-1422.

There is no charge to attend the 18th Annual Kuehnast Lecture, two presentations on adapting to climate change.