Green Digest // Brewerys bike fest raises $11,000

The Tour de Fat, a Colorado brewery’s traveling bicycle festival, raised $11,351 in one day for three Minnesota-based bicycling groups during a July stop in Minneapolis.

New Belgium Brewing reported in December that the July 10 Tour de Fat also drew about 3,250 bicyclists — many in costume — to Loring Park in its second annual stop in Minneapolis.

Those tracking the ongoing, unofficial competition between our city and Portland, Ore., to be the bicycle-friendliest city in the country take note: their Aug. 14 Tour de Fat event attracted just 1,750 bicycle enthusiasts, raising $7,595. Both cities lagged far behind the fundraising leaders, including the brewery’s hometown of Fort Collins, Colo., where more than $50,000 was raised, and Tempe, Ariz., which nearly hit the $60,000 mark with its Tour de Fat event.

In all, the 2010 Tour de Fat drew more than 70,000 people to one-day celebrations held in 13 cities between June and October, raising about $331,000 for nonprofit organizations that support bicycling, the brewery reported.

The Minneapolis event benefited three local nonprofit organizations: the Midtown Greenway Coalition, a Minneapolis group that promotes and protects the city’s east-west non-motorized transportation corridor; Minneapolis Off-Road Cycling Advocates, a volunteer organization that builds and maintains off-road trails in city parks; and Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota, a statewide bicycle advocacy group.

The first Tour de Fat event was held in 1997, and since then the tour has expanded to cities across the Southwest, Midwest and West Coast, raising more than $1.5 million for bicycle advocacy groups along the way. The event’s name is a mash-up of the Tour de France bicycle race and the brewer’s signature beer, Fat Tire amber ale.

In the Tour de Fat’s 2010 visit to Minneapolis, both attendance and the amount of funds raised increased from the previous year. Admission to the event was free, with sales of New Belgium beer and merchandise benefiting the local bicycling groups.

Watershed district seeking citizen advisors

Minnehaha Creek Watershed District is seeking applicants to its citizen-led advisory group, which makes recommendations on projects and improvements within the watershed.

New members of the Citizens Advisory Committee will be appointed at the district Board of Managers Jan. 27 meeting. Those who wish to serve as a member of or alternate to the committee must submit applications by Jan. 19.

The 181-square-mile watershed district includes portions or all of 27 cities and two townships, including Southwest neighborhoods around the Chain of Lakes. Land within the district drains into Minnehaha Creek, which in turn drains into the Mississippi River.

Application forms were available for download on the main page of the watershed district’s website,

A greener book club

WHITTIER — The Whittier-based Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy is launching a new book club with a discussion of Anna Lappé’s “Diet for a Hot Planet” 6:30 p.m.–8 p.m. Jan. 18 at the new Peace Coffee Shop, 3262 Minnehaha Ave. S.

The book club will meet on the third Tuesday of every month to discuss books that focus on “the food we eat and the people who grow it,” the institute reported. Expect the book club to focus on topics that reflect the nonprofit’s mission of promoting fair trade and sustainability in the global food system.

The book club is free and open to whoever has read that month’s book and would like to attend. Next up on March 15 

is a discussion of “Grass Roots: The Universe of Home” by 

Paul Gruchow.

To register for either event contact Marin Byrne at or 870-3411.

By the way: Expect to hear more from the institute this year, when it celebrates its 25th anniversary. Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, who then was working in state government as a trade policy analyst, founded the institute in 1987.

For more information, visit

No rush to toss Christmas trees

Green Digest was led astray by some outdated information on the city’s website when this column reported in December that Minneapolis residents could set trees out next to the trash only through the end of January.

That’s what it says under the “Christmas tree” entry on the What To Do List (, the guide to disposing of just about anything you can think of in Minneapolis. But it turns out there’s no rush.

“Minneapolis Solid Waste and Recycling Services accepts Christmas trees next to the garbage cart until the first week in April, after which we collect them with other yard wastes,” wrote Susan Young, director of that department, in an e-mail.

The same rules apply, though: Remove all the ornaments and tinsel, and chop the tree in half if it’s over 6 feet tall.