Green digest // Organics expert Atina Diffley visiting Southwest

WINDOM — Organic farmer and author Atina Diffley visits Southwest later this month to discuss the links between food, farmers and the land.

The Minnesota Project is hosting the Oct. 23 event at Bachman’s flagship 6010 Lyndale Ave. S. store as part of its Centered on Sustainability series of events, now in its third year. Megan O’Hara, wife of Mayor R.T. Rybak, will open the event.

The Minnesota Project is a St. Paul-based nonprofit whose programs focus on sustainable energy and agricultural practices. Interim Executive Director Dave Glenn said the Centered on Sustainability series is intended to get Minnesotans talking about those issues.

“It’s really kind of an informal gathering to let people understand a little bit more about what they can do to engage in sustainability, the environment [and] what they can do about the environment,” Glenn said.

Diffley ran Gardens of Eagan, the Farmington organic farm that supplies area co-ops and grocers, with her husband Martin from 1985 to 2007, and recently published the memoir “Turn Here Sweet Corn: Organic Farming Works” through University of Minnesota Press. Now working as an organics consultant, Diffley continues to write about sustainable agriculture on her blog,

Tickets for the event are $25 or $50 with a copy of Diffley’s book and can be purchased online at Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the presentation starts at 6 p.m.

Trade mercury for Menards

Hennepin County is offering $5 Menards gift certificates to residents who dispose of mercury-containing items at one of its two drop-off facilities from now until March, or while supplies last.

The program is intended to keep the toxin, hazardous to both humans and wildlife, out of the environment. An element, mercury does not break down over time into less-toxic substances, instead accumulating in lakes and oceans and in fish, according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

Thermostats, thermometers, some types of batteries, fluorescent light bulbs and appliances often contain mercury, but so do a variety of items many wouldn’t suspect, including antique clocks and mirrors — even old fishing lures and golf balls.

The Hennepin County drop-off centers are located at 8100 Jefferson Highway, Brooklyn Park, and 1400 W. 96th St., Bloomington. Both are closed Mondays, Sundays and holidays.

Mercury-containing items are accepted for free at both facilities.

Neighborhood groups launch “Waste to Worth Day”

LINDEN HILLS — Linden Hills Power and Light and the Linden Hills Neighborhood Council have teamed up to sponsor Waste to Worth Day Oct. 26, an opportunity for neighborhood residents to find new homes for unwanted furniture — or to do a bit of free furniture shopping themselves. 

The plan is to take some of the hassle out of disposing of used furniture, and maybe to find some items a new home instead of sending them to the incinerator on garbage day. Residents are asked to RSVP at so they can learn what items neighbors plan to set out and also share which items from their own household will end up on the curb. (Look for the link, “From Waste to Worth: Reduce and Reuse Day,” under the “What’s New” column on the left-hand side of the page.)

On the evening of Oct. 25, residents will leave unwanted items on the curb so that neighbors can browse the following day. Curb shopping takes place on the 26th. City crews will come through the morning of the 27th to collect any furniture remaining.

It’s an idea that takes a bit of coordination, but could easily work in other Southwest neighborhoods, said Felicity Britton of Linden Hills Power and Light.

“All of us have crap cluttering our houses, and … not many of us have a truck so you can haul it to Goodwill,” Britton said.

“The idea is to get the useful stuff into the hands of those who want it,” she continued. “Hopefully there will be nothing left.”

Safely dispose of medicines

Hennepin County recently doubled the number of medicine disposal drop-boxes located around the county.

There are now six places to safely dispose of unused medications, including one in Minneapolis. The drop-box at the Hennepin County Public Safety Facility, 401 4th Ave. S., is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The service is free and drop-box users are not required to present identification, but medicines should be delivered in their original packaging. Both prescription and over-the-counter medicines are accepted, as are vitamins and pet medicines.

The idea is to keep medicines out of the environment, where they can contaminate water supplies. Proper disposal of unused medications also limits the opportunities for abuse or accidental poisoning.

For more information on what is and is not accepted and where to find medicine disposal drop-boxes in Hennepin County, go to