Women's Environmental Institute

The Women's Environmental Institute at Amador Hill is an environmental research, renewal, and retreat center designed to create and share knowledge about environmental issues and polices relevant to women, children and communities overcoming environmental injustices; to promote organic and sustainable agriculture and skill building; and to promote activism that influences public policy and promotes social change.
Feb 26, 2014

2014 Update to WEI's Hoop House Project

Hoop House Construction at Training
Hoop House Construction at Training

In October 2013, the Women's Environmental Institute held it's fourth annual training with Will Allen and his Growing Power staff at our Amador Hill Farm Campus near North Branch, MN. More than 100 participants gained hands-on farming skills training. That included about 20 individuals who constructed WEI's fifth and longest on-site hoop-house to date -- a 92 foot structure that was completed in 2 days. The hoop house builders included an 11 year old girl and an approximately 55 year old woman, both Native Americans, who have been part of the 24th St. Urban Farm named Mashkiikii Gitigan (Ojibwe for Medicine Garden) that WEI has helped to create in South Minneapolis. They both gained skills and knowledge that they are taking back to Mashkiikii Gitigan for the hoop house that is expected to be built on-site there this 2014 summer or fall, pending a decision about land use permanency issues to be solved with the City of Minneapolis. Several hoop house designs are being considered, including one using Indigenous construction methods that may be combined with compressed earth block. The Coalition that helps govern the 24th St. Urban Farm with active input from the community will guide the decision-making and choice of hoop house design and location.

An additional hoop house was also partially constructed at the October training on Amador Hill which features an in-ground aqua culture tank for WEI to begin growing fish. It will be completed this Spring and may serve as a model that WEI can help construct on potential urban acquaculture farm sites in the Twin Cities. A team of about 10 people participated in that construction and several expect to go forward in both rural and urban communities to build similar structures. A variety of fish and accompanying vegetables can be grown in such hoop houses and offer extended production opportunities.

The accompanying photos give a sense of the enthusiasm and cultural diversity of the participants in the WEI?Growing Power training -- African American, Hmong, Latino, American Indian, youth and elders. Both urban and rural participants learned new skills, exchanged knowledge from their traditions and generally enjoyed each other. WEI will be holding it's fifth year of partnering with Growing Power for farm training in fall 2014 -- probably late September or early October. As always, we will be seeking funds to provide scholarships for our many low-income participants.

 (Please note: Photos will be attached and sent tomorrow from other WEI staff)


Building below-ground aquaponics system  Oct 2013
Building below-ground aquaponics system Oct 2013
24th Street Community Urban Farm Spring 2013
24th Street Community Urban Farm Spring 2013
Christina & Felicia at our 24th Street Urban Farm
Christina & Felicia at our 24th Street Urban Farm
Jacque, Will Allen, and Karen on the compost pile
Jacque, Will Allen, and Karen on the compost pile
Jul 25, 2013

Summer 2013 Update on WEI's Hoop House report

Will Allen visited Little Earth Urban Farm 6/2013
Will Allen visited Little Earth Urban Farm 6/2013

Women's Environmental Institute Update on Hoop House Project

As WEI continues our deepening collaboration with Will Allen and his Growing Power, Inc. team we look forward to constructing several more hoop houses in the Twin Cities Metro area in order to significantly extend our farm growing season  in both spring and  fall.  We have expanded our partnerships and also exploring some exciting new construction innovations that align with our culturally specific environmental and food justice mission.

For summer 2013, WEI is in need of additional resources to assist the following projects to complete hoop house plans that offer several exciting innovations: 

1) The Women's Environmental Institute (WEI) continues to work with Little Earth of United Tribes (LEOUT) housing complex to create its own urban farm in South Minneapolis. The hoop house we helped them to construct (in partnership with the Little Earth Teen Youth program and with support from the Minneapolis Community Action Agency) suffered from vandalism and was temporarily deconstructed this spring. Now a more permanent hoop house/greenhouse structure will be built with youth participating through the MN YouthBuild program. Additional urban farm infrastructure construction will potentially include an on-site Little Earth farmer's market.  As final funding is being sought for this development, we are hopeful that phase one can be accomplished by mid or late October. Note that the LEOUT youth and young adults will become pre-apprentices in an exciting new combination of building trades construction and urban farming with this project,

2) The 24th St. Urban Farm Homestead that WEI helped create in coalition with the Indigenous People’s Task Force, the Indian Health Board, Native American Community Clinic, Waite House,  Ventura Village and  others has literally bloomed into a dynamic and beautiful urban farm that is drawing and inspiring hundreds of neighborhood participants. The farm has not only produced abundant organic produce that is being shared daily with neighborhood participants and with the Waite House's free lunch program, chef training and foodshelf next door, it has also become a place for teaching and learning about creating nutrient rich soil to grow and eat healthy foods, the connections to health disparities such as diabetes and obesity, and also a place to share great music, spoken word and story telling.  As we work to complete the funding needed for the hoop house construction, the Coalition is focused 1) on getting clarificaton about the exact site on which the hoop house will be built since the land is still owned by the city of Minneapolis and has various restrictions on it; and 2) on an exciting and innovative approach to its structure that will utilize traditional Indigenous construction methods yet to be tried in any known hoop house construction in the U. S. This is an exciting devleopment that may yield a culturally specific hoophouse demonstration model which is well suited to the climate change that is upon us. We are working with an Indigenous Native American construction engineer who is guiding us. About 2/3’s of the funding needed to hire the engineer and do the construction has been raised to date.  We expect to continue WEI's method of working with youth and young adult pre-apprentices in order to equip them with viable entreprenurial skillls they can take into the marketplace.  As previously noted, the growers at this  24th St. Urban Farm are part of the Community Food Justice Council, created as a collaboration between WEI and the Environmental Justice Advocates of MN with USDA support.

3) WEI expects to be invited to help build hoop houses in several additional urban communities, especially important as consciousness about climate change has become more widespread with Minnesota's May 2013 blizzard and heavy rains that delayed farming all across the region. We identifiy the critically needed growing season extensions that hoop houses can provide as an important environmental justice/ food justice strategy. We will need to raise significant funds for scholarships for our 2013 Growing Power Training weekend with Will Allen on Saturday, October 5 through Sunday, October 6, 2013 at our Amador Hill farm campus.  Hands-on teaching about how to build an affordable hoop house from beginning to end will continue to be a major part of the training. We intend, as in the past, to provide this training opportunity to more low-income participants both regionally and throughout the country.  Please be generous in your support! Thank you.

Bountiful Minnesota hoop house produce 2013
Bountiful Minnesota hoop house produce 2013
24th St. Urban Farm at Opening Ceremony May 2013
24th St. Urban Farm at Opening Ceremony May 2013
Mar 21, 2013

WEI Hoop House Project Update for Spring 2013

Women's Environmental Institute Update on Hoops House Project

WEI continues its collaboration with Will Allen and his Growing Power, Inc. team to build hoop houses in the Twin Cities. Since hoop houses in Minnesota are able to significantly extend the growing season in this state, this project remains an important program for ongoing development in the spring and fall of each year.

For spring 2013, WEI is in need of additional resources to assist the following projects to complete their hoop house plans:

1) The Women's Environmental Institute (WEI) continues to work with Little Earth of United Tribes (LEOUT) housing complex to create its own urban farm. The hoop house we helped them to construct (in partnership with the Little Earth Teen Youth program and with support from the Minneapolis Community Action Agency) suffered from vandalism to the plastic cover and is in the process of repair in order to accomplish its intended purpose. Once the installation of the fence deemed necessary by the Little Earth community to better protect their entire urban farm space has been completed, our technical engineer consultant, Charley Hatch, will begin work to re-install a new covering that will allow the tomatoes, pepper, and herbs thriving within to have an extended season. Repair supplies have been purchased. As final funding is being sought for the fence and its gates, we are hopeful that can be accomplished by mid or late October.  In the meantime, a re-invigorated residential compost project has taken shape at Little Earth and will be part of generating new soil for the farm. Six new compost bins were constructed and 40 residents, including children and youth participated in their installation. WEI has begun a series of 15 weekly farm training classes on site at Little Earth in order further develop their strong farm team, including the compost and hoop house growing opportunities. All await the new Little Earth Farm fence so the hoop house can be re-covered.

2) The 24th St. Urban Farm Homestead that WEI helped create in coalition with Indigenous People’s Task Force, Ventura Village, Native American Community Clinic, Waite House, Indian Health Board and Dream of Wild is preparing to build its hoop house this year. In spring 2012, WEI participated with the coalition members to build a raised bed farm garden in the shape of a turtle on land hosted by the Indian Health Board. We recently received funding for a shared farmer to work with the Latino farm project and the 24th Street Farm. About 2/3’s of the funds to build the hoop house for the 24th St. Urban Farm coalition have been raised and the final issue being addressed is its exact site location. Until the City of Minneapolis decides on the status of the adjacent site we are seeking, we may build a small hoop house on the Indigenous People’s Task Force land. WEI's engineer will work with youth pre-apprentices who will learn how to construct it. The growers at this urban farm are part of the Community Food Justice Council, created as collaboration between WEI and the Environmental Justice

3) As a result of the 2013 Growing Power training conference, WEI expects to be invited to help build hoop houses in several additional urban areas. One may be with school children at Harmony School. One may be with Hope Community gardens. Each of these groups sent staff and community participants to the training and will be seeking funding.

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