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.
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