Roots and Shoots pushes for grant

Club works with U of M to implement greenhouse, local produce

Maggie Bahnson, Ethan Brown, and Mimi Fhima

After working with staff from the University of Minnesota, senior Nathan Kempf anticipates additional effort in applying for community grants.

According to Kempf, Roots and Shoots is working with SLP SEEDS (Sustainable Educational Edible District Stewardship and Service) in order to receive Planning Grants for a potential greenhouse.

“We are trying to partner with the U of M to get a Planning Grant for the greenhouse,” Kempf said. “This wouldn’t be for the actual construction, it would just be to scout out potential areas and figure out the logistics and technicalities of building it and how it would work.”

SEEDS Community Food Project Director Curtis Wilson said, if granted, the greenhouse would allow more community members access to fresh, local foods.

“Think about having fresh food that’s not off site within a few miles. You can be eating in your lunchroom the products of the greenhouse every week, every day. Depending on the size and scope of it we can create impact on where our food comes from,” Wilson said.

District Superintendent Robert Metz said he believes the goal is attainable for the community, however a final decision will not be made until later in the year.

“This is a realistic possibility in St. Louis Park. I have no idea what the future will bring, and there is only so much money and lots of good ideas, but this is one of the ideas that a lot of people are interested in,” Metz said.

As a member of Roots and Shoots, Kempf said the group supports the initiative and is signing a contract to express their support.

“(Roots and Shoots is) signing a letter of support, an actual contract document, with the SLP SEEDS non-profit. I don’t know exactly how we are going to commit our support yet. We’ll be very vocal about it, but it is to be decided how we are going to work with that further,” Kempf said.

According to Metz, meetings will be conducted throughout January and February 2017 for the community to voice their feedback on the referendum.the-real-seeds_18282200_cc28976c59fbfc037431d154e3612414cbb2ea27

“Meetings will happen at all of the schools (and) a lot of places around St. Louis Park,” Metz said. “If there is a referendum next November, a year from now, all the community can vote, not just parents so it is important that we bring the ideas to everybody in St. Louis Park.”

According to Wilson, the project hopes to open a conversation about the production of fresh healthy food continuing even without the grant.

“Regardless of whether we get the grant or not, we still want to have the conversation,” Wilson said. “We’d love to talk to anyone who’s interested in this or similar events.”

A free community dinner is being offered for anyone interested 6 p.m. Jan. 31, 2017 and Lenox Community Center.