between Minneapolis and Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community to
demonstrate environmental and food production benefits of biochar,
focus on healthy food for underserved communities
In five demonstration gardens, the City of Minneapolis is
studying the effectiveness of combining compost with biochar, a
soil amendment similar to charcoal. Biochar works with compost to
increase crop yields, improve local water quality by reducing runoff,
and combat climate change by holding carbon and nitrogen in the
soil where they serve as fertilizer instead of being released into
the air where they would become pollutants. Minneapolis is one of
the first cities in the U.S. to study the benefits of biochar. The
focus of this demonstration project will be increased access to
locally grown food for historically underserved communities, including
The study is part of a new agreement with the Shakopee Mdewakanton
Sioux Community (SMSC). The City and the SMSC share common values
in environmental stewardship and sustainability. The SMSC operates
Recycling Facility, the largest single compost site in Minnesota.
Due to the many benefits of using biochar, the SMSC and the City
seek to work together to promote compost and biochar in their respective
communities. This program consists of two main components: producing
a biochar/compost mix at the Organics Recycling Facility and developing
demonstration projects, including education and outreach. The U.S.
Department of Agriculture is also involved in the study.
In our relationship with the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux
Community, we are working toward food justice and better health
for all of our communities, said Mayor Betsy Hodges. Making
healthy food more readily available for our underserved communities
is a building block of equity.
are excited to partner once again with the City of Minneapolis on
an effort aimed at benefitting the environment and the food supply,
said Chairman Charlie Vig, Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community,
referencing the SMSCs donation of honeybees and hives to the
City last year. Helping people of all economic backgrounds
access fresh, local food is a high priority for the SMSC.
Biochar is a charcoal specially developed for agriculture. It
can be made from agricultural waste exposed to high temperatures.
The Citys biochar is made from sawmill scraps of white oak
charred in a zero-oxygen environment at around 500 degrees Celsius.
This stabilizes the carbon and prevents it from being released into
the environment where it could contribute to climate change. Biochar
improves plant growth by making the compost or fertilizer used with
it more effective. City and SMSC staff hope to demonstrate biochars
positive effects on plant growth and soil health in urban environments.
The 24th Street Urban Farming Coalition is using the food it
grows in the Mashkiikii Gitigan (Ojibwe for Medicine Garden,
one of the five biochar demonstration gardens) to help restore traditional
diets and combat diabetes, hypertension, obesity and other problems
associated with eating processed foods. The Waite
House prepares and donates meals made from the vegetables grown
in Medicine Garden; at the same time it helps at-risk youths become
more employable by training them in the catering business.
The demonstration gardens:
The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community is a federally recognized,
sovereign Indian tribe located southwest of Minneapolis/Saint Paul.
With a focus on being a good neighbor, good steward of the earth
and good employer, the SMSC is committed to charitable donations,
community partnerships, a healthy environment and a strong economy.
The SMSC and the SMSC Gaming Enterprise (Mystic Lake Casino Hotel
and Little Six Casino) together are the largest employer in Scott
County. Out of a Dakota tradition to help others, the SMSC has donated
nearly $300 million to organizations and causes since opening the
Gaming Enterprise in the 1990s and has contributed millions more
to regional governments and infrastructure such as roads, water
and sewer systems, and emergency services. For more information,
The 24th Street Urban Farm Coalition members include staff from
Dream of Wild Health, Indigenous Peoples Task Force, Indian
Health Board, Native American Community Clinic, Ventura Village,
Waite House and Womens Environmental Institute. These organizations
and individuals formed the coalition and worked together to create
the Mashkiikii Gitigan (Medicine Garden) Project to address food
justice issues in the Phillips neighborhood and the American Indian
community. The mission of the 24th Street Urban Farm Coalition is
to create and nurture the culture and practice of local organic
food production, healthy eating, healthy living and related activities
along the 24th Street Wellness Corridor and throughout the Phillips
The City of Minneapolis has goals around equity and health
health of both people and the environment. Visit www.minneapolismn.gov/homegrown
for information on local food initiatives in Minneapolis. Or click
here for more information on Minneapolis air quality efforts.