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WEI’s 2012 Growing Power Training weekend was well attended, hard working, and exciting! A total of 102 persons attended, presented, volunteered, and worked to offer two days of workshops and fun.

Over 20 individuals and organizations provided financial support or scholarships for youth and low-income community members to attend this event, allowing WEI to continue its partnership with Will Allen and Growing Power, Inc. to train participants in sustainable community farming methods and food justice along with fulfilling our mission as Minnesota’s Growing Power Regional Outreach Training Center (ROTC).

Participants chose from workshops such as hoop house building, aquagreens and microgreens, aquaponics, composting and vermiculture, healing herbs and medicinal plants, and beekeeping and honey making. This year we offered new workshops on growing mushrooms, passive solar building, small farm business planning, and the role of the chef in the good food revolution. Attendees also had the opportunity to tour the WEI farm campus, harvest squash, and visit Howling Moose Aquaponics in Hugo, Minnesota.

Comments from our evaluations included, “What fun (composting)! And we go home with gifts! I can do this now!” At the Healing Herbs and Medicinal Plants workshop, we received “lots of information to help with illnesses and increase health.”  The Growing Mushrooms session was “excellent!” “The diversity and the gathering of all the different people and knowing that we are all from such close areas.”

 Some of the participants shared their goals for the future including, “I want to see fewer fast food restaurants and more fresh garden vegetable lots all through the metro area.” “I would like to expand our garden. It is already a great model for a community-based garden, but we could involve more community members with better outreach and embark on new projects.”  “If we are to grow food in Minneapolis, we need to grow soil – to start up and to replenish year to year. Closing the nutrients loop within the city would be an excellent way to reduce waste, improve the carbon footprint, create jobs, and provide a local source for a much needed input. This can be used for community gardens, urban farms, backyard gardens, container gardens, etc.”