Conserve and Preserve Blog

Exploring ways we can conserve and preserve Rosemount.

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May 21, 2019

Chart showing proper recycling steps

May 14, 2019

Graphic of food labeled "Eat Your Veggies"

I know just by mentioning the word ‘vegetarian’ or ‘vegan’, I have already lost a large chunk of the audience.  BUT DON’T GO!! 

I get it, I do.  Meat is soooo tasty! But just like any modern day shopper, we should be aware of the impact, and sustainability, of our choices.

In full disclosure, I have been a vegetarian for eighteen years.  Sometimes I am shocked by how much time has gone by.  

According to the USDA, this year Americans are set to consume over two hundred and twenty pounds of red meat and poultry, per person. Nutritionists recommend a serving size of meat per day at 5 to 6.5 ounces, or about the size of a deck of cards.  We are consuming almost double that per day.

All that meat consumption is having an impact on the planet's health. According to the Environmental Working Group, growing the feed for livestock in the U.S. alone requires 167 million pounds of pesticides and 17 billion pounds of nitrogen fertilizer each year.  This process creates nitrous oxide, which is a greenhouse gas 300 times stronger than carbon dioxide.  Another greenhouse gas, methane, is produced by cattle and is estimated to be roughly one fifth of the overall US methane emissions.

The solution can be simple: Americans should try to eat less meat.  Small changes in your diet can add up to very large, positive changes in our environment. I don’t recommend going cold turkey, pun intended, on your meat consumption.  Unless you are in the mood for a radical change in your lifestyle. Changing habits is hard.  Life’s too short, in my opinion, for strict diets. Or for measuring or weighing every portion of food. 

Try cutting meat out of one day a week, like meatless Monday (or Wednesday, we all know Mondays are hard enough).  By doing this you could reduce your meat consumption by 31.3 pounds per year. If every American reduced their consumption by 1/7th, that would remove the need for 10 billion pounds of meat each year.  By doing small changes, gradually, the changes tend to stick around longer, and become easier. 

I am a big snacker, and eater.  And despite my vegetarianism, or perhaps because of it, I eat a variety of foods. I use a quick trick when eating to stay happy and healthy:  I try to incorporate as many different natural colors into my food as possible.  Toss some fresh blueberries in your yogurt or cereal.  Chop up red bell peppers in your stir fry.  Peel and eat an orange for a day time snack. Or the millennial favorite: put avocado on your toast!  By just trying to make my plate as colorful as possible, I get a diversity of vitamins and nutrients without too much thought, or meat. 

Graphic showing 1940s recommended foods

I love this food circle from the 1940’s USDA. I don’t think these nutrition standards are quite the same as today, but they had the color trick down!

If you have made it this far reading about this topic, thanks for staying with me! Any sort of topic like this (or politics or taxes), tends to get people riled up.  I’ll try to hit it home for the few of you that are still reading this by providing you some other great facts and benefits to reducing your meat consumption:

  • You will save money! For the cost of a steak or package of hamburger, you can get a variety of fruits, vegetables, and nuts in the bulk sections of the market.
  • You will reduce the strain on the water supply!  Raising animals for food consumes more than half of all water used in the U.S.  It takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce a pound of meat but only 25 gallons to produce a pound of wheat.
  • A typical pig factory generates the same amount of raw waste as a city of 12,000 people. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, raising animals for food is the number-one source of water pollution.
  • On a world-wide level, the world’s cattle alone consume a quantity of food equal to the caloric needs of 8.7 billion people. According to the Worldwatch Institute, “Roughly 2 of every 5 tons of grain produced in the world is fed to livestock, poultry, or fish; decreasing consumption of these products, especially of beef, could free up massive quantities of grain and reduce pressure on land.”
  • Your heart will thank you.  Meat, especially red meat consumption, is consistently linked with an increase in heart disease and the risk of certain types of cancer.
  • By replacing meat with colorful vegetables, you can be getting vital nutrients, called phytochemicals, that just aren’t available in meat. Lycopene is found in tomatoes and it’s a powerful antioxidant and cancer risk reducer.  Anthocyanin is found in purple and blue fruits and vegetables and helps protect cells from damage.  Carotenoids found in orange and yellow vegetables are great for your eyes and can help prevent cataracts and other age-related macular degenerations! The beneficial list just goes on and on.

Try to cut back the meat consumption one day a week, and see what other ways it benefits the environment, and you!

-Jes Braun, MN GreenCorps member serving in Rosemount

May 7, 2019

Photo showing goat with title, "The goats are coming to Rosemount"

April 30, 2019

Graphic for high school garden

Guess which rad high school is getting a rain garden at the end of May? Yeah, you guessed it: Rosemount High School!

This spring, RHS is breaking ground on an outdoor classroom on the northwest side of the high school. The rain garden will be located next to the outdoor classroom. Functioning not only as a rainwater filtration system, but also as a learning tool for the students!  

Photo of location proposed for garden

Before: a large, slightly sloped turf grass area is the future location for the rain garden

The garden is a partnership with MN GreenCorps, Rosemount Ecology Club, RHS Foundation, Friends of the Mississippi River, the City of Rosemount, and Dakota County Soil and Water Conservation District.

The 390-square-foot garden will feature all native plants like Marsh Milkweed, Prairie Clover, and Showy Goldenrod. It will filter roughly an acre of water runoff that flows to a pipe directly draining to nearby Schwarz Pond. This will help keep the pond clean for all migratory birds and local plants. The water that doesn’t flow to the pipe, will be captured by the plants and allowed to infiltrate into the roots and down to the Prairie-du-Chien aquifer below. This aquifer has been the target of increased pumping lately and is in dire need of replenishment.

Interested in putting a rain garden or native plants on your property to help capture and clean water? Reach out to me for resources! Interested to hear more about this awesome rain garden project? Reach out to me, too! I am happy to chat.

Happy Spring!

-Jes Braun, MN GreenCorps member serving in Rosemount

April 22, 2019

Hi Rosemount! This week is one of my favorite weeks of the year. 

Graphic for Earth Week

Earth Week! And Rosemount is busy celebrating! Check out this list of eco-celebrations and events below. Join in, or be inspired and start your own!

On Monday, April 22, come hear Stacy Boots Camp from the Center of Energy and Environment speak at the Steeple Center at 6 pm. She will be providing energy saving tips to cut your bills and address problems like ice dams and wet basements. There will be free snacks and a chance to win a $600 Home Energy Squad visit.

Rosemount City staff is cleaning up the streets and parks around city hall on Thursday, April 25, at 10:30 a.m. Go staff!

On Friday, April 26, 260 students, led by two awesome RHS science teachers and Great River Greening will be working on removing buckthorn from Carroll’s Woods.

And on Saturday, April 27, there is a large Great River Greening forest restoration event, also at Carroll’s Woods! Rosemount really showed up for this event, and it is at capacity for volunteers, but feel free to come by with a wave and show of support for all the awesome volunteers that day. Event starts at 8:30 a.m. and runs to 12:30 p.m.

On a county level, Dakota County is happy to announce a new organics collection site that is FREE for Rosemount residents and close by! Check out this link for more information.

Regionally, the Minnesota Valley Transit Authority is hosting a commuter challenge! They are challenging you to ditch your car and take advantage of all the money-saving and health-benefiting options the whole week. You can win a VIP package for 4 to Canterbury Park, among other prizes. Get on Board at https://www.mvta.com/commuterchallenge.

Really proud of Rosemount this week! What else can we get up to?

-Jes Braun, MN GreenCorps member serving in Rosemount

April 17, 2019

Hi Rosemount, let’s talk about BUGS!

Recognize these little guys?

Photos of emerald ash borer and Japanese beetle


They are so handsome, right? Why is it that the cutest things can be THE MOST DESTRUCTIVE.

And some are not so handsome.

Graphic of a worm saying

These critters are Emerald Ash Borer, Japanese Beetle, and Earthworms

Did you know that Earthworms are NOT native to Minnesota?  Like most invasive species, they were brought over from other continents, specifically Europe in this case. Their harm comes from destroying forest floor plants by eating decaying leaves. These leaves previously helped create a nutrient rich and spongy layer of material that gave away to lush ferns and wildflowers. Without this layer, these plants can’t grow, leaving almost bare grounds. In areas that are heavily infested, the lack of understory plants increases soil erosion and leaching of nutrients into waterways which can degrade fish habitat.

What can you do to help? 
If you are using worms to fish, don’t dump your unused worms on the ground!  If you use them in your compost, that’s great! But keep them contained or dispose of them in a waste receptacle. And tell all your friends, helping to spread the word on this wiggly problem.

Now let’s talk about the two beauty beetles above. The Emerald Ash Borer, as you can probably tell by its name, loves to attack just one plant: the Ash tree. This shiny green beetle hails from North East Asia.  Now, out of its native range, it is responsible for killing, at a minimum, tens of millions of trees and threatens to kill most of the 8.7 billion Ash trees throughout North America. Guess which state has the highest volume of Ash trees? Yup, Minnesota. We have almost a billion forestland and urban Ash trees in our home state.

How can we stop this? 
Don’t move your firewood! If you are camping or cabining, purchase locally sourced wood to prevent the spread of the bug. Know your tree is infested? Depending on if it’s caught early or late, you can either inject the tree with insecticide (if the tree is still healthy), or remove the tree before the bug causes the tree to die out, dry out, and become hazardous to property and people when they fall. A lot of cities have taken a proactive approach and are removing ash trees to systematically stop the spread of the pest. More information on EAB can be found on this great website from the MN Department of Agriculture. The City has more information on how they are treating EAB on their website here. Reach out to a tree care professional for guidance regarding your specific situation. This beetle is vastly more complicated than I am giving it credit for! But we can slow its destructive path.

The Japanese Beetle is not as picky of an eater as the Emerald Ash Borer. The adults of this species feed on the foliage and fruits of over 300 types of trees, shrubs, vines, and field and vegetable crops. The adults eat the leaves of the plants, leaving large holes that make the leaves look skeletal. The grubs develop in the soil and feed on the roots of the plants. 

How can we stop them? 
Keep a lookout for these beetles. Take care not to move the adults or larvae from site to site in soil or on vegetation. Most grubs are transported through nursery stock and grass sod. Adults can fly considerable distances which makes controlling them difficult. Check out this UMN Extension website for more help identifying, and controlling, Japanese Beetles. 

These are not the only invasive bugs threatening our state. The gypsy moth is another bad culprit. Asian Long-Horned Beetles are headed this way from the east coast. And outside of bugs we have invasive aquatic species like zebra mussels, sea lampreys, and common carp that are already harming MN. All invasive species were brought in by humans moving goods around. Don’t move firewood far from where you cut it, check your boat for aquatic hitchhikers, and don’t import plants or wood from other states and countries without checking to see how they handle invasives! Education, communication, and action are the only way we are going to stop these, and other pests, from changing MN for good. Let’s squash these bugs, Rosemount.

-Jes Braun, MN GreenCorps member serving in Rosemount

April 9, 2019

Calling all Rosemount artists!

Did you know that Rosemount sits on an underground water highway? When rain falls on roadways, sidewalks, and parking lots, it runs off into the nearest storm drain. It’s a common misconception that stormwater from these drains are piped to a treatment plant. This is NOT the case! These storm sewer highways travel to our local ponds, lakes, and rivers. 

Cities are designed this way to prevent flooding. But one of the problems with this system is it’s not just rain that flows into these drains. Trash, soil, road salt, fertilizer, and other pollutants are picked up by this stormwater and carried through our storm drain highway and into our waterbodies. Rosemount is part of the Vermillion River Watershed. The Vermillion River is one of the smaller tributaries that flow into the Mississippi River. It is home to the last remaining world-class trophy trout fishery in a metropolitan area in the United States. However, the Vermillion River is part of the State of Minnesota’s impaired waters list. This means that it has failed to meet one or more water quality standards.  Pollution from failing septic systems, stormwater runoff, and agricultural pesticides and fertilizer are threatening the health of this river.

Most people walk right past a storm drain and don’t connect our drains with our waterways. 

But what if that drain was painted with a beautiful mural that could help make that connection? What if we could use art to get residents thinking about what they can do to keep our water clean? Because Minnesota’s Clean Water Starts Here!

The City of Rosemount would like to do just that! We are accepting submissions of original art (painting or drawing) to be turned into a stormwater mural! This contest is open to all Rosemount residents, in all age ranges! Deadline for art is June 15th. Have a question about what kind of art qualifies or need additional guidelines? Shoot me an email!

Poster for call for art

-Jes Braun, MN GreenCorps member serving in Rosemount

April 2, 2019

Does your home garbage can spill over with food scraps?

Do you find yourself wanting to do a bit more to reduce your ‘footprint’?

Graphic of overflowing trashcan

If you answered yes to either of these questions than there might be a simple solution for you: Composting!

Composting is a very easy, adaptable, and effective way to create less garbage. There are a litany of benefits to composting! Here are a few:

  1. When food scraps decompose in a typical landfill, they create methane, which is a greenhouse gas 30 times stronger than carbon dioxide.
  2. Less trash in your waste bin can reduce the amount your trash hauler takes away from your house. Less trash means smaller bins and less in fees (more money for you!).
  3. Composting at home helps you create nutrient rich soil for your garden and lawn, for free!
  4. Composting through a facility means you can compost more than your backyard system can handle! Like meat, bones, paper plates, and dairy products (aka the waste left over after a great bbq).

Composting can be anywhere on the scale from tabletop compost collection bins, to under the sink vermiculture (worm) containers, to backyard 3 bin compost systems, to industrial size operations.  More variety means you can find what fits you and your families need.  

Don’t know where to start? Here are a few tips that might work for you! 

Backyard Composting:

A lot of people worry that composting in their backyard will be a messy, unattractive, and critter attracting event.  You might get the occasional visit from a field mouse, but backyard composting can be really sharp looking and smell free, and a great topic of conversation at your next lawn party!  

There are a few keys to making backyard composting smooth sailing:

You want a 2 to 1 ratio of ‘brown’ to ‘green’. Brown is from your yard waste: leaves, small twigs, etc.  Green is from your kitchen: fruits, vegetables, coffee grounds (and if your lawn mower collects its grass clippings, you can include those in green as well!). The brown materials contribute carbon to the compost and the green materials contribute nitrogen.  Two handfuls of brown, or carbon, added to the pile should be balanced with 1 handful of green, or nitrogen. That’s it! Easy right?

Now that you have the right ingredients, this is how you ‘cook’ the compost: Just add air and water! 

Air: Encouraging air flow helps the microbes break down the compost. (turn the compost pile from time to time).

Water: You should periodically wet down the compost to encourage decomposition.

Graphic showing steps to compost

You can buy a round tumbler to churn the soil, like this one here: 

Photo of woman moving compost container

or you can buy a three-bin system to transfer the soil as it settles in different stages. 

This can be visualized more as a conveyor belt system. You get three identical bins and set them side by side. You want them to be able to let air in, so chicken wire or closely set boards work well. There are lots of different options out there for the construction. You start with bin one and put all your greens and browns in the bin (remember that 2 to 1 ratio as you toss things in! A friend of mine keeps a pile of leaves and hay next to their bins to add in when they dump out their kitchen scraps.). All the new material gets added to bin one only.  When that bin fills to the top, move it to the next one, or bin number two. This will help add in more air and turn the compost as you transfer it.  Keep adding new material to bin number one and when it is full again, move everything from bin two, to bin three. The full bin one gets dumped in the now empty bin two, and bin one is open for new business, I mean material, again. Bin number three’s compost should be fully broken down and ready to use!

Graphic showing bins for composting process

This process is speedier than you might think. Some composting systems can have fresh, nutrient rich compost for you to use in as little as 3 weeks. You can use it in your house plants, veggie garden, flower patches, or even give bags of it to friends and family. You made that! Good job!

Commercial Composting:

Commercial composting is handy for those on the go, or for families who want to compost more of their kitchen scraps, as the commercial composting systems can handle meat and dairy products. Plus you don’t have to worry about that carbon to nitrogen ratio!  Rosemount is super lucky to have a large compost facility nearby. I live in Minneapolis and we have a residential curbside compost program (right now about 37% of the city participates in the program, the largest in the nation). But guess where all that compost ends up? Near Rosemount! It’s processed at the Mulch Store. They accept residential drop-offs for a very small fee (contact the Mulch Store for more info). So you can bag up all your food scraps in a compostable bag, tie it up, and drop it off! Easy as pie.  

Want to have your compost picked up curbside? At this time, the waste haulers that service Rosemount don’t offer residential curb-side compost pickup. A few do offer it for business or schools! Call your friendly local waste hauler for more information.

Want to compost but still don’t know where to start? Shoot me an email, I’d love to help you find the best solution for your needs!

-Jes Braun, MN GreenCorps member serving in Rosemount [email]


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