I have learned so much from my experiences serving with MN 350. It is such an amazing organization to be a part of and the knowledge I’ve gained is unmatched. There are many resources to find on the MN 350 Action website for anyone interested in sustainability and taking care of the earth. Even if you don’t live in Minnesota, the website will provide great educaiton and so many resources.
My favorite team within MN 350 is the Food Systems team. We are fighting for a better food system – one that values people and the planet over profits. If you are interesetd, please join us in building a regenerative and equitable food system in Minnesota. Visit https://mn350.org/food-systems-team/ for details.
I especially love the Nourish by MN350 podcast and highly recommend it. The episodes feature leaders who are creating a regenerative, inclusive, local food economy that we need to meet the challenge of climate change. The latest episode talks about how farmers are adapting to climate change in Minnesota and how some of the adaptations cause cascading issues on our environment. In this episode Mary Clare McAleer and Shannon Lippke speak with longtime farmer and MN350 board member Kurt Kimber, and University of Minnesota professor and Director of Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships (RSDP), Dr. Kathryn Draeger. They discuss what climate change looks and feels like in Minnesota, and how farmers are adapting (for better or worse) to weather extremes and growing stress on local and global food systems.
The conditions of the land in MN are quickly changing and according to the IPPC report we are not on track with climate change. Minnesota is one of the fastest warming states in the country right now – summers are hotter and longer and there is more extreme, unpredictable weather. We have had more mega rains (6 or more inches in a short period of time). As a personal example – in my neighborhood last summer (2022) we had basements flooding throughout the community two different times in the span of a month due to 5+ inches of rain over just a few hours. In the podcast, Dr. Draeger discussed her observation that the amount of tile drainage that is being installed through the state in farm fields has increased and the technology of how the tiles are being made is larger, deeper, and changing the installation – it really changes the farm land. This is one major way that farmers are responding to climate change – but as they put drainage in their fields and take water off the surface of their fields this has cascading issues. As the farmers are addressing the issue of all the standing water – the adaptation that they are using – has other environmental impacts. The tiles are effectively draining year round and in this process nitrogen fertilizers (where nitrogen then turns to nitrate – which is water soluble and drains into rivers) and causes environmental issues that we are just starting to learn about. The City of Des Moine has to have very expensive nitrate removal systems and there are staning lawsuits about who is financially responsible for this. In this conversation you can learn so much about the issues of our land in the local area. Another concern with the tiles is that they turn would be ground water into surface water – and then the water does not get to the aquifers (which is where the farmers irrigation water comes from) so this is an unintended consequence of moving surface water off the landscape faster. Adapting to the change does not always mean addressing the problem at it’s source. We generally think of climate adaptation as a positive thing – we don’t think of it as having negative consequences but there are some cascading issues that come from these adaptations and it’s important to learn about how this all works togeher.
This is info from just the most recent episode of the Nourish podcast. Every episode features amazing leaders who are creating the local food economy we need to meet the challenge of climate change. So much to learn!