As our month of conservation-themed stories draws to a close, we at The Growler have been thinking about how to be more involved in these pressing global issues in the course of our everyday lives. One thing we’ll do is eat at the Birchwood Cafe (I mean, we do that anyway, because we dream about those savory waffles), but especially now that the cafe is supporting the issues we care about through the Birchwood Boost.
“There are so many big things happening in our world, many scary things, critical issues we’re all facing,” said Birchwood owner Tracy Singleton. “I know how easy it is to feel paralyzed and helpless, to say ‘I don’t know what to do’. So, I wanted to help our customers find a way that’s easy for them to plug in and connect to different organizations that are doing meaningful work on all these big issues.”
The Birchwood Boost partners with a different nonprofit for two months at a time, holding booster club dinners to raise funds, asking customers to round up their purchase at the register, and presenting opportunities to for customers to learn more about the organizations and their missions.
The inaugural group to receive the Birchwood Boost has been Climate Generation. Founded by polar explorer Will Steger (below), the nonprofit is celebrating 10 years of increasing climate literacy, giving educators the tools to teach climate science, and promoting community-based solutions to climate change. Throughout February and March, Birchwood has raised money for Climate Generation’s Summer Institute program at Macalester College.
“The real solutions to climate change are not global, they’re local,” Steger said during last month’s booster dinner. “It’s through social engagement, it’s about getting communities more engaged with solutions. The meal here today is a fine example of our future in Minnesota—local foods, in season.” He spoke about home-grown energy, both in terms of food, but also harnessing renewable sources of power in our own backyard to keep energy dollars in our local economy.
Chef Marshall Paulsen prepared a “low-impact” dinner for the boosters. The average restaurant meal travels a combined 1,500 miles to reach your plate—this dinner traveled closer to 200. During the meal, Greg Reynolds (below) of Riverbend Farm in Delano, talked about his work developing organic farming practices in a changing climate.
“One of the things that I think is important is selecting and adapting seeds to erratic climate,” Reynolds said, adding that when California has multi-year droughts and can’t provide the majority of America’s fresh vegetables, farmers all over the country will have to adapt. “You grow tomatoes or winter squash year after year, they’re exposed to weather cycles. The ones that do the best, we save the seeds. Hopefully they have a broad enough genetic background to adapt to any climate, and we can build a more resilient food system.” (Stay tuned to the April issue of The Growler for more discussion on saving seeds.)
For one last chance to boost Climate Generation, they’ll be screening their collaborative documentary with TPT, “Minnesota Stories in a Changing Climate”, on the big screen in Birchwood’s Community Room on Monday, March 28, from 7-9pm. Food and drink specials will be available.
— Climate Generation (@ClimateGenOrg) March 16, 2016