Apr 18

Upcoming GMO Labeling Panel, plus lots of great Earth Week events!

Hello, Green Living Bemidji followers!    We’ve got an exciting week coming up. Next week is Earth Week, which brings you a jam-packed schedule of events at Bemidji State.  Many of these are open to the public, so don’t miss these great opportunities to learn more about climate change, where your trash goes, being a vegetarian, Minnesota’s Food Charter, GMO labeling, and electronic waste disposal!   Yeah – that’s a LOT of topics.  The full schedule of events will be posted further below on the blog, but first I wanted to highlight the AMAZING workshop we had last Tuesday!

This past Tuesday, over 25 families went home with worm bins! 

A full house!

What a night!  What a crowd!  I could not have imagined a better turnout for this event.  We packed the Rail River Folk School for this “Vermiculture 101” presentation.  Josh Burnham, of Headwaters Worm Castings, and Rochelle Quick, an experienced vermiculture bin-maker, joined us and told us all about the power of worms and worm poop!  It sounds crazy, but it’s a wonderful way to reduce the food waste in your kitchen and create beautiful, nutrient-rich dirt for your garden or plants.

Rochelle shows off the inside of her worm bin

For those of you who went home with worm bins, here are some fantastic resources to consult for more information about your worms.  We ran out of our vermiculture handouts last night, but that same information on the handout is located on this site, with thanks to the MPCA: http://www.pca.state.mn.us/index.php/living-green/living-green-citizen/compost/composting-food-scraps-indoors.html

Participants drill holes to create their worm bins

How are your worms doing?  I heard that some people had worms trying to escape the first night – do not panic!  This is totally normal.  If you found your worms trying to get out of your bin, it is likely because they haven’t adjusted to their new environment. If this is still happening, remember to keep your worm bin in a lighted room (or keep a lamp next to your bin).  Worms do not like direct light, so they will stay inside the bin if there’s a light source outside.  They should be used to their new bin within a few days.  If you are still experiencing issues, it may be that your bin is either too wet or too dry – worms will try and escape conditions that they don’t like, so if you find them trying to crawl away in the future, it is a sign that something might be up.

Also, here’s a quick, basic guideline of what you can and can’t feed your worms:


  • Vegetable & fruit waste (citrus fruit should be added in moderation, if at all – they make the bin too acidic for the worms)
  • Starchy materials – bread, pasta, rice, potatoes – all in moderation (beginners may want to avoid these altogether initially until your worms adjust)
  • Shredded newspaper, used paper towels (unbleached), cardboard (worms really love cardboard!)
  • Egg shells (best if ground up and in moderation)
  • Coffee grounds
  • Tea bags


  • Meat or dairy products
  • Oily or greasy food
  • Human/pet waste
  • Non biodegradable materials
  • Harsh chemicals

As Rochelle suggested, it works well to store your food scraps in a container in the fridge or freezer, then use those scraps to feed your worms (once or twice a week, depending on how much food waste your family produces).

Every time you feed your worms, it’s a good idea to cover the food waste with bedding materials – shredded cardboard or newspaper makes great bedding for this.  It’s a great way to use up those empty toilet paper rolls or paper towel rolls, too!

Remember:  We want to make sure that you and your worms are happy and healthy.  If you have questions about maintaining your worm bin, please don’t hesitate to contact Josh, Rochelle, or myself.  We want this to be a great experience for you, and these first few weeks of “learning” about the worm bin may be a little confusing.  Please let us know your questions — email me at cschuchhardt@bemidjistate.edu.

And most importantly:  If at any point you decide that you no longer want your worms, please do not dispose of them.  Contact us and we will find them a new home!

Some of our youngest attendees learning about red wiggler worms

Next week’s Sustainable Tuesdays is a part of BSU’s Earth Week!  Join us on Bemidji State’s campus for panel discussion on GMO Labeling! 

What exactly are GMOs, or genetically modified organisms?  How do they affect the health of our families, our farmers, and our land?  How would labeling GMOs affect consumers?

If you find yourself asking these questions, then this is the panel for you. Being an informed consumer and being able to make informed choices about what you put into your body is critical.  When it comes to the health of people and the environment, consumers need to know where their products are coming from and what is going into them — especially when it comes to food.

We are hosting a panel discussion on the labeling of genetically modified foods, with the hopes of creating community-based conversation about the issues surrounding GMOs.  This is especially relevant considering the current legislation in Minnesota’s House and Senate right now–H.F. 850 and S.F. 821, which would require the labeling of genetically modified foods.

We are not out to “take sides” on this issue, but want to foster a conversation that brings together different perspectives. At this event, we’ll have students, grocers, farmers, teachers, and consumers to talk about their perspective on GMOs and labeling.  Here’s our line-up of panelists:

  • Trevor Smith and Zane Hensel:  Trevor and Zane are two BSU students who are part of a student-led campaign to support GMO labeling.  They have been working with Right to Know Minnesota to help inform college students about their right to know what’s in their food.  You can check out this student group’s facebook page at Right To Know: MN Colleges for GMO Labeling.
  • Lisa Weiskopf: Lisa is the Fresh Foods Manager and Community Kitchen Coordinator at Harmony Foods Co-op.  She’s been employed there for 18 years and also represents the Co-op on Headwaters Food Sovereignty Council.
  • Cheryl Krystosek: Cheryl and her husband operate Chill Creek Ridge, a certified organic CSA.
  • Michael Kerr:  Michael and his family operate an organic farm and are a part of the local farmer’s market.
  • Wendy Greenberg: Wendy is a Biology professor and soil scientist at BSU
  • Jessica Saucedo:  Jessica is the co-owner of the Rail River Folk School and a consumer who likes to make informed decisions about her purchases for the health of her family.

Please join us for this panel discussion, which will take place on BSU’s campus in Hagg-Sauer 112 from 5:30 to 7:30pm.   The closest parking lot (available for public use after 5pm) is in the American Indian Resource Center lot (the round building near the football field).  Hagg-Sauer, if you haven’t been on campus before, is the building closest to the lake and next to the football field.  From the AIRC lot, follow the road to the lake and you will run right into Hagg-Sauer!  Room 112 is on the first floor.

Hope to see you there!

If you are interested in supporting clean energy, this upcoming event might be for you!  Please note that there is FREE transportation to and from the cities (all on Monday), with lunch included!

Monday, April 22nd is not only Earth Day, but a day that many citizens in Minnesota are gathering to rally for clean energy and jobs.  To learn more about the Clean Energy and Jobs Day of Action, please visit www.cleanenergyjobs.mn.

Thousands of people will be rallying at the Capitol, and if you are interested in riding a free bus to St. Paul to join them, please RSVP to lukejohnson@mepartnership.org.  Title your email “Bemidji Bus RSVP” and provide your name, phone number, and preferred time of leaving Bemdiji.  The bus is tentatively schedule to leave Bemidji at 7:30am and can stop at several places in and around town.  It will return Monday night to the John Glas Fieldhouse parking lot at BSU.

If you have questions about this event, contact Luke Johnson or Matt Norton at Minnesota Environmental Partnership: 651-290-0154.

Next week is Earth Week at BSU and there are a LOT of opportunities to get involved!

  • Saturday is the String into Spring 5K/10K Run/Walk!  9am at the Rec Center.  You could win $100 towards a pair of shoes just for plugging along!  Registration forms are available at the Rec Center or the BSU Sustainability Office.  First 100 registrants are guaranteed a t-shirt!
  • Learn more about climate change by watching the new documentary, Thin Ice: The Inside Story of Climate Science (http://thiniceclimate.org) at 7pm on Monday, April 22nd in Hagg-Sauer 100.  Here’s a brief synopsis from the website: “In recent years climate science has come under increasing attack, so geologist Simon Lamb took his camera to find out what is really going on from his climate science colleagues.”
  • If you’re interested in learning more about genetically modified foods and GMO labeling, come to Sustainable Tuesday’s panel presentation from 5:30 to 7:30pm in Hagg-Sauer 112! 
  • On Wednesday at 7pm in Hagg-Sauer 100, check out the documentary “Garbage Island” and enjoy some free popcorn!  Here’s a snippet: “Located between North America and Asia lies an island the size of Texas. This island is made up completely of human garbage: a sludge of plastic, metal, and decapitated Barbie dolls – and the island is growing. First predicted in the late 1980′s, “Garbage Island” has become a reality. An area of the Pacific Ocean has become so choked with floating garbage that ice breaker ships are often needed to travel through the area. As the human population continues to grow and expend more and more of the Earth’s resources, so too grows Garbage Island. VICE has created a fantastic documentary about the dirtiest island in history – and perhaps humanity’s legacy?”

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

  • Thursday, April 25th from 5:30 to 7:30pm, learn more about being a vegetarian!   Watch the documentary “Vegucated,” sample vegetarian food, and listen to a panel of students talk about their experiences being vegetarian on a budget.
  • Do you have old electronics you don’t need anymore?  Bring them to the E-Waste Collection event on Thursday, May 2nd from 1-6pm at Paul and Babe!  There will be a large semi-trailer and a group of BSU volunteers to help take your electronic waste off your hands, completely free of charge!  Stop by any time between 1-6pm and save yourself a trip to the transfer station.

Also coming up is a training workshop for volunteers interested in teaching others about aquatic invasive species, a special workshop offered by the DNR!

“Are you interested in becoming an Aquatic Invasive Species Volunteer? The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Northwest Region is offering volunteer training workshops for citizens interested in informing the public about aquatic invasive species (AIS) and how to slow their spread.  The training session for Bemidji has been scheduled for Saturday, April 27, 9 a.m.-noon, Northern Town Hall, 445 Town Hall Road NW, Bemidji.

Training sessions must have a minimum of 20 attendees. Anyone interested in attending a training session should contact Nathan Olson, 218-739-7576, ext. 259, or nathan.olson@state.mn.us and include contact information in case of cancellations.

Minnesota’s water resources are threatened by numerous aquatic invasive species such as zebra mussels, Eurasian watermilfoil and spiny waterfleas. These species could be easily spread within the state if citizens, businesses and visitors don’t take steps to contain them. It is illegal to transport any aquatic plants, zebra mussels, New Zealand mudsnails or other prohibited invasive species, or to launch a boat or trailer with these species attached.”

For more information on invasive species, visit http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/ais_volunteer.html

That’s all for now!  I hope that you take advantage of this weekend’s great opportunities, despite this weird snowy weather.  Don’t forget about tonight’s Pecha Kucha at the Sanford Center at 6:30pm.  There’s a big indoor garage sale happening at the Sanford Center this weekend too, and the Babe City Rollers are having a bout on Saturday night at the John Glas Fieldhouse, starting at 5pm!  Have fun!

As always, our program depends on your input and feedback, and we welcome your ideas and suggestions to broaden our community. Sustainable Tuesdays feature a variety of learning opportunities focused on sustainability that connect our beautiful, vibrant community and is a partnership program with the Indigenous Environmental Network, MN GreenCorps, Rail River Folk School and BSU’s Sustainability Office.

For more information, contact Caitlyn Schuchhardt at 755-3765 or Simone Senogles at 751-4967.

With peace,