What is Whole Health Pine River-Backus?

If you want to help support programs like these, please go to our page on the Give to the Max Day website.

Happy Dancing Turtle and our community partners (UMN SNAP-ed, Pine River-Backus Family Center, St. Joseph Foundation) address a big problem with this modest program, Whole Health Pine River-Backus.

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Dave picking strawberries for the CSA shares.

Food insecurity and poor health due to improper nutrition are concerns all across the country.Out of the 87 Minnesota counties, Cass County ranks at 84 for overall health factors and 85 for social and economic factors, according to the 2016 data from countyhealthrankings.org. The Whole Health PRB program strives to bridge the nutrition gap for low-income or otherwise food insecure families and individuals by providing fresh produce and nutrition education.

Food & Water Security Coordinator at HDT, Jim Chamberlin said, “This program helps make that connection between food and health and makes it more clear that healthy food influences human wellness.”

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The HDT Garden Crew had to be meticulously organized keep shares large and on time.

Happy Dancing Turtle provides a weekly CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share full of fresh and healthy produce from our 2 acre holistic demonstration garden. Participants attend SNAP-ed cooking classes to learn how to cook and incorporate the vegetables into meals. Each CSA share also has a newsletter with recipes and detailed information about the vegetables in the bag for those unfamiliar with the produce.

The Pine River Backus Family Center provides a valuable role in connecting with the program participants and helping distribute the CSA shares. Whole Health PRB is still a fairly new program, in it’s second year, however we hope in the coming years to expand our reach and effectiveness by increasing capacity and program option.

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Allison R. Whole Health Coordinator

Whole Health Program Coordinator, Allison Rian. said, “I know I’m concerned with what I’m feeding my own kids, what they’re eating daily. But, above all, I think that proper food skills and wanting to use healthy food is all about access.”

Rian continues, “Skill-building is a big part of our program, because our generation is having to relearn some of these basic skills that have been forgotten.”

Currently, we are expanding the program to include a winter program that allows one CSA share a month. There will also be a monthly get-together that will instruct participants on how to properly prepare and serve the produce included in the shares.

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Sustainably Back to School – College Edition

While the heat of summer wanes, for many, the thought of school just around the corner hammers our nerves and sense of freedom even more. So, why not make the most of it? Look forward to that new year of classes. Now add to that a hint of green thinking, and it might just be the best school year ever!

Let’s focus our sustainable minds on the products college students need. To make sure life in the dorms is as comfortable and efficient as possible, there are a few key areas to address: technology, clothing and school supplies.

Technology

Unlike the school days on campus that your parents reminiscent over (perhaps way too frequently for your taste), today’s supplies include some high-tech gear. While laptop computers, cell phones and tablets are energy sinks, they do offer some sustainable benefits. Most notably, these products are eco-friendly in that their existence makes other products unnecessary.

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Working at a desktop can be less expensive. You definitely lose the mobility, though.

One can take an endless amount of notes in class, thus limiting the necessity for notebooks. The fewer notebooks used, the fewer trees cut down. And, if you want to take it one step further, read how to find the most energy-efficient laptops.

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3R’s for Sustainable Clothes Shopping

With the start of school comes (another unsuccessful) football season, new (successful) teachers and a(n overwhelmingly long) back-to-school shopping list. Before darting out to the store to pick up new clothing and supplies, take a moment to revisit the 3Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle.

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Just like you do with your garbage, you can utilize the 3 R’s for your school clothing.

Because you’ve taken to heart the rules of our 3R’s video, you already use the 3Rs on a daily basis. Decisions about back-to-school clothing provide the perfect opportunity to put the 3Rs to work and step up the sustainability in your household!

• Reduce – Rummage through your kids’ closets and see what you have on hand. The greenest back-to-school clothes are the ones you already have! Make a list of items you already own and only purchase what’s needed.

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Back to School Shopping: Big vs. Small

I don’t know if you readers know this, but I have six kids, aged 19 years all the way down to 6 years. Five of them are going to be in school this year. Along with the transition from summer to school bedtimes, my wife and I are trying to find creative ways to get our (younger) children ready for school. We even thought of back to school essays, (What I’m looking forward to most this upcoming school year), but we think there may be a small riot.

We are lucky, however, that every grade sends each student’s family a handy-dandy supply list. One thing that stood out was the need for not only single subject notebooks, but also composition notebooks and loose leaf paper. I thought we were going to a paperless society. (Not soon enough, it would seem!)

 

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You’ll probably find exactly what you need in the big box stores, but do you REALLY need it?

Looking at these lists, they don’t say to go directly to Target/Walmart/BigBoxStore. No, they leave where you get these supplies up to you and you have to make decisions based on what your goals are. Do you want to get your list checked off as inexpensively as possible, or do you shop with sustainability in mind?

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Turtle Treks Done For the Summer

Our last Turtle Trek took place last night right here in Pine River. At Forbes Park, six girls and five boys in grades 2-4 were able to experience the great outdoors before school starts next week. The day was filled with outdoor games, swimming, campfire vittles, and even spooky stories. Thanks for all the memories and fun. We’re sure to look at more camping adventures next year.

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Nothing but smiles for our little (and big) campers.

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Two boys about to get wet.

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Be careful for trolls under this bridge!

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Last-Second Summer

With only two (2!) weeks of summer vacation left before school starts there are only so many days left to pack any last-second activities. Let’s go over your checklist:

  • Did you ride the trail like you said you would? With long paved trails and world class well-groomed hill trails in the area, there is no excuse.
  • Did you eat a tomato fresh from the vine like you said you would? It’s the perfect time to grab one from your neighbor’s garden. Or if you want to be more neighborly, go to your local farmer’s market.
  • Did you go to that summer concert like you said you would? This weekend is the Lakes Bluegrass Festival in Pine River. It’s the 12th year that top bluegrass bands converge on our tiny town.
  • Did you venture into the woods and have an outdoor experience like you said you would? If you haven’t pulled the trigger on your camping adventure, there are hundreds of locations across the state. If you’re still unsure of the whole camping thing, we’re offering our last Turtle Trek adventure of the summer THIS MONDAY NIGHT!
  • Did you grill up that unbelievable recipe you saw online like you said you would? I don’t have any awesome grill recipes for you here. I was kind of hoping you would drop one on me so could use it. What’s your secret, go-to recipe?

What other adventures are up for you this week? Labor Day is the weekend after next. It pretty much marks the end of summer. So, make use of your time left. The days only get shorter and the wind blows colder from here on out.

Sustainable School Lunches

With six kids, I understand that it is infinitely easier to let your child eat a hot lunch prepared by the hard-working cafeteria folk. For the most part, the lunch that your school district offers is tasty, well-balanced, and cost-effective. However, if you want to and have the time to make your child their very own lunch, why not make it the sustainable way?

We’ve put together a quick list of how you can make your child’s lunch both delicious AND better for the environment.

Reach for reusable sandwich bags and containers

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On a related note, there’s no need for single-use plastic sandwich bags. Instead, consider a waxed fabric sandwich bag, or one of the many reusable lunch containers on the market. From bento boxes to tiffins, there are loads of choices, although glass jars may be a bit too breakable for some kids. Here’s a collection of some plastic-free lunch containers (from Treehugger).

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Turtle Treks To Finish the Summer in Pine River

After two successful camping trips to Lake Bemidji and the North Shore,  the Stewardship & Sustainability gals are focusing on one more overnight trip, albeit a lot more close to home.

On Monday, August 28, your 2nd-4th grader will be able to join in the fun at Forbes Park, right here in Pine River. We’ll be organizing games and swimming ventures, showcasing camping skills, and whipping together a real campfire dinner.

We’ll tell campfire stories and sleep under the stars. In the morning we’ll cook a real outdoors breakfast, break down camp, and send the kids home. This is a perfect opportunity for those unsure of camping. Who know’s, they may become campers for life!

Plus, where our last two overnights were for girls only, this Trek is for everyone! You can register online or download the printable registration form.

Here’s a look at some of the fun the last two Treks had this summer:

Lake Bemidji

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We played Hide N Seek…poorly.

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