Shared Gifting Circle Supports Food Charter Implementation in Minnesota

On May 4th, 2017, twenty Extension staff and community partners met to participate in a shared gifting circle, an innovative approach to participatory grantmaking pioneered by RSF Social Finance. During the process, grant recipients collectively determined how $36,000 would be allocated amongst their proposed “action projects.” The circle was part of an Issue Area grant-funded project intended to build capacity across Extension and communities in Minnesota to implement the Minnesota Food Charter, a roadmap to create a healthier food system. Attendees of the meeting included a Leadership Team and Action Cohort from Extension, community partners from around Minnesota, Kelley Buhles from RSF Social Finance, and Dr. Syed Shariq from Stanford University. The representatives of the Action Cohort collectively allocated $36,000 to their ten action projects as follows:

Crow River Food Council Food Systems Development – $3,636.25

  • Rod Greder (Extension – Consumer Horticulture and Agriculture and Connie Carlson (Crow River Food Council)
  • Promote a matchmaking framework to link producers with institutional food buyers through a series of educational events and provision of food distribution supplies
  • Supports food availability and food infrastructure strategies from the MN Food Charter

Growing Youth Horticulture Education – $3,859.97

  • Julie Weisenhorn (Extension – Horticulture) and Nic Jelinski (University of Minnesota Soil Science)
  • Enhance gardening skills in the Twin Cities through educational programs related to soil health and pollinators
  • Supports food skills strategies from the MN Food Charter

Increasing Youth Opportunities for Food Access and Food Skills– $3,200.00

  • Kelsey Wulf (Extension – 4H and Masters Gardeners)
  • Partner with four communities in East Otter Tail County to increase hands-on experiences for youth and adults focused on foundation food skills and healthy food access
  • Supports food skills and food availability strategies from the MN Food Charter

Local Food Buyer Podcast Series $3,045.67

  • Jake Overgaard (Extension – Ag Production Systems)
  • Utilize technology to provide farmers with information to help them better market their products and increase profitability
  • Supports food infrastructure strategies from the MN Food Charter

Local Harvest Market Co $3,300.00

  • Robin Trott (Extension – Horticulture) and Sylvia Luetmer (Local Harvest Market Co)
  • Help farmers reach new markets through Local Harvest Market food hub by increasing technical assistance opportunities and strengthening community connections
  • Supports food infrastructure strategies from the MN Food Charter Minonjigewin (Someone is eating

Minonjigewin (Someone is eating good) $4,982.37

  • Shirley Nordrum (Extension – Water Resource Management) and Yvonne Hardy (Leech Lake Community)
  • Produce educational videos and host events to improve Anishinaabeg knowledge of traditional Ojibwe food systems and skills in harvesting, cooking, and storage
  • Supports food skills and food infrastructure strategies from the MN Food Charter

Pierz Cooking Demos $4,000.00

  • Molly Zins (Extension – Regional Sustainable Development Partnership) and Jill and Allen Dahmen (Pierz Grocery)
  • Build on the “Pierz eats produce” campaign to support a series of cooking demonstrations at the family owned grocery store in Pierz, MN
  • Supports food skills strategies from the MN Food Charter

Stone’s Throw Urban Farm Case Study $3,450.47

  • Karl Hakanson (Extension – Agriculture) and Caroline Devaney (Stone’s Throw Urban Farm)
  • Document the formation, goals, and accomplishments of Stone’s Throw Urban Farm and implement the equitable transition of parcels of land owned or managed by the farm
  • Supports food availability and food infrastructure strategies from the MN Food Charter

Fond du Lac Food Trailer $3,671.21

  • Nikki Crowe (Extension – Fond du Lac Tribal College) and Jamie Adams (Fond du Lac Band of Chippewa Economic Development)
  • Upgrade a food trailer owned by the tribe in order to bring it up to code so that it may be used to prepare meals primarily made with ingredients that are grown or harvested locally
  • Supports food infrastructure strategies from the MN Food Charter

Morgan Park Community Club $2,850.00

  • John Bennet (Extension – Community Economics)
  • Promote grocery store access in the Morgan Park neighborhood in Duluth
  • Supports food accessibility strategies from the MN Food Charter

According to evaluation feedback, the shared gifting process was valuable to the group because it helped strengthen connections between projects and fostered a sense of accountability and reciprocal investment in one another’s work. Action projects will be implemented by December 31, 2017, and will be followed by a final team gathering to share outcomes, evaluate impact, and celebrate our work together.

The shared gifting circle on May 4th is part of a broader effort by University of Minnesota Extension to support the innovative group dynamic cultivated by collaborative grantmaking models. These efforts have also included an online democratic process used in the February 2017 to allocate Capacity Building Funds for food networks in Minnesota who attended the Convening of Food Network Leaders. University of Minnesota Extension is currently seeking funding to support a shared gifting circle for the 2nd Convening of Food Network Leaders that will be held in the fall of 2018.

Contact Noelle Harden with any questions/comments or to learn more about any of the action projects:, 218-280-5253