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A Visit to the Urban Greens Market

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Words and photos by Kyle Strayer

“We Grow Gardeners” is painted inside the vividly decorated and modified school bus that houses the mobile Urban Greens Market part of the time. This slogan is apt for the market, considering the intentions of the organizations which have allowed it to prosper.

I took a visit to the Market last week, to learn more about the organizations that run it and where all this great food is coming from.  (Reminder, you can find the weekly schedule here),

The Urban Greens Market is program overseen by Salt Lake City’s Sustainability Department in partnership with the local non-profits Green Urban Lunch Box, Real Food Rising, (a project of Utah Community Action), and Utahns Against Hunger.

Its goal is to provide affordable, fresh produce in areas along the west side of Salt Lake City, which are classified as food deserts by the USDA.

Each of the non-profit partners have slightly different missions but are coming together to rejuvenate farming for the next generation, and provide access to healthy food for more people.

For The Green Urban Lunch Box, the issue is our dwindling supply of farmers. With only 9 percent of farmers in Utah under the age of 35, the need for new farmers is greater than ever.

They’re addressing this gap by providing a farmer training program, with 24 garden spaces around Salt Lake City. Many of these gardens are located in the revitalized backyards of seniors, manned by garden apprentices in the training program.  Another source of the local produce for the Urban Greens Market comes from Salt Lake City’s FruitShare program with over 1, 400 registered trees across the Wasatch Front. Owners of fruit trees donate their excess produce and volunteers harvest what would have otherwise gone to waste.

Finally, the Urban Greens Market also gets its produce from Real Food Rising’s local farm.  This organization  works with youth across the area to learn hands-on skills related to organic farming, water usage, and sustainability. They also learn job-training skills.  All to serve the mission of alleviating hunger in our community.

I visited the market on a Friday at the Sherwood Park location when The Green Urban Lunchbox’s bus was in rotation as the farm stand (it alternates with the table-and-tent set-up by Real Food Rising on other days).

The bus is hard to miss– it’s a full-length school bus retrofitted into a pop up market stand. Colorfully painted, with a skylight ceiling and garden beds in the place of seats, the bus is bursting with the atmosphere of a mini farmer’s market.

Stepping on-board, I was encouraged to try out some of the smaller produce items like grapes and cherries as I strolled through, inspecting the selection. The amount of produce for sale is shocking, considering the majority of it is grown right here in Salt Lake City.

The price is unbeatable for pristine organic foods.  I picked up 2 avocado at $1 each, 5 limes for $1 and two handful of pears for a grand total of $4.50!

Payment is easy as the market takes cash, credit card and all locations will accept SNAP/EBT and Double Up Food Bucks. One of the goals of the market is to be extremely accessible to the surrounding community to increase the demand for locally-grown foods. The goal is to one day expand from just a mobile market, to a full on farmer’s market that becomes a regular commerce place for the community and a permanent solution to the food deserts in the Glendale and Poplar Grove areas.

For this to happen, the Urban Greens Market will need support of the community. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to go check it out! The schedule can be found here or simply text “MARKET” to 51555 for updates.  SLCgreen is currently doing a promotion for the market; bring a friend or sign up for the text message alerts to receive a free Urban Greens tote bag!

See you there!

U.S. Senator Visits SLC to Discuss Climate Change Action

 

This week, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a U.S. Senator from Rhode Island, visited with SLCgreen staff, Mayor Jackie Biskupski and community members to discuss collective action on climate change.

Senator Whitehouse is a leading advocate for climate action in the Senate.  As a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and co-founder of the Senate Climate Action Task Force, he is at the heart of the policy discussions being had on this issue at our nation’s capital.  He’s also promoting solutions.

He introduced legislation to put a fee on carbon, establishing a market incentive to reduce emissions while generating substantial revenue to be returned to the American people.

This week, Sen. Whitehouse came to Utah to see how climate change is affecting our environment and economy, impacting everything from our water supply to our $1 billion ski industry. At a round table on Tuesday, he met with City  leaders to learn more, as well as to discuss SLC’s recent Climate Positive initiative and Joint Resolution which was introduced on July 12, 2016.

Sen. Whitehouse talks with Salt Lake City Sustainability Director Vicki Bennett

Sen. Whitehouse meets with Salt Lake City Sustainability Director Vicki Bennett. Photo credit: Jeri Gravlin

“Salt Lake City’s leaders get that climate change is real and already having an effect on their city,” said Sen. Whitehouse. 

Read more

Taking Action on Toxic Chemicals

 

Salt Lake City recently hosted a visit with a program director from the Healthy Babies, Bright Futures (HBBF) program to continue our work as a member of the “Bright Cities” cohort.

Heidi Gerbracht, Bright Cities National Program Director, joined us in mid-July to meet with Mayor Jackie Biskupski, department heads, and several community organizations & agencies, to begin assessing the current risks, priorities and opportunities related to neurotoxic chemical exposures in our City.

Mayor Biskupski meets with Heidi Gerbracht, Bright Cities National Program Director.

Mayor Biskupski meets with Heidi Gerbracht, Bright Cities National Program Director.

Next steps include engaging in a public process to educate the community, as well as creating a final plan to reduce or eliminate the impact of these dangerous chemicals on babies’ brains.

This work can’t come soon enough.

Read more

Fall Internship Available with SLCgreen!

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SLCgreen is looking for several motivated, passionate students to join our Fall 2016 internship program. Interested in learning how local government plays an important role in ensuring the environmental health of our community?

Find out more information and how to apply:

2016 Fall Internship Description

 

Normal curbside waste collection on Monday, July 25th

Memorial Day collection final

Mayor Biskupski Recognizes Business Leadership Enhancing the Salt Lake City Economy and Cutting Pollution

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“Head of the class.” “Leaders.” “Innovators.”  They’re called many things.  At Salt Lake City, we call the building owners that go above-and-beyond to cut emissions our “Mayor’s Skyline Challenge Winners”, and it is our pleasure to introduce you to them.

Launched in May 2014, the multi-year Mayor’s Skyline Challenge encourages building owners across Salt Lake City to proactively improve the energy performance of their buildings, reducing emissions and saving money.  On July 15, Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski joined business and community leaders to honor the four winners of the second annual Mayor’s Skyline Challenge Awards for their leadership in Project Skyline over the past year.


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170 South Main: Industry Leader

The team from Cushman Wakefield/Commerce has implemented a suite of diverse and effective energy management practices, making them a leader in the industry for reducing energy consumption.  Their energy-cutting strategies over the past year included: installing CO2 sensors to minimize air intake that requires heating or cooling; installing motion sensors for lighting; and adjusting HVAC settings for unoccupied spaces in the building. In addition to energy efficiency projects implemented in the building itself, building management created an energy efficiency competition between each floor of the building!


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Intermountain Healthcare: Community Leadership

Since the Mayor’s Skyline Challenge launched in 2014, Intermountain Healthcare has been at the head of the class.  The company’s energy management practices include commissioning throughout the lifecycle of all its buildings, energy efficiency design standards for all design and construction projects, and training their facilities staff on energy management best practices.  IHC also benchmarks 70 of its facilities in the U.S. EPA ENERGY STAR program’s free Portfolio Manager software.


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Rocky Mountain Power: Energy Benchmarking Champion

Information is power, and Rocky Mountain Power just empowered Utah building owners in a big way! According to the ENERGY STAR program, the average commercial building wastes 30% of the energy it consumes through inefficient operations and technologies. Measuring, or benchmarking energy use, is a critical step in saving energy by empowering building and facility managers with information about their building’s energy performance. In Utah, the once arduous process of benchmarking is now streamlined and automated thanks to Rocky Mountain’s Resource Advisor, a fully-functioning whole-building automated data service developed in partnership with Salt Lake City.


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Wingcrest: Most Improved Energy Performance

The Wingcrest office building is a 129,000 square foot office space offering a major carrot for prospective tenants – low energy costs.  The property managers have taken the Energy Star rated building to the next level by achieving huge energy savings on the property by completing in-depth energy retrofits. An HVAC control system was installed to monitor the boiling system, air handling units, VAV boxes, and roof exhaust fans. Wingcrest also optimized the combustion efficiency of the boiler, completed an LED-retrofitting project, and added occupancy sensor switches to high-impact areas such as common rooms and offices.  By the end of this top-to-bottom retrofit, Wingcrest saw a significant 30-point improvement in the building’s Energy Star score!


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Project Skyline Team and Joan Card, Policy Advisory, EPA Region 8

The Mayor’s Skyline Challenge is part of Salt Lake City’s Project Skyline initiative, an effort to increase energy efficiency of large buildings across Salt Lake City to help achieve the City’s energy, climate, and air quality goals. The initiative is also supported by the City Energy Project, a national initiative of 10 major American cities to cut energy waste in large buildings and make American cities healthier and more prosperous. The third round of the Mayor’s Skyline Challenge will open in the fall of 2016.

 

Salt Lake City Launches Ambitious New Climate Plan

 

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Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski and City Council have committed to a Joint Resolution to transition the community to 100 percent renewable electricity sources by 2032 and an 80 percent  reduction in carbon emissions by 2040.

The Mayor and City Councilmember Erin Mendenhall were joined by other City leaders and community members on the steps of the City and County Building today to announce the resolution.

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“This is the most ambitious step ever taken by Salt Lake City to address the threat of climate change,” said Mayor Biskupski.  “This commitment places the City among leading communities worldwide that acknowledge our responsibility to rapidly reduce emissions and forge a new path forward that protects our economies, societies and overall human well-being.”

Salt Lake City had previously committed to 100 percent renewable electricity sources for its government operations, along with major carbon reductions for City operations, but this resolution expands the scope to include all electricity and emissions on a community scale.

The Joint Resolution cited the scientific consensus that climate change is occurring and being driven by the burning of fossil fuels.  The Resolution also acknowledged local impacts such as changes in water systems and extreme weather events that are affecting Salt Lake City now and will be exacerbated in the future.

“We can tackle this challenge and deliver clean energy solutions that will simultaneously improve air quality, protect public health and deliver local jobs.  Leading on climate change today is an obligation we all share with each other and to future generations,” stated Mayor Biskupski.

Visit www.slcgreen.com/climatepositive for more information about the plan.

See the full Carbon Reduction Joint Resolution here.

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