Food Resources

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Understanding how local food systems function and how people can get involved has become a hot topic within many communities.  This page is designed to provide you with different resources for accessing and growing fresh food within the community, to help you learn and find resources about regulations for growing and distributing your own food, and to provide individuals who are experiencing food insecurity to find the resources they need.  This page also has resources for establishing native lawns and pollinator gardens to boost habitats for the creatures who help pollinate the plants and food we eat.

GROWING FOOD AND COMPOSTING

I want to start growing food in my backyard garden.  Do I need to do anything special?

Growing a backyard garden is a great way to make sure you have access to fresh and healthy food!  However, you should contact Gopher One at 811 before you start digging your garden to locate any underground utilities.

If you need some helpful tips getting started, check out this yard and gardening resource by the U of M Extension or this article by Better Homes and Gardens.

Can I start a backyard compost to recycle vegetable and fruit waste for my garden?

Yes, composting is a great way to get nutrients back into the soil and a great way to recycle food waste. 

Requirements:

  • Composting containers must be enclosed and located in the rear yard
  • Cannot exceed two hundred fifty (250) cubic feet
  • Cannot be taller than four (4) feet
  • Container must be made of durable materials, such as wood, plastic, fiberglass or metal fencing material.
  • Container must be located twenty (20) feet from residential buildings
  • Container must be located twenty (20) feet from the street on a corner lot
  • Compost must be periodically mixed to promote efficient biological deterioration.
  • Must not create a nuisance to neighboring properties

What can I put in the compost container?

Compost bins are a mix of brown and green materials and water.  Brown materials are things like leaves and twigs that are rich in carbon, and green materials are things like lawn clippings and vegetable scraps which are rich in nitrogen.  Other compostable items you should put in your compost bin include:  Yard waste, fruit and vegetable scraps, garden waste, eggshells, coffee grounds, soil, fertilizer, flowers, or small shrub trimmings or twigs (1/4 inch diameter maximum) generated from the site on which the compost site is located.

Is there anything I should not put in the compost container?

There are certain items that should never go in a compost container.  These items can attract pests, cause odors, or may contain elements that are harmful to people and plants and should never go in your compost bin:  Meat, bones, grease, whole eggs, dairy products, diseased plants, charcoal ash, and human or pet feces. 

Check out these composting tips from River Keepers or consider taking a class with them to learn how to compost.  You can also check out this composting resource from the EPA or this tip sheet from the USDA for more information about composting.

I want to garden, but I live in an apartment or my yard is too small for the size of garden I want.  Is there anywhere in the community I can garden?  

Yes, you can find many community gardens within the F-M Area.  Please contact the garden of your choice or check out Cass Clay Food Partners 'Let's Eat Local' page for more information about our local community gardens. 

I want to build a greenhouse so I can garden year-round.  Is that allowed? 

Yes, greenhouses are permitted in all residential districts.  If you are interested in building a permanent greenhouse, you will need to check your zoning to verify requirements.  Buildings over 200 sq. ft. also require a building permit and all structures must meet building code requirements.  Please contact Community Development for more information.

Can I construct a temporary structure to extend the growing season?

Yes, backyard season extenders, also called hoop houses, are similar to greenhouses, except they are temporary in nature and are typically constructed of plastic or similar temporary materials.  If the building will be up for less than 6 months it does not require a building permit.  These structures still need to meet zoning and building code setbacks.  Please contact Community Development for more information.

BUYING LOCAL FOOD

Are there any local farmers markets and how do I find out more about them?

Yes!  Moorhead is home to two farmers markets - the Moorhead Farmers Market and the Old Trail Market.  Farmers markets have closed for 2020.  Please contact the farmers markets for more information about 2021 dates.

There are also lots of farmers markets in Fargo and West Fargo to visit.  Here's a list of F-M Area Farmers Markets.  You can also check out Cass Clay Food Partners resources for more on local Farmers Markets from the 'Let's Eat Local' page. 

Can I purchase food through community supported agriculture (CSA)?

Yes!  Community supported agriculture is a crop sharing membership program that allows people to buy food directly from farmers.  Members share the risk with the farmers by purchasing a share of the farms production before harvest and in return members receive regular food distributions.  Here's a list of F-M Area CSAs.  Foods available vary depending on the season and farmer.    

SELLING FOOD

I want to sell some of the food that I grow and make.  Am I allowed to? 

Yes, Minnesota Laws allow people to sell foods that are considered Cottage FoodsCottage Foods are items that are baked, canned, pickled, and other low-risk foods (foods with a pH of 4.6 or lower) that are sold directly to consumers without a commercial kitchen.  Cottage foods are typically sold at farmers markets.

If you are interested in getting started in selling your own food or would like more information, check out MN Cottage Food Laws from the MN Department of Agriculture.

I want to sell my home-grown food, but don’t want to sell at a farmers market.  Can I sell it from my home?

Yes, however it may require a Home Occupational Permit.  Please contact Planning and Zoning for more information.

FOOD SECURITY

What does it mean to be food secure or insecure?

Being food secure means that you are able to consistently access affordable and healthy food or do not need to worry where your next meal will come from.  While being food insecure means you are unable to consistently access affordable healthy food and may be worried where your next meal will come from. 

I’m experiencing food insecurity and need help finding a food pantry.  Where can I go?

There are many places in the F-M Area where you can get help from food pantries.  Here's a list of F-M Area Food Pantries.

I'm experiencing food insecurity and need a meal.  Is there anywhere I can go?

Yes!  There are places in the F-M area where you can get a meal from.  Here's a list of F-M Area Soup Kitchens.

I grew a garden, but it’s way too much.  Are there places I can donate my excess food?

Yes!  Many local food pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters will gladly take any excess food you have.  Make sure to contact these places ahead of your donation to find out about any rules or drop off times these places may have.

CULTURAL FOOD OPPORTUNITIES

I'm an immigrant to the United States and am having a hard time finding foods that I have traditionally used.  Is there anywhere I can buy foods that are part of my culture?

Yes!  Fargo-Moorhead has lots of cultural grocery stores which will hopefully allow you to find foods that are part of your culture.  Check out this list of F-M Area Cultural Grocery Stores

SUPPORTING POLLINATORS

What is a natural lawn/pollinator garden?   

Natural lawns and pollinator gardens are gardens that convert your lawn from the traditional grass turf to a lawn/garden designed with native plants to increase pollinator habitats. 

I want to do something to help promote pollinators.  Can I convert my lawn into a natural lawn/pollinator garden?

Yes you can! There are many benefits to converting your lawn into a natural lawn/pollinator garden.  If you are interested in having a natural lawn/pollinator garden that allows for growth to exceed eight (8) inches in height or convert more than 30% of your lawn, a native landscaping permit is required.  Please check out the following requirements and contact us with any questions.

Requirements: 

  • Put together a land management plan
  • Plantings cannot exceed twenty-four (24) inches in height or eighteen (18) inches on a corner.
  • Must continue to maintain plantings by clearing invasive species, clearing debris, and removing/replacing dead plants.
  • Plants cannot encroach or overhang on the sidewalk or right-of-way.
  • Inventory of all plants to be planted

 Land management plan requirements:

  • Legal description of the lawn upon which the grass and other growth will exceed eight (8) inches in length
  • A statement of intent and purpose for the lawn
  • General description of the vegetation types, plants, and plant succession involved, and the specific management and maintenance techniques to be employed.
  • Include provisions for cutting at a length not greater than eight (8) inches the berm area, that portion between the sidewalk and the street or a strip not less than fifteen (15) feet adjacent to the street where there is no sidewalk and a strip not less than four (4) feet adjacent to neighboring property lines unless either waived by the abutting property owner on the side so affected, or by permitted boulevard plantings or rain gardens.
  • Mail or give a copy of the application to neighbors within two hundred (200) feet.
  • Certify that you have distributed copies of the application to all affected neighbors. 

Check out the MN Board of Water and Soil for their pollinator toolbox or the U of M Extension for more ideas or to learn about the benefits of native plants and landscaping.

I would like to plant something in the boulevard.  Am I allowed?

Yes, boulevard plantings are allowed but they require a boulevard planting permit from the Engineering Department.  Please also know that if the City or a utility company need to dig within the boulevard, the boulevard will only be restored to the condition it was in prior to any planting.

Requirements:

  • Plantings cannot exceed twenty-four (24) inches in height or eighteen (18) inches on a corner.
  • Double-shredded hardwood mulch must be used around the plantings to prevent soil erosion.
  • Mulch height must be one (1) inch below the curb level.
  • Must continue to maintain boulevard plantings by clearing invasive species, clearing debris, and removing/replacing dead plants.
  • Plants cannot encroach or overhang on the sidewalk or right-of-way.
  • Plants must be able to tolerate salt and snow storage.
  • Must call Gopher One at 811 at least 48 hours before digging to locate utilities.
  • Inventory of all plants to be planted