If you want to be in the know about what’s going on at our organization, you’ve come to the right place.
Be sure to check back regularly to get our latest news updates.
We recently sat down with Alex Ek, co-owner, with his brother Justin Ek, of the new gift shop 108 Alchemy. 108 Alchemy features works by local makers and artists, highlighting the diversity of talent that can be found in the Greater Mankato Area.
LEC: Can you tell us where the name 108 Alchemy came from?
AE: We occupy the address 108/110 East Washington and the number 108 spoke to us more. The alchemy part represents the making, mixing, experimenting, and alchemizing raw materials into “gold.” It represents the long processes our artists and makers go through to create the products sold in our store
A grant of $20,000 has been awarded by the Otto Bremer Trust (OBT) Foundation to the Living Earth Center (LEC) for general operations towards their mission to grow resilient communities by cultivating healthy food and fostering relationships.
Living Earth Center is pleased to announce that long-time volunteer, Melissa Martensen has joined our staff as the Finance and Communications Manager. Martensen has been involved with LEC for over 10 years in various volunteer capacities, and has just finished a term as Board Treasurer.
Living Earth Center held its first in person Open Mic Night since the beginning of the pandemic in the Community Garden on Sunday, June 26th. Eleven performers shared music, dance, poetry, and other writings with a crowd of more than 30 people.
LEC is pleased to announce that we have filled two new seasonal staff positions. The first is Sabrina Mercedes, our new Volunteer and Strategic Partnerships Coordinator. Sabrina will work closely with Farm Manager Abbey Dickhudt to organize volunteer opportunities (both individual and group) at the Community Farm.
The second is Madison Vandersee, our new Program Coordinator. Madison will work closely with Program Manager Amy Hunt to organize LEC's myriad summer programs. We are excited for the new energy and insight they will bring to Living Earth Center and are looking forward to working with them both.
LEC's Poet Laureate Esther Marcella Hoffmann has composed a poem for spring entitled "Is It Really Us, Spring?"
Click on title above to read the full poem.
Living Earth Center is excited to announce we have filled our two seasonal manager positions for the 2022 growing season. Mallory Murphy has been hired as our Community Garden Manager and Abbey Dickhudt has been hired as our Community Farm Manager. We are looking forward to working with both of them this garden season.
I hope this message finds you well. Last year, it was announced that the School Sisters of Notre Dame would be divesting their property at Our Lady of Good Counsel. Recently, the announcement came that a potential buyer of the property has been identified and the sisters would be relocating to Shakopee, MN. SSND founded the Good Counsel campus in 1912 and have deep roots within the Minnesota River Valley. While the news was anticipated, it isn't easier to think of the incredible loss this community will feel with their departure.
Many have asked what this means for the Living Earth Center and its Community Garden. Since our humble beginnings, we have known
Living Earth Center has published its Annual Report for the 2020 2021 fiscal year.
As we begin 2022, we at Living Earth Center continue to adapt to an ever changing landscape with different challenges and growth opportunities. The past two years have not been easy, but LEC is committed to facing the future with hope and resiliency, bolstered in no small part by the support of the community around us...
In big red letters across the back of the book it says, "Featuring more than 90 recipes reflecting Minnesota's revered farm-to-table values," and the inside of the book lives up to the claim. Over 250 pages of recipes and beautiful photographs (of food, the farms it was grown upon, and the people who grew it) make The Farmer and the Chef a treat to look through even before attempting to make any of the recipes...
When the high winds and cold temps forced us to make the last minute decision to move our Winter Solstice Celebration from the Hill to online we were so glad that our Poet Laureate, Esther Marcella Hoffmann, was still able to join us virtually to share the new poem she wrote in honor of Winter Solstice.
The poem, entitled "Bless This Night With Breath," can be read below...
Living Earth Center is thrilled to announce our first ever Winter Reading Series! January - March we will meet online to discuss each month's chosen book. You can join for as many or as few discussions as you would like.
We are excited to announce the reading lineup...
On November 6th over 80 people gathered virtually for Living Earth Center's 16th Annual Earth Conference, The New Normal: Intentionally Designing Your Future. They explored what, amidst all we have lost for the past year and a half, have we gained, and how can we use that hard-earned knowledge to move forward in an intentional way.
The three conference speakers examined this question through three different lenses - our relationship with Earth, with Each Other, and with Ourselves.
"I do believe that healing is in the environment," said opening speaker Robert Blake.
Motivated by the belief that the needle is not just an artistic medium but a tool for advocacy as well, Bring Up Banner Project leads conversations and art making inspired by our current world. Creating and making banners is a way for community members to resist what is happening in the United States and in the world, cultivating silent protesting in a safe and positive way.
Many have come forward to ask questions regarding the future of the Living Earth Community Garden located on the School Sisters of Notre Dame Good Counsel Campus. We would like to thank all who have supported Living Earth Center and previously Center for Earth Spirituality and Rural Ministry throughout the years for their continued concern. We are working with SSND to do everything we can to keep the Community Garden at its current location while also reviewing options of moving the Garden to a different space.
While no decisions have been made, we can say with certainty that Living Earth Center was founded as a non-profit with a long term vision in mind.
This October, Mankato Fair Trade is celebrating the 10th anniversary of Mankato being a Fair Trade Town!
Mankato Fair Trade has planned a month-long celebration! There will be a fair trade Facebook contest with prizes, a series of bazaars at four different churches, a movie night and a talk at MNSU.
I have a bumper crop of butternut squash this year and so have been on the lookout for new recipes to give a try. I wasn't sure if butternut squash pie was an actual thing (I was prepared to just sub it for pumpkin if necessary) but it turns out it totally *is* a thing! And there's a reason for that - it is quite tasty!
We are still needing some help to get the Farm ready for Winter!
Join us this weekend out at the Community Farm to help with final harvesting, fall clean up, and planting garlic and spring bulbs!!
A Sustainability Fair will take place at First Congregational UCC Church, 150 Stadium Court, Mankato (outdoors) Saturday, September 25 from 1:00 to 3:00. Come and learn about Beekeeping, backyard composting, organics recycling, organic gardening and farming, butterfly gardens, sustainable hygiene products, water quality, renewable energy and more.
A HUGE thank you to everyone who donated to our 2021 Give to Grow Mankato Campaign!
We are blessed to be a part of such a generous and supportive community, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts!
Early Thursday morning fresh, organic produce, grown at the Living Earth Center Community Farm and Gardens, was delivered to FOCP for distribution in their monthly Summer Pack Food Program boxes. A mixture of tomatoes, potatoes, squash, cabbage, eggplant, and other veggies were packed into produce bags to be added to the shelf stable food FOCP already provides.
“We are in the business of growing food,” said Living Earth Center Executive Director Laura Peterson. “And FOCP is in the business of distributing food. It is a mutually beneficial partnership
As we are nearing the Aug. 22 end date for our 2021 Give to Grow Mankato Campaign, we are again reaching out to your our supporters to ask, if you have not already, to please make a donation today to support LEC's work in our community.
We are working on the ground, and sometimes *in* the ground, in the Mankato area to provide fresh, organic produce for our community partners, ECHO Food Shelf, FOCP Backpack Food Program, and Partners for Affordable Housing.
Thanks to CESRM co-founder Sister Mary Tacheny, LEC was given access to early issues of Earth Almanac (from our founding in 1996 through 2003) and even a look at the work that went into forming CESRM with 9 issues of The Rural Project Review from 1995.
All archived issues can be found in the Earth Almanac Archives section of our website (click here). We encourage you to browse through them, they showcase how deep LEC's roots are. Spelled out on the pages is the SSND commitment to sustainable living and Right Relations with Earth.
We will highlight just a few issues here...
Saturday, November 6th - save the date for the 16th Annual Earth Conference, The New Normal: Intentionally Designing Our Future.
Join us in a thoughtful conversation where we ask ourselves: amidst all we lost during the pandemic, what did we gain? How can we take what we learned over the past 18 months and use it to intentionally shape our future?
Taken from the "high-summer herbs" section of the cookbook In Season by Sarah Raven, this recipe is a great way to use up a bumper crop of basil. On those hot July evenings what could be better than some cool and refreshing basil ice cream?!?
Read on for the recipe....
A generous donor has offered a matching gift challenge, up to $1,000 for the month of July!
Your donation today will DOUBLE in value!!
Saturday, August 21st from 5-7pm.
Mark your calendars!!
Our Annual Community Picnic is morphing into a Community Concert!
Every non-rainy Friday at 9am Mankato-area veterans come to the Community Gardens for coffee and gardening.
The program is in partnership with Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans (MACV) and Southern Agricultural Center of Excellence. And is open to any veterans in the area.
MACV Case Manager Mark Bullen said the program has two intended outcomes, "First, we wanted to introduce veterans on a very basic level, the opportunity to learn about planting and the agricultural process. We want to allow veterans the opportunity to see what a different career path might look like...
A dementia-friendly garden was a long-time dream of the Mankato and North Mankato ACT on Alzheimer’s action team (the ACT Team). In 2019, with the partnership of Sandi Lubrant, chairperson for the ACT Team, Laura Peterson, Director for the Living Earth Center, and two faculty from Minnesota State University Mankato, the Garden EngAGEment program, a dementia-friendly garden became a reality. Faculty members Drs. Kristen Abbott-Anderson (School of Nursing), Sheen Chiou (Communication Sciences and Disorders), along with Laura Peterson used guidelines developed by dementia-friendly gardens in the United Kingdom to carefully design the garden layout...
We are a little over a quarter of the way through our 2021 Give to Grow Mankato Campaign!
Living Earth Center has been busier than ever this past month - the Gardens are operating at full capacity, small groups (like the MACV Veterans Garden Group which meets up at the Gardens every Friday at 9am for coffee and gardening) and small classes (5 children attended our Magic of Seeds class last week, up on the Hill, and got to plant seeds in the Kids' Garden) have started meeting in person again!
LEC, our Community Garden and the Community Farm were featured in a MPR news story that aired Friday, May 21st
To celebrate both Earth Day and the start of their second annual Give to Grow Mankato Campaign, LEC hosted a virtual Open Mic Night Thursday, April 22. Local performers submitted videos of a wide variety of performances: music, poetry, and bellydance...
My youngest daughter received If You Come to Earth by Sophie Blackall as a Christmas gift and it has been on heavy rotation in our reading list since. The book has both a beautiful message and beautiful illustrations. It is written as a letter from a young child to any visitors from outer space who may be considering giving Earth a visit...
Because of Covid we were unable to hold our traditional Volunteers in the Garden day to prep the Community Garden for the coming growing season. Traditionally the event was held on a Saturday and everyone would come and work and we would celebrate with a potluck luncheon. This year the potluck had to be cancelled but work still needed to get done, so volunteers signed up for time slots and came to work in small groups to get the tasks completed...
I was out walking in the woods a couple of weeks ago and came into my house only to see my shoelaces full of cockleburs. My initial reaction was frustration since they take so much time and patience to pick out of the tangled laces. As I began to dislodge each seed pod, I began to smile- what a resilient and clever way to spread your gift into the world. While we are not as creative (and hopefully not as annoying) as the cocklebur, Living Earth Center is finding new and interesting ways to spread its roots out and share its gifts.
Living Earth Center is excited to announce we have filled our two seasonal manager positions. Jonathan Bystrowski has been hired as our Community Garden Manager and Carol Harder has been hired as our Community Farm Manager. We are looking forward to working with both of them this garden season.
Continue on to the full article to "meet" Jonathan and Carol...
From February 1 to April 6 a small group of LEC members met to discuss the book All We Can Save that was edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson and Katharine K. Wilkinson. The book consists of eight sections with 60 poems and stories and is a very beautiful attempt to compile and to consolidate the voices of concern among us of people confronting the environmental changes we face now.
03.31.21 Update: Application process is closed.
Living Earth Center is hiring for two summer positions - if you're looking to spend the summer outside, gardening for the greater good this is your opportunity!
We are looking to hire both a Community Garden Manager and a Community Farm Manager (two separate positions) for this growing season.
We are both excited and honored to announce that we will be partnering with Blue Earth County to take over the management of the Blue Earth County Community Farm, effective this year!
I have found that making Masala Chai in the afternoon is the perfect antidote for that sleepy post lunch crash I usually find myself fighting. And the drink itself is warming and comforting while the ritual of making it affords me the opportunity to slow down for a few minutes in a hectic day.
We are excited to announce that the Facebook Page for our Living Earth Word Share, with local poet/writer Ester Marcella Hoffmann is up and running!
Over the next 9 weeks Esther will be posting different writing prompts around nature/gardening/Earth and curating a welcoming space for anyone to share and workshop their poetry and writings. It is a virtual space to express your unique voice by creating writing with the intent to deepen your connection with the gardening community and the planet.
Are you interested in sharing common ground with us?
We are excited to announce that registration is now opened for the 2021 Garden Season!
Writing poetry, and eating foods that are close to the earth, keep me grounded on this beautiful planet. This winter, while we wait to get back to the gardens, I’d like to offer a space for a Living Earth Center writing community by creating The Living Earth Word Share Facebook page starting this February and leading up to April which is National Poetry Month.
What is better on a cold dark January night than a warm bowl of soup at dinnertime? Combining potatoes and Great Northern beans, this soup makes a hearty, "comfort food" meal.
In an effort to save paper and clutter, Living Earth Center will be transitioning to sending out only one year end tax letter beginning in 2021. The letter will include all donations made during the calendar year.
While we were saddened that the ongoing global pandemic kept us from hosting our traditional Winter Solstice Celebration in person, we were delighted by the turnout and reception of our virtual version.
As we at Living Earth Center look back at this challenging year we want to focus on the positives...
We are so grateful for our LEC Community - our gardeners, volunteers, donors, and participants.
We thank you from the bottom of our hearts and look forward to creating common ground and growing together in 2021 and beyond.
Living Earth Center is excited to announce starting in February we will be hosting a 10-week Book Circle to explore the book All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis.
We thank all of our supporters and welcome you to take a look at our progress as an organization over this last year.
We are more than “just” a Community Garden. LEC continues to serve as a Community Growing Space in both the physical, virtual, and metaphorical sense as a safe space for anyone from anywhere to come and grow and connect
to the natural rhythms of nature, life, and most importantly, love and hope.
This month seemed like a good time to focus on sharing holiday traditions. I reached out to former Board Member and Community Gardener Jolly Corley to share her family’s recipe for gingerbread.
This is a PBS documentary about the 1970 Pulitzer Prize Winner, Norman Borlaug. It shares his life as the son of Norwegian immigrants who settled in NE Iowa on a 100-acre farm in 1914. His early days were occupied working long hours on the farm. Norman gained some freedom from farm work with Ford’s building of a small tractor which his family acquired in the early 1920’s.
On Saturday, November 7th over 60 people (30+ individuals plus 30 SSND Sisters, socially distanced over 3 rooms in the Mother House in Mankato) joined together via zoom for LEC’s 15th Annual Earth Conference.
A delicious and easy recipe that highlights any variety of winter squash.
With the way things in 2020 have been going it can be hard to keep a positive outlook, so when this new documentary I was watching opened with narrator Woody Harrelson saying, “There’s so much bad news about our planet, it’s so overwhelming, the fear that we are headed for a cliff puts most of us into a state of paralysis. The truth is, I’ve given up, and odds are, so have you… but what if there was another path?” I found myself nodding in agreement, “Yes, Woody Harrelson, I am overwhelmed and sometimes feel like there’s nothing I can do that makes a difference. Please tell me of this ‘other path’ of which you speak…”
On Wednesday, October 21st over 30 people gathered online (mostly from Minnesota and Wisconsin, but some from as far as Pennsylvania and Toronto, Canada) to join Land Stewardship Project's Emily Minge, Clara Sanders Marcus, and Amy Bacigalupo in an LEC-hosted event, "Doing our Work: Racial and Environmental Justice."
This adapted recipe is a fall family favorite and has the approval of all members- even the pickiest of eaters!
One of the Center for Earth Spirituality and Rural Ministry (now Living Earth Center)’s founders, Sr Mary Tacheny, celebrated her 75 year Jubilee this year! We take a moment to celebrate her dedication to issues surrounding rural Minnesotans, sustainability, and Earth justice.
Mankato-based poet Esther Marcella Hoffman has composed an original poem for Living Earth Center. To read it, please follow the link above.
I recently made this simple recipe for a small outdoor gathering and multiple people asked how to make it. I was almost embarrassed to tell them because it was so easy didn't want to blow my gourmet chef cover! Nonetheless, if you have tomatoes, this easy summer recipe is definitely one you want in your wheelhouse!
After attending the webinar, “Eyewitness: Intersection of Racial Injustice and Climate Change,” hosted by Climate Generation: A Will Steger Legacy in early August, I ordered two copies of their new book Eyewitness: Minnesota Voices on Climate Change, one for myself and one for the LEC library.
Here at the Living Earth Center we always encourage you to shop small and shop local, but we realize there are times when this just isn't possible. We are now set up to receive donations via the AmazonSmiles program...
Our 4 month Give to Grow Mankato Campaign came to a close on August 22nd. We are so completely blown away by the generosity of our Living Earth Center Community!
LEC Board of Directors is welcoming two new members, a new Executive Team, and extends it's thanks to Members who have cycled off this year.
Review of the PBS American Experience documentary "The Vote."
Our new Garden Manager, Martin Jacaruso posted this photo to his Instagram account and it looked so delicious we asked him to share the full recipe with everyone at Living Earth Center.
Local artist Mal Murphy has donated her painting "Mother Nature" to the Living Earth Center. This beautiful piece will be spending her days in the Living Earth Center Resource Library and Community Growing Space in the Barn (after quarantine).
One of Living Earth Center’s goals is creating common ground, a place where everyone can feel comfortable and welcome. With the advent of Covid, gathering on literal common ground has become a safety concern, so the LEC Event Committee decided to create a virtual gathering space.
We are excited to announce new Living Earth Center Staff!
Living Earth Center stands with our community allies seeking justice for George Flynn and all People of Color.
I wanted to give an update on our Give to Grow Mankato Campaign running April 22 to August 22. As of May 22 we are 1/3 of the way through and with just over $3,500 raised, we are also just over 1/3 of the way to our goal of raising $10,000! A huge THANK YOU to everyone who has already donated!
On April 8th Living Earth Center hosted its first ever online class, a Beginning Plant Medicine Class in collaboration with Megan Schnitker of Lakota Made. Twenty people participated via Zoom, learning about the medicinal properties of over a dozen different plant species.
This past weekend the Living Earth Center Board met (virtually) Corona style. As is tradition for all Living Earth Center events and gatherings, we started the meeting with a "Getting Grounded" moment in which we all took time to take a deep breath, ground ourselves and check in with each other. The below poem was shared Sr. Anna Marie Reha as a way to center us not only for the meeting but for the weeks to come. We hope it provides comfort for you as it did for us.
One Small Step in February, we envisioned it being a virtual space for people to come together for encouragement and inspiration to live more sustainably. Then Covid-19 arrived.
Book of Month
June’s book of the month is “Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth,” edited by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee. It is a powerful and thought provoking collection of essays.
Taken from the introduction...
“This book is a collection of responses to the call of the Earth... These responses are not offered as a solution to a problem, because the world is not a problem but a living being in distress... The chapters of this book offer a range of different perspectives in the awakening needed...”
Featured essayists include Thich Nhat Hahn, Wendell Berry, Vandana Shiva, and Winona LaDuke.
Living Earth Center is excited to announce that it will be partnering with MSU's College of Allied Health and Nursing, Minnesota Recreation and Park Foundation, Mankato and North Mankato ACT of Kindness and Camp Maverick to host an EngAGEment Sensory Garden designed for people living with dementia, their care partners and friends. Group activities will be available during designated times throughout the garden season. This special garden plot will be filled with vegetables, flowers and herbs that invigorate all senses and will be specially designated for participants and their care partners.
Every winter, Living Earth Center produces its annual publication, the Earth Almanac, that provides insight to what's happening in the organization, ways to advocate, and ideas, articles and recipes that connect you with this Living Earth.
On November 3, over 120 people gathered to discuss the message nature is sending and how we can better listen to her message.
Know of any kids that want play in the dirt, pick some tomatoes and investigate insects? We have spaces available in our late summer Kids Garden Sessions! Little Sprouts (age 3-5) classes begin next Monday at 5:30 PM and Kids Peace Garden (ages 6-12) begin next Thursday at 5:30 PM. It's a great way to spend a summer evening in the Living Earth Garden! Registration ends Friday!
The best way to deal with life's annoying and... ichy problems? Perhaps attempting mosquito meditation.
Formally the Center for Earth Spirituality and Rural Ministry (CESRM), we are celebrating our growth to a new 501c3 called the Living Earth Center!