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URBAN FORAGER

Posted on 17 October 2020 by Tesha Christensen

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN

Professional forager Tim Clemens said, “If you want to learn about the trees, herbs, and mushrooms all around you, let’s take a walk together. You don’t have to travel halfway across the world to discover new experiences of sight, taste, and smell.” He offered a free foraging tour at Newell Park in early September in partnership with the Hamline Midway Coalition. (Photo by Margie O’Loughlin)

As people use public land more and family budgets get skinnier, Tim Clemens of Ironwood Foraging is helping build more resilient communities.
He does that by sharing knowledge about plants that everyone used to know but has been lost.
“Learning the lifeways of trees, herbs, mushrooms, and animals used to be essential for humanity and by many accounts a return to that knowledge has never been more necessary and rewarding. Foraging can be done in the city, countryside, forest, or even your backyard,” said Clemens, who moved from South Minneapolis to the east side of St. Paul last year.
He teaches local workshops on wild mushroom identification, edible and medicinal plants, fruit, nuts, and berries, urban foraging, maple syruping and more.
Clemens founded Ironwood Foraging Co. in 2017. He is the president of the Minnesota Mycological Society, a Minnesota Master Naturalist, and a Certified Wild Mushroom Expert. Clemens holds a bachelor of arts in anthropology from the University of Minnesota and a certificate in environmental education from Cornell University.
The Hamline Midway Coalition offered a free foraging tour with Tim Clemens of Ironwood Foraging in early September, made possible by a grant from the Trust for Public Land’s 10-Minute Walk campaign.
Read on for more.

What drew you into foraging?
Foraging is the ancient human narrative of finding and gathering food from the land. We all still have those foraging skills ready to blossom within us and we actually use those skills every time we go to the farmer’s market or supermarket. I like showing people how much deeper they can connect with the land using that same skill set.
Growing up I spent a lot of time exploring Minnehaha Falls, Minnehaha Creek, and feral alleyways. Those adventures helped me discover raspberries, gooseberries, and wild plums, but I also got lucky and didn’t eat anything toxic, which is the serious risk you take if you don’t identify and research everything prior to consuming. My first intentional foraging was for Ojibwe Language and Culture classes at the University of Minnesota where I participated in iskigamiziganing (Sugarbush Camp) and learned to tap maple trees to make maple syrup and maple sugar. I founded Ironwood Foraging Co. in 2017 to bring hands-on foraging education to the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area and Minnesota at large.

Midway resident Ray Neal (second from left), along with his brother, Rob Neal, and Krina Damien observe and taste test during a tour led by Tim Clemens. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

How/where did you get your training/knowledge?
Finding and learning from experts is always the best way to learn, so in the beginning I took every class and read every book I could find and I took a lot of notes. I’ve spent countless hours and hiked countless miles observing plants and mushrooms wherever I can find them. Foraging oftentimes brings to mind pristine wilderness areas, but urban foraging in the green spaces of a city can be just as rewarding. Plant ID apps for your phone, such as iNaturalist, can be a fun start, but never use an app to decide whether to eat something. They are often wrong and could lead to a potentially deadly misidentification.

What do you appreciate most about foraging?
There are more than 20,000 edible plant species, but fewer than 20 plant species account for over 90% of our food.
A forager has access to foods, aromas, and flavors that simply are not available to someone who doesn’t forage.
When I first started foraging I thought “Wow, look at all of this free food,” but I quickly learned that with greater knowledge comes greater responsibility. My connection with these plants and the land was calling me to also be a friend and steward – a voice for the voiceless green and natural spaces. Picking up trash, planting native seeds, and protecting the land through outreach and legislation makes me feel good.
When you see a new patch of milkweed spreading or a butternut tree you planted producing its first nuts, you can’t beat that.

How do you work to be culturally sensitive to the knowledge you give that comes from Indigenous sources?
I have Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) heritage from my paternal line, and I’m an Ojibwe language learner. I am a ‘lineal descendant’ which means that I can trace my ancestors through genealogy, but my blood quantum (a controversial law), is too low to enroll for federal status.
Since the rest of my heritage is European-American, I’ve made a point to approach indigenous knowledge as considerately as possible. Centering community knowledge and historical and cultural context is essential. When benefiting from indigenous knowledge, make sure you’ve given back to the community more than you’ve taken away.

What benefit does foraging offer in our COVID-19 world?
Foraging is inherently physically distant and occurs outdoors. Discovering new plants and mushrooms allows you to become a tourist again in your neighborhood or state. Planting native pollinator plants for a prairie restoration or harvesting wild cherries is a great way to spend time with friends and loved ones safely outdoors while tending to the health of the land and resiliency of your own health and the health of your community.
I’ve definitely seen an increase in foraging workshop attendees in the last six months. I think some people have more free time to pursue their interests, and I think others are currently cut off from their typical recreation and they’re looking for new outlets.

Tim Clemens holds a Pheasant Back mushroom that he cut from the hackberry tree behind him during a foraging tour at Lake Nokomis park while Krina Damien snaps a photo. Clemens offers tours in St. Paul, Minneapolis and the greater Twin Cities area. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

Why do people take your workshops and what is the value in them?
Some people want to take the edge off their grocery bill and access the most nutritious food on the planet. Others want to grow their understanding for herbal medicine, gardening, dyeing, or photography. Whatever their stated reason is, I think at the heart of it, people take my workshops to connect with the land, each other, and themselves.

How can people safely forage in urban environments?
Always identify every plant or mushroom with 100% confidence before using it to make sure it’s not toxic. The best motto to live by is “when in doubt, throw it out.” Find an expert and learn from them and when foraging on your own, always compare at least three sources, whether those sources are field guides or trustworthy websites.
Foraging is not legal everywhere and is not uniformly legal where it is. Contact the park you plan to forage at and see if foraging is allowed for what you want to harvest, and also ask them where they spray herbicides and what species they are managing in that way. Never harvest near train tracks, from contaminated waters, and make sure you know the history of the land you’re foraging on – i.e.. avoid Superfund sites and other hazardous sites.
Go to www.IronwoodForagingCo.com to sign up for public workshops or to inquire about private bookings. Find Clemens @MNforager on Instagram, and Ironwood Foraging Co. on Facebook.

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Lloyd’s Pharmacy reopens down the block after fire

Posted on 18 August 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Construction on new building to start soon

Owner and pharmacist Jim Stage stands in front of the temporary location for Lloyd’s Pharmacy at 694 Snelling. (Photos by Tesha M. Christensen)

By TESHA M. CHRISTENSEN
Six weeks after Lloyd’s Pharmacy burned to the ground, the longtime Midway business is operating down the block at 694 Snelling Ave.
“This is our home,” said owner Jim Stage. “We love being back in the neighborhood.”
By the beginning of August, Stage expected to be offering all of their services again, including compounding and vaccinations. They will not be offering COVID-19 testing as that requires more space than they have.
Lloyd’s customers are delighted their neighborhood pharmacy is back in the community. It had operated at 720 Snelling Ave. N. for 102 years before burning down on Friday morning, May 29, 2020 during the civil unrest that followed the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis.
“Some are so excited they cry,” stated Stage. “It’s like a reunion.”
Stage pointed out that customers come in regularly to pharmacies, and they have a lot of repeat business as people refill their medications. It is much more convenient to have the pharmacy nearby for residents so they don’t have to drive far.
“Thanks again for being back,” said one customer as they left the store on July 23.
Stage has spent most of his career at Lloyd’s, and he was devastated when the business burned down. His second job out of college was for former Lloyd’s owner Ron Johnson at his Rochester location, and Stage transfeRred to Lloyd’s in 2011 when a position opened up. In 2014, at age 33, Stage purchased the pharmacy and its building when Johnson retired.

Building had been used for storage

Pharmacist Jim Stage (center) and staff work in the new temporary location for Lloyd’s Pharmacy, located down the block from the original site. “When customers come back in, “It’s like a reunion,” said Stage. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

The temporary Lloyd’s location is at the corner of Van Buren Ave. and Snelling in 450 square feet that Lloyd’s had been using for storage.
To open as the temporary pharmacy, the main level was updated, and a bathroom and breakroom added in the basement.
The renovation work was completed for a July 13 opening date.
During the interim, customers were served at Setzer’s, a sister pharmacy owned by Stage that operates independently (1685 Rice St. in Roseville). Lloyd’s staff shared the space there.
Thirty-seven employees are back at Lloyd’s.

Site to be cleared soon
Down the block at the original site, there was still a pile of rubble surrounded by a fence. Stage had a company lined up in mid-July to clear the site but Ramsey County pushed him to find another. There is asbestos in the old building that is complicating the clean-up and adding another layer of regulation.
Once the site is cleared, Stage is ready to start rebuilding. He hopes to begin yet this summer.
The new building will sit on the same footprint as the historical one. In fact, it will look the same both inside and out, said Stage. The new building will be two stories with a basement. This time around, there will be a full basement under the whole structure.
According to Stage, there is a gap between the replacement cost the insurance company is paying and the cost of building new. The GoFundMe campaign that has raised $113,325 so far will help cover the difference.
The planning process has been made easier as Stage is using the same architect and builder who did the renovation and addition a few years ago. Dennis Batty and Associates along with Joe Beitler Construction’s familiarity with Lloyd’s made the process move quickly.
“We can’t wait to get that building set up for the community,” said Stage. “I’m excited to get it built.”

 

Menopause Center opens at temporary location near Setzer’s in Little Canada
On Aug. 1, the Menopause Center of Minnesota opened at a temporary location near Setzer’s Pharmacy, at 80 County Road C West, Suite 802, in Little Canada. The phone number remains 651-698-0891. The center lost its building to fire with Lloyd’s Pharmacy on May 29.

The Menopause Center is offering telemedicine visits because of COVID-19, and will continue with them until the federal government lifts that allowance, according to Advanced Practice Registered Nurse/Certified Nurse Midwife Catherine Mascari.

Since March, the Menopause Center’s two staff have been working from home, processing refills, answering phone calls Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and holding telemedicine appointments Tuesday to Friday from 9 am. to 5 p.m.

“The initial plan seemingly is to move quickly on rebuilding Lloyds Pharmacy and our practice will once more share space in the same building,” said Mascari.

The Menopause Center of Minnesota will be expanding services with the ability to order screening for labs, bone scans and mammograms and will add well-women care. “We are working with a credentialing and billing/coding specialist to facilitate contracts with additional insurance companies to grant access and decrease barriers to the expert care the Menopause Center provides to women age 35 and older experiencing hormonal changes,” said Mascari. “As one client said: No one has the leverage in the quality care, time and resources you provide.”

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Q&A with Defining You Pilates and Fitness

Q&A with Defining You Pilates and Fitness

Posted on 13 May 2020 by Tesha Christensen

Defining You Pilates and Fitness owner Suzy Levi teaches a class via Zoom. (Photo submitted)

Defining You Pilates and Fitness (550 Vandalia St.) quickly transitioned to a virtual studio format in March, pointed out owner Suzy Levi. The studio is offering 3-4 live group classes daily (mat pilates, yoga, barre, strength and HIIT formats), and has a Zoom library for members. Memberships and class sampler packs are available at several different rates starting at $19.99. There are also free weekly workouts on the studio’s YouTube channel.
Defining You is collaborating with an innovative fitness collective effort locally called Sweat Minnesota. This grassroots partnership of Twin Cities fitness pros and studios hosts a free line-up of all types of classes every other Saturday, and Defining You has hosted three classes on Facebook Live.

– How has COVID19 and the Stay at Home order affected your business?

Fortunately Defining You Pilates and Fitness was able to quickly transition to a Virtual studio format upon learning of Governor’s mandate on March 16.

Several days after temporarily closing our brick-and-mortar studio in Vandalia Tower we were up-and-running with virtual group classes on Zoom, for some of our Pilates Mat and Fitness Classes. Unfortunately our clients are missing out on our fabulous Pilates Reformer and Tower classes that utilize our apparatus equipment, which is all housed at the studio.

We’re grateful to so many of our loyal clients for sticking with us through this tough patch, enabling us to serve  people through fitness and ultimately working to support the greater community’s physical health and emotional wellbeing.

 

This pandemic brings to the forefront how important maintaining your health is, as a defense against the virus. Exercise and movement is essential to our wellbeing and we are thrilled we can provide this to our clients and our greater community.

 

– What do your current operations look like and when will you reopen?

  • Defining You has pivoted to a Virtual studio format and we’ve been up and running on Zoom for the last 6 weeks. Every day, we offer several live virtual group classes to bring our community together to move more, protect our health, support one another and stay connected. Classes include mat Pilates, Yoga, Barre, Strength and HIIT formats.
  • As an added benefit, DYF members have access to our Zoom library of virtual classes. So if they miss a favorite class, they can catch it at a later date/time. Or, if there is a class they love, they can run through it as many times as they like! We’ve heard from members that the Defining You Zoom library is a valuable offering, particularly during quarantine. We also offer pre-recorded virtual Sampler Packs of 3- or 5-classes for purchase for non-members.
  • We offer private training sessions virtually for individuals who appreciate one-on-one  support from our certified Pilates teachers and functional fitness trainers.
  • And, we’re publishing free weekly workouts on our You Tube channel. These range from HIIT to Pilates to our latest Big Ball workout that utilizes an extra-large exercise ball!
  • Fortunately we’re also collaborating with an innovative fitness collective effort locally called Sweat Minnesota. This grassroots partnership of Twin Cities fitness pros and studios hosts a free line up of all types of classes every-other Saturday, with their next event on May 16. Defining You has hosted three Sweat Minnesota classes on Facebook Live and anyone can visit our Facebook account and enjoy these free classes as well.
  • We have a plan in place to reopen as soon as Governor Walz gives us the green light and we’re working behind the scenes to make sure the studio space is ready and that our team is well prepared. Once the restrictions are lifted, our strategy is to reopen Defining You in stages; we will take it slow and be cautious being mindful and following the COVID-19 guidelines established by the Department of Health and the CDC.

 

– Did you secure a PPP loan or other assistance and how does that affect things for you?

As a St. Paul small business owner, I have applied for a PPP loan and a couple of other loans. I am still waiting to hear and am hopeful something will come through to help sustain the studio through the shutdown and the following 12 months as we anticipate it will take awhile to return operations to pre-COVID19.

 

– How many staff did you go into this with and what is the current situation? How are they managing things? 

Our operations staff of four has not been impacted, yet.

Our instructors and trainers have scaled back on teaching given we reduced our daily class schedule to three to four classes a day, compared to eight to 10 classes during pre-Coronavirus times.

Our staff is managing fairly well and we know we’re stronger together. We have ongoing check-in Zoom calls to support each other. This is a very tight network of thoughtful individuals who care very much for one another as well as our clients.

 

– How do you see this affecting your industry as a whole and what concerns you?

  • I know many small boutique studios and micro gyms  are hurting financially today, we are all trying to figure this out together and we appreciate any and all support from our neighbors and the local community.
  • Most fitness professionals and studio owners have very narrow margins to remain viable and profitable even in the good times. So, the Coronavirus era has taken a toll.
  • The good news is we are a determined team of business owners, and by working together we will figure this out. Organizations like Sweat Minnesota are doing so much good to support and invigorate the local fitness industry. I’m on the Board of the Pilates Method Alliance, we are continually offering guidance, support and insights to help those in our industry. In fact, just this week I hosted a Facebook live discussion related to nurturing and maintaining client relationships during a pandemic.
  • I believe there are silver linings to every trying situation. This Pandemic forced many of us to offer virtual options for our home bound clients sheltering in place. Going forward, this option will be a great value to clients who cannot make it to live classes due to work, family or other commitments. They can opt into these classes anytime, almost from anywhere. Virtual formats also provide us, as studio owners, with additional revenue streams and they add value to our studio programming. I was planning on adding this as an option at Defining You in Q4 for our fitness classes and Pilates Teacher Training Program. Now I can work on improving our product and it will be even better by the end of the year.

– How can the community support you?

  • We appreciate any and all support during this time, it means so much to me and our entire Defining You community.
  • Our welcoming studio is known for our supportive team of staff, clients and community members. We always emphasize that we meet clients where they’re at, at all levels. So, if there are readers who are looking to join a studio, we offer an introductory monthly membership for $69. This would include all our virtual group classes for one month. We also offer a 3- or 5- Virtual recorded class Sampler Pack for $19.99 and $29.99 respectively. With this option folks can choose the format series they’re interested in, join in the classes and also have access to those same classes in our Zoom library for up to one month.
  • Please visit our website at www.DefiningYouFitness.com or email our front desk team at definingyoufitnessdesk@gmail.com or call us at 651-769-5712.
  • If there are people who have tried Defining You and had a great experience, please tell your friends, neighbors and family! We also appreciate any positive reviews on Google, Yelp, Facebook, etc.

– Any other comments?

I have said often, we will get through this. And, when we do, we will be better at what we do, better at helping people live their healthiest lives, better at appreciating the gifts we have.  We will be stronger, too.

 

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