Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

IonE Impact Goals Salon: Urban Agriculture and Ecosystem Services

May 11, 2022 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm


Join us at the next IonE Impact Goals Salon featuring guest speakers Nic Jelinski, UMN-Dept of Soil, Water and Climate, Melvin Giles, Co-coordinator of the St. Paul-based Urban Farm and Garden Alliance and Director of the Storymobile project, and Jennifer Nicklay, UMN-Dept of Soil, Water, and Climate and Board Chair of the Twin Cities Agricultural Land Trust, discussing the Impact Goal project Community Land and Food Gatherings: Relationship-based approaches urban agriculture research and land stewardship in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota.

Sustainable partnerships between academic institutions and community organizations must rest on a strong foundation of personal relationships, trust, service, place-based approaches to research and learning, and the ability to maintain connections and shared work as funding ebbs and flows.

In this seminar, Melvin Giles, Jennifer Nicklay, and Dr. Nic Jelinski discuss lessons learned from several years of collaborative work. They will share their living / growing set of principles and values for initiating and developing sustainable Community-University partnerships and making meaning. Discussion will highlight the integrated nature of this work to co-create data analysis and place-based application strategies, facilitate grower networks to support practice implementation, and identify drivers of urban agricultural management and land use decisions.

Registration for the virtual Zoom event is available here.


The IonE Impact Goals Salon series will foster discussion, connection among leaders, and exploration of research needs and public challenges.

Speaker Bios:

Melvin Giles is a veteran peace and diversity educator and activist who works on food systems in St. Paul. He leads the Urban Farm and Garden Alliance (UFGA), a network of Community Gardens and a group of Backyard Box Gardeners that promotes reconciliation, healing, peace, social and environmental justice through the cultivation and sharing of food in the Summit-University (Rondo) and Frogtown communities of St. Paul, MN. UFGA partners with several community organizations and institutions in order to share ideas, resources, and to co-host educational events and summer activities. Melvin also created the GrowRx prescription gardening program which works with health professionals to give gardens as a social prescription to support patients in the community in order to improve their health and wellbeing. Melvin and partners cultivate a sense of community with the goal to create greater access to nutritious foods, as well as providing greenspace for residents in neighborhoods that have suffered the consequences of institutional racism.

Nic Jelinski is a faculty member in the department of soil, water and climate at the University of Minnesota. Nic’s research is focused on understanding and quantifying soil variability, the relationships between soils and landscapes, and the responses of soils to management practices and environmental change. One of the major lines of effort of his research program is to investigate the distribution of soil health metrics, soil quality, and contaminants in urban agricultural systems. He currently teaches basic soil science and field soils classes.. Through community-engaged scholarship in Minneapolis-St. Paul, members of Nic’s research group are continuously engaged in service to the community. This service takes the form of nested activities that are centered on strong inter-personal relationships built on long-term commitments and trust.

Jennifer Nicklay is a PhD candidate in the Land and Atmospheric Science Graduate Program at the University of Minnesota. Her work involves community-based participatory research across physical and social science boundaries with urban agriculture growers in Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN. Her dissertation research has focused on the ways in which growing practices used in urban farms and gardens impact ecological processes like nutrient cycling, carbon storage, and biodiversity. Jennifer has facilitated numerous workshops and gatherings with researchers, students, growers, and policymakers to build shared knowledge, collaboratively analyze and make meaning from research data, and imagine actions informed by these findings. Jennifer is also the Board Chair of the Twin Cities Agricultural Land Trust, which advocates for long-term land access options for urban growers, and one of the founding members (and current co-coordinator) of the Fairshare Farm Community Garden in Minneapolis, where a group of ~30 gardeners collectively grows food on a side lot.


May 11, 2022
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm


Virtual Event
MN United States + Google Map