Best known as the home of the Mayo Clinic and IBM, Rochester is also southeastern Minnesota’s largest community with approximately 137,000 residents in the city and Olmsted County. Money Magazine recently said it best: “One thing to remember about Rochester is that it has the sophistication of a larger metro area, but not the congestion or the complications.” Named “Best Small City” in America, Rochester merges a cosmopolitan atmosphere with Midwestern hospitality. Its location along the Zumbro River in the Mississippi Bluff Country adds to the city’s prairie appeal.
Rochester is home to what may be the state’s greenest school building, George Gibbs Elementary, which opened in the fall of 2009. The school features a hybrid geothermal HVAC system and is built to maximize systems efficiency and the use of natural light. Recycling and other green practices will be part of the school’s daily to-do list. LEED certification for Gibbs is pending.
The growing Midwestern wind power industry can find a unique resource in Rochester as well: training for wind turbine installation. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 343’s Wind Training Facility hosted a visit from Energy Secretary Steven Chu in August of 2009. This program, which is slated to expand in coordination with Rochester Community and Technical College, is the only one of its kind in the nation. Local officials and business leaders hope to replicate its success as more wind power resources are developed throughout the country.
Rochester and neighboring Lake City, Zumbrota, and Lanesboro are home to many green initiatives and businesses, some of which are listed here, courtesy of the Rochester Convention and Visitor’s Bureau website, rochestercvb.org/green, and business web sites where available.
Olmsted County Waste-to-Energy Facility
The Olmsted Waste-to-Energy Facility (OWEF) is making garbage useful by burning it to produce energy in the form of steam and electricity. Each day non-recyclable waste is turned into heat, electricity and air conditioning for more than 26 county public buildings.
Rochester’s first LEED-certified building.
Bubbles by Brooks
Bubbles by Brooks, inspired by interconnection of life, provides natural, earth-friendly personal care products that help customers live a more healthy and sustainable lifestyle.
Herring Garden Design
Providing ecological restoration services through buckthorn & invasive species removal, prescribed burns, species specific tree and woody control (using non-disruptive techniques) and the reintroduction of native plants, trees and shrubs. They restore prairies, oak savannahs, woodlands and wetlands.
This one-of-a-kind boutique features fair trade and eclectic women’s clothing, shoes, and green goods.
Green tips and living column
Ecoconfessions blog where residents opine about the perils and rewards of working toward a more sustainable Rochesterâ€”postbulletin.typepad.com/ecoconfessions
An environmental e-zine about Rochester’s sustainability efforts.
A group working on a range of environmental issues, including reducing carbon emissions.
A nonprofit organization dedicated to making Rochester a safer, healthier and more vibrant community by design.
Rochester Public Utilities
Promotes conservation through customer education, appliance and equipment efficiency incentives.
Izaak Walton League
A group dedicated to protecting our nation’s soil, air, woods, waters and wildlife.
Empowers and educates the community to grow a sustainable urban forest, benefiting the health, social, and economic aspects of Rochester neighborhoods.
Rochester, MN 55901
The school contains several energy-efficient methods and the district has applied for certification with the U.S. Green Building Council Leadership in Energy and Efficiency Design (LEED).
Rochester Community and Technical College Associate of Science in Environmental Science Program
The environmental science program is a 60-credit Associate of Science degree program that provides a broad based understanding of basic sciences and important environmental and social issues.
Downtown Farmers Market
Includes a wide selection of locally grown foods from Southeastern Minnesota farmers and growers. There is a huge variety of vegetables, fruits, meats, breads, plants, baked goods, honey and preserves, and fresh cut flowers.
The Good Food Store & The Back Room Deli
This consumer-owned and operated store/cafÃ© provides quality whole foods to support diverse lifestyles. GFS bases the quality of its products on freshness, flavor, nutritional value, and respect for the environment.
Established in September of 2003, Rochester Produce focuses on providing market fresh produce and the best deli meats and cheeses in town.
SÃ¶ntÃ©s restaurant features local food, tapas, an extensive and eclectic wine list, and ambiance to spare. Owner Tessa Leung is an active participant in locavore and farm-to-table programs, sourcing produce, cheese and meats from Ames Farm, From the Earth Foods, Hidden Stream Farm, Whitewater Orchard, and the Rochester Downtown Farmer’s Market, among others.
Lake City, MN
The restaurant’s western Mediterranean influenced American cuisine focuses on the farming community of SE Minnesota and western Wisconsin. The menu is seasonal, breads are baked fresh daily, and ice creams and sausages are handmade at Nosh.
Oak Center/Earthen Path Farm
Lake City, MN
The store carries organic meat, produce, eggs, herbs, coffee and bulk items. In the spring and summer bedding plants and perennials are available, as well as a full line of gardening tools and homesteading supplies. Oak Center General Store is also home base for Earthen Path Organic Farm, a 14-acre fruit, herb and vegetable farm, which provides part of the produce for the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program.Â
Lake City, MN
Rabbit’s Bakery features homemade baked goods, breakfast and lunch fare. The menu uses local ingredients in the tradition of Nosh Restaurant, its neighbor and training ground for many of the staff.
Hope’s Harvest Natural Foods and Deli
Lake City, MN
Hope’s Harvest is a natural foods grocery & deli, featuring salads, sandwiches, smoothies, fair trade coffee & moreâ€”all organic! The grocery offers high-quality items focusing on organically grown, locally produced, less processed and modestly packaged foods.
Lanesboro, MN 55949
Vintage’s goal is to provide customers with the freshest possible ingredients while helping to sustain the local economy.Â
Green Routes maps will help you discover small, unique businesses that are rooted in their communities throughout Minnesota: places to eat where the food is not only fresh from a family farm, but where you might bump into the farmers who grew it; places to have fun while helping to ensure that natural and cultural resources will be around for many generations to come. Green Routes gives you a way to incorporate your values into your travels.
The City’s trail system, access to mass transit, bike racks and Mayo Park are considered sustainability assets.
Quarry Hill Nature Center
The 320-acre park features paved and hiking trails, a pond, and a historical man-made sandstone cave. In the winter months, cross country skis and snowshoes are available for rent to use in the park. Year-round outdoor education classes, day camps, trips, and activities are offered by Nature Center staff.
NOTE: The organizations and businesses on this page were chosen by the authors and are not necessarily endorsed by Do It Green! Minnesota.