Reading the front-page article about new Minnesota apples (“With First Kiss, apple growers find new sweet spot,” Sept. 16), I imagined how amazed my great-great-grandfather, Irwin Rollins, would be. He started the ancestor of all of the apples the article mentioned in 1856 near Elgin, Minn., with grafts that he’d brought from his father’s farm near Topsham, Vt. He named the apple Malinda, after his sister. The Malinda has been called “The Mother of Minnesota Apples.”

This edited excerpt from the Wabasha Herald, Elgin column, Dec. 7, 1865, shows the early skepticism about apples in Minnesota:

“Mr. I.W. Rollins has over 3,000 young apple trees [and] 300 trees of bearing size, some of which are nine years old and which he raised from seedlings … these bore fine specimen of apples … splendid proof of what can be done by one man to destroy the prejudice existing in a community. While many have spent nine years arguing that we could not raise apples in Minnesota, climate was too cold, soil not adapted to fruit growing, winds too strong, etc., Mr. Rollins has quietly and perseveringly raised a splendid young orchard … . We would earnestly advise old fogies who don’t believe that apples will grow in Minnesota to call on Mr. Rollins.”

Other progeny of the modest but hardy Malinda include Minnehaha, Folwell, Beacon, Chestnut Crab, Haralson, MN 1606, Sweet Sixteen, Keepsake, and Honeygold — quite a legacy!

Janet Avery, Golden Valley


Four ways to work toward a better collective carbon footprint

I learned a long time ago that the person who asks the question in large part determines the answer. The effort to draft a Minneapolis 2040 Comprehensive Plan illustrates the point (“Mpls. has plan to brake car culture,” Sept. 9). It starts with an observation that cars account for a large portion of the carbon pollution in the city. Then it asks how we can reduce trips in cars.

The better question is: How can we reduce the pollution caused by cars? Before she retired, my wife drove her car 18 miles (one way) to work five days a week; it was a plug-in hybrid. At one point the car had gone 13 months between fill-ups. The car’s computer tells us we are currently getting 314 miles per gallon. Clearly, this is an example of a tiny carbon footprint without ditching the car. If a goal of Minneapolis 2040 is fighting global warming, the city’s antipathy toward cars may not be the answer. Perhaps it could encourage electric vehicles with charging stations or breaks on parking or rebates.

There are other legitimate issues raised in Minneapolis 2040 that would get better answers if the questions were phrased differently.

Rolf Bolstad, Minneapolis

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I’m encouraged that City Council Member Kevin Reich is advocating for a downtown bike center as Minneapolis pushes for 15 percent bicycle mode share (“Where will bikes fit in as Minneapolis updates its transportation action plan?” Outdoors Weekend, Sept. 14). Many individuals who work downtown would choose to bike instead of drive but lack access to necessary trip-end facilities such as secure bike parking, showers, lockers and on-site maintenance/repair equipment. According to a recent study of bike commuters in the Washington, D.C., area, people are nearly five times more likely to bike instead of drive to work if good trip-end facilities are offered.

The current Minneapolis and Hennepin County bike plans each include a goal of creating a downtown bike center. What’s been missing, however, has been focused, coordinated effort between civic leaders, businesses and bike advocates to make this idea a reality. One opportunity would be to allow public access to the bike facilities in the city’s new Consolidated Office Building slated to open in 2020. This could be offered at a fraction of the cost of downtown car parking, in addition to the separate facility suggested by Reich.

I’m certain that many residents — even those who don’t bike — would agree that Minneapolis, as a leader among America’s top bike-friendly cities, should have a great downtown bike center. Hopefully, we’re on the verge of real progress on this. Let’s provide would-be transportation cyclists with the facilities they need to make biking a viable option for their downtown commute.

Marc Berg, St. Louis Park

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Leaving your car at home for a day is a good effort to help reduce carbon-monoxide emissions. Another simple idea is to not idle your car for more than a minute. According to a U.S. government fuel economy site, it seems impossible that a gallon of gasoline, which weighs about 6.3 pounds, could produce 20 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) when burned. Most of the weight of the CO2 doesn’t come from the gas itself, but the oxygen in the air.

I can walk to most places in my neighborhood, and I walk my dog twice a day as well. On almost every walk, I see cars idling in every kind of weather: cold, hot, moderate, windows open, people waiting for someone, texting (thanks for not driving and texting!), eating their lunch. Once I was walking my dog and passed several men painting a house, their truck idling at the curb. I walked on and when I walked back later, it was still idling. I went up to one of the men and asked if he would turn off his engine, and he did. Another time, in winter, I saw a man unload a small blower from his idling truck and start to clean an apartment-house driveway. I went up to him and was told, “I’ll do what I want!” I no longer speak to anyone about their idling motors (there have been more unpleasant reactions).

But you can help reduce pollution (and save gas) by simply not idling your motors, even waiting as a lengthy train passes. Please turn it off.

Virginia L. Martin, St. Paul

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After reading the Sept. 20 commentary “A not-so-natural bike commuter tries it, likes it,” I’d like to add a few comments on bike commuting.

If Minneapolis is serious about gettting people to commute by bicycling, I have a simple, yet critical suggestion to facilitate it. We are now at the time of year when daylight hours are rapidly declining. To commute by bike to and from work entails biking in limited light or even in the dark. It is dangerous to bike on unlit trails; it feels uncomfortable and unsafe when you can’t see what’s ahead or on the side of you. Bike trails are most certainly emptier, and the lack of riders on the trails can make riders uneasy.

Oddly, the most well-used bike trails in Minneapolis lack lighting. The Cedar Lake Bike Trail — specifically designed as a bike commuter trail — has no lighting until you reach Target Field. The vast majority of the trail is pitch-dark at night. The Kenilworth Bike Trail has no lighting whatsoever. It runs through a heavily wooded area, and at night riders can feel extremely isolated. The Midtown Greenway is well-lit until you reach the bridge that crosses over the lagoon between Lake of the Isles and Bde Maka Ska. Then it goes dark the rest of the way traveling west. Why is it well-lit until this point and then nothing?

These well-used off-road commuter bike trails need lighting to make them user-friendly when daylight is so short. I’m very curious why lighting along these bike paths is lacking. To encourage commuter biking at this time of the year, better conditions must be created so that people can feel and be safe.

Ron Werner, St. Louis Park