Taking Our Vision to the City Level

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Gandhi Mahal relies on our abundant local agricultural community for a huge portion of its ingredients. Here, Ruhel shows off his bounty from the Midtown Farmers Market.

Great curry aside, if there’s one thing you should know about Gandhi Mahal, it’s that it’s not all about the curry. It’s about you and everyone else eating healthy food, now and in the future, spice or no spice. That’s because Gandhi Mahal is not just a restaurant, but an incubator of ideas. It’s both a test lab and a prototype for a thriving local food system. Owner Ruhel Islam has visions far beyond the reach of his own four walls, and as a new member of the Homegrown Minneapolis Food Council, he has a new opportunity to take that vision to the city level.

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Ruhel is one of 25 members elected for the 2016-2017 term, part of a task force with representation from local businesses, non-profits, governmental departments and more. From their website:

Homegrown Minneapolis is a citywide initiative expanding our community’s ability to grow, process, distribute, eat and compost more healthy, sustainable, locally grown foods. Homegrown Minneapolis brings together key partners from local government, area businesses, community organizations, non-profits, and residents to build a healthy, local food system.

Together, the Council has tackled such issues as land access for urban agriculture, safety regulations in the cottage food industry, and farmers’ market accessibility for low-income community members. You can view a full list of Homegrown Minneapolis’ 2015 highlights here.

Ruhel’s service on the Homegrown Minneapolis Food Council is a continuation of his ongoing involvement in the public sphere, including his current leadership as Vice President of the Lake Street Council and his past participation in US Small Business Administration’s Emerging 200 InitiativeOver the years, he has spoken at events through organizations such as Green Card Voices, Northland Sustainable Solutions, the Latino Economic Development Center, and the Lake Street Council. He has partnered with the Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs (HECUA) to provide new learning opportunities for students studying both locally and in Bangladesh. Recognizing that he, himself, can’t change the world alone, he shows an enduring commitment to the vitality of his business, his business community, and the greater community at large.

What will he bring to the table with Homegrown Minneapolis? “Ruhel is an innovative thinker and has a seemingly boundless imagination,” says fellow council member Russ Henry of Giving Tree Gardens. But that’s not to say he’s a just a daydreamer. “[His] business model at Gandhi Mahal is proof of the effectiveness of his vision and methods. It’s an honor to serve alongside Ruhel and all the members of the Homegrown Minneapolis Food Council in pursuit of some of our time’s most important work, food justice and sustainability.”

One idea itching to make some headway is underground indoor gardening as seen in New York, a year-round solution to the short Minnesota growing season. “I have no doubt we can do this here someday,” says Ruhel. “If we can fund the US Bank Stadium, why not this?”