Earth Hour is Saturday

I’ll be participating in Earth Hour this weekend. What is Earth Hour? It is an hour where we live without electric/artificial light.  It started in Sydney in 2007, as a way to save energy and bring more attention to climate change.

I’ll take it as an opportunity to relax and do pretty much nothing, a rare occurrence in our busy busy world.

Earth Hour is from 8:30-9:30pm local time.

Will you observe Earth Hour this year?

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I Went Green in Queens

Today I spent an afternoon over at the Al Oerter Recreational Center in Flushing Meadow Park at the Going Green in Queens conference. My original plan was to just visit the expo and tables, pick up any literature that looked interesting, and chat with friends who were also planning to be there.  Imagine my surprise to see a permaculture workshop being offered!  I couldn’t help but check it out.

The hour and fifteen minute workshop was presented by Philip Botwinick and Sharon Kimmelman of Local Energy Solutions.  It was through a chance conversation with Sharon back in December that first got me interested in permaculture, so it was nice to see them at work, teaching.  It was a good basic review and got me even more excited about taking a 72 hour Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) course.  I would love to teach permaculture one day.

I think my favorite aspect of the workshop was that most of the answers to the questions Sharon and Philp asked were made by the young kids present.  I loved seeing them so engaged with the process.  I hope they continue to be inspired by the concepts within permaculture that they learned today.

Besides this pleasant surprise, it was great to see friends and meet new people.  I expect I’ll be receiving a lovely hand designed Astoria Park Alliance shirt to wear when helping out in Astoria Park (July 5, here I come).  Met the program director of Build It Green, and got him connected to one of the coordinators with APA.  Hoping we’ll be involved with their block party in May.

Later tonight, I’ll be participating in Earth Hour. Candles (soy!) are ready!

Posted in Events, Permaculture | 3 Comments

Growing Your Own… Fresh Air!

Today I came across a TEDTalk by researcher Kamal Meattle.  He says that certain common houseplants can help clean the air inside a building, significantly.  The three are:

Areca Palm (“The Living Room Plant”); Chrysalidocarpus lutescens.  It removes CO2 and converts it into oxygen.  The suggestion is having four shoulder-high plants per person, wipe the leaves daily or weekly, and take it outdoors every 3-4 months for a short time.

Mother-in-law’s Tongue (“The Bedroom Plant”); Sansevieria trifasciata.  It converts CO2 into oxygen at night.  The suggestion is having 6-8 waist-high plants per person.

Money Plant (“The Specialist Plant”); Epipremnum aureum.  It removes formaldehyde and other volatile chemicals.

Additionally, they found that headaches decreased by 24%; there was a 20% increase in human productivity; and a 15% reduction in energy requirements in buildings.

Pretty impressive.  Yes, it’s a lot of plants, but I wonder if even half that many would make an impact?  Probably, to some extent.  One of our plans is to bring plants into the apartment to help cool down and be more energy efficient (read: cut down on our A/C usage in the summer).  We are going to look into this and hopefully implement it this spring.

Here is the talk, for a more comprehensive look into what Meattle is talking about:

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World Water Day

Thanks to supereco, I learned today is World Water Day.  Water has been on my mind the past couple of days after discussing the subject in a permaculture course I took this weekend, led by Jude Hobbs.  She told us that if you put all the fresh water in a gallon container, only a teaspoon would be drinkable.  Well, I was shocked, I must say – I had no idea things were that dire.

We also learned that out of the 6.5 billion people on the earth, 1.5 billion do not have safe drinking water.  This just should not be allowed to be.

Linked from the World Water Day is the IRC – the International Water and Sanitation Centre. From there:

World Water Day – 22 March 2005 – marks the start of a new UN International Decade for Action on water. The Water for Life Decade 2005-2015 will give a high profile to implementing water-related programmes and the participation of women. The UN hopes that the Decade will boost the chances of achieving international water-related goals and the United Nations Millennium Declaration.

Apparently, “The first water decade – from 1981 to 1990 – brought water to over a billion people and sanitation to almost 77 million.” Amazing and awesome!  I hope this current Water for Life Decade is making an impact.

What does that mean for me?  Well, it’s already got me thinking about water and decreasing my own usage.  While low-flow shower heads won’t go over very well (read:  will meet heavy resistance), there are other ways  I’ve figured out to cut down on my water usage.  Things that come to mind right off:

  • Putting a bucket in the tub to catch the water that flows while the shower is warming up in the morning.  This water can be used later to hand-wash clothes (wool, etc.)
  • Taking shorter showers!  I take cold showers on summer evenings, but have plans to make the house cooler with plants.
  • Using a plastic tub to hold rinse water during dish washing instead of letting it flow.
  • Turning off the water while I brush my teeth.

I’m sure I can come up with others, too.  Perhaps water catchment will be in my future, too.  :)

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CSA in NYC Conference by Just Food

csainnycjustfoodlogo

Just a quick note -  on Sunday, I attended the CSA in NYC Conference organized by Just Food. What a great event! I learned an awful lot, met some nice people and heard two of my CSA farmers speak.  It was really good to get their take on a variety of issues.  The Expo was well done and I even brought some amazing raw milk cheese home with me, as well as some tasty cheesy animal crackers.  Hats off to Just Food for a great event.

Image: (c) Just Food

Posted in CSA, Events, Links, Vermicomposting | 1 Comment

Catching Up

BasilI’ve seen a number of things in my web travels over the past few weeks that I’ve wanted to blog about but haven’t (mostly due to work projects), so I’m going to summarize instead of letting them languish in my feed reader. Here are some of the interesting things I’ve come across lately. Good chance I may comment more on them at a later time.

Articles and Blog Posts
Spoiled: Organic and Local Is So 2008 [Mother Jones]
“Our industrial food system is rotten to the core. Heirloom arugula won’t save us. Here’s what will.”

Industrial models for sustainable food? [The Sustainable Foodie]
On the subject of pork, whether or not it’s better to eat sustainable pork grown elsewhere or local pork. Reminiscent of the choice presented to eat organic fruit shipped to NY from CA or local non-organic fruit.

What’s Keeping Me So Busy: Real Food Media, Expo West & the No GMO Challenge [Cheese Slave]
Recent progress on the development of Real Food Media.

Field Report: Table to Farm [NY Times]
“A small-town Missouri restaurant connects the community, one root-beer-braised brisket at a time.”

Upcoming March Events (on the Calendar)

CSA in NYC Conference, March 8
The Green Renter: Green Roofs and the Urban Environment: Applications and Benefits, March 9
An Introduction to Urban Permaculture: Simple Tools for Sustainable Living, March 21-22

I’ll be attending the CSA conference as well as the Urban Permaculture course, which I will of course blog about here.

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The Polyface Farm Trailer

Ever since I read about Polyface Farm in The Omnivore’s Dilemma, I’ve been very intrigued by the Good Farm concept. This is a farm, “one where animals got to live according to their nature and to all appearances did not suffer.” It’s perfectly sustainable, too, with pigs, chickens, and cows all assisting the growth of appropriate vegetation, which in turn assists the growth of the animals. It’s a beautiful, natural cycle, one that I wish was encouraged and practiced more extensively in this country.

The video, according to the Youtube page:

A comprehensive look at Polyface Farm through the course of one full year of farming … features one of the world’s finest working examples of an environmentally friendly family farm. Join entrepreneur and passionate farmer Joel Salatin as he explains balance and interconnectedness of the landscape, community, plants and animals. Hard hitting and practical, Salatin’s explanations will revolutionize your thinking about food and farming in a proactive, can-do style.

[via the Polyface Farm Blog]

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Worms in the NY Times

Worms!Just a quick post tonight – I was really happy to see an article on vermicomposting in the NY Times today.  I am a big fan of indoor composting and have had a worm bin for almost 2 years.  I’ve never had a problem with my bin, and my worms have been really happy eating all my organic vegetable and fruit scraps, egg shells and newspaper.  I reduce what I put in the trash, and I get some great compost in the process.  I am hopeful to have a plot in a community garden this summer, so I’ll use my compost for that.

I would love to teach people how to start vermicomposting.  It’s so rewarding and beneficial! Feel free to contact me if you have any questions. :)

Urban Composting:  A New Can of Worms [NY Times]

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Queens Holistic Moms

I wanted to pass on this info from Megan Franzen about a new chapter of the Holisitc Moms Network, right here in Queens!  Holistic/Wholistic living is related to sustainable living, IMO.

qhmn_crop
Greetings!

I am excited to tell you about a new community that I am helping to start here in Queens — the Holistic Moms Network Queens Chapter! Four friends and I have volunteered as the Chapter Leaders to get things started. I am really looking forward to being a part of this group because I am so excited to connect with other moms in the ‘hood.

The Holistic Moms Network was founded by moms and for moms as a community building coalition and it has since grown into a rapidly expanding national non-profit organization for those interested in natural health and mindful parenting. At its core, the HMN helps moms to find their tribe, remember their spirit, and connect to new friends. Offering everything from playgroups to lending libraries, the HMN embraces healthy living for all people. We seek to empower women to make mindful choices that fit their families and their priorities. The Holistic Moms Network began in New Jersey and now have chapters across the country– now we will have one right here in Queens!

We are holding our Kick-Off Meeting on Wednesday, March 11th from 6:30-8:00pm at Arrow Community Center in Long Island City, Queens (35th Street between 35th and 36th Aves). Will you join me for this special event? It will be a lot of fun, we’ll meet other moms interested in a holistic lifestyle in our area, and there will also be a raffle and a goodie-bag with coupons and free holistic products. You can bring anyone you think would be interested in the group with you. The HMN welcomes all parents and is child-friendly, of course!

Our website is http://queensny.holisticmoms.org/ . Use it to learn more or to refer other moms that may be interested. We also have a Facebook group if you are on there.

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New CSA in Astoria

This is a reprint of a post I wrote over on Joey in Astoria.

beets

beets

CSAs are really popular in Astoria. So popular, that there is a waiting list every season. As a Core Group member of the Hellgate CSA, I’ve seen the demand rise for our CSA each year, and through chatting with the organizers of the Astoria CSA, I understand they are in the same situation.

And while we’re excited that so many people are interested in CSAs, it’s also a bummer to have to give people the news that they were not accepted by the CSA for any current season. We would love to accommodate everyone, but can’t for a number of reasons.

That’s why I’m really happy that another CSA is starting in Astoria! Their name is Harvest Astoria and can be found at harvestastoria.com. Their location is in an area that is not served by current CSAs, so they fill a need, location-wise. From their front page:

Welcome to Harvest Astoria.

We are a new CSA forming in the Astoria/Long Island City Area.

We have now officially obtained our distribution site: The Church of the Redeemer at 30-14 Crescent Street near 30th Ave (map).

We are proud to announce that our food will be supplied by Norwich Meadows Farm. Zaid Kurdieh is the farmer.

Please do not contact the church or the farmer for information.

If you are interested in joining please click on the CONTACT link and let us know!

Thanks for all the interest expressed so far!!

We are very excited about the requests for more information on membership that have come in. Please be patient with us as we get ourselves organized. All requests for information will be responded to in the next few weeks – so keep sending them in and keep checking our website for more information!

Definitely check them out if you are looking for a CSA in Astoria.

There are a number of CSAs in Western Queens. They are:

Hellgate CSA – Ditmars area
Astoria CSA – at ARROW, 35th Street near 35th Ave
Harvest Astoria CSA – 30th Ave and Crescent
Long Island City CSA – in LIC
Sunnyside CSA – 39th Street in Sunnyside
Farmspot – 82nd Street in Jackson Heights

They are all worth looking into if you are interested. It’s a good idea to get on the waiting list(s), and sometimes slots open up during the season, too. CSAs are an easy way of moving toward a more sustainable way of life.

Photo credit: (c) Meg Cotner

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