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SUSTAINABLE SUGARING: MAPLE WEEKEND Event

Photos courtesy of Fresh Tracks Vineyard & Winery

Photos courtesy of Fresh Tracks Vineyard & Winery

 

By N. R. Mallery

When you live in Vermont, the taste of pure maple syrup might just be in your blood. Well, here’s a sustainable story about the maple wine worth taking note of.

This fall, while traveling south on Montpelier, on Route 12, my attention was drawn to a solar system in a natural setting for a winery called Fresh Tracks Farm and Winery — and it was open!

Call it fate, but what I learned and tasted is why I am sharing this story. The inviting, warm atmosphere led me to a taste-testing like no other that I had ever experienced. On the menu was Maple Wine! All I could say upon that first taste crossing my tongue was WOW!  The couple next to me had the same reaction. What an incredible find — like a rare gem.

In 2002, Christina Castegren had a sustainable vision for the whole farm that started as a labor of love. She knew that Vermont presented a challenge to grow grapes for wine production, let alone to do it sustainably.

Sustainable practices are at the heart of everything they do at Fresh Tracks Farm. They believe that what they do and how they live on and around their land has a direct impact on what they receive from it. Geothermal is used as a renewable energy source to heat and cool the Tasting Room and Winery. Solar from an 8.1Maple_Wine-web kW system supports a portion of their electricity, as well.

A variet20131002_FT_Harvest_126_weby of natural farming principles are drawn upon to work the land with knowledge of both science and tradition to foster healthy growth and responsible usage. Tracy Roux, the Tasting Room Manager, commented, “sustainability is also about running an honest business, providing good value and quality products to our customers, and a fair living for their employees. We believe that everyone should benefit from being a part of Fresh Tracks Farm.”

Farming at Fresh Tracks has included some maple syrup production, since the start. The sugaring set-up includes a vacuum system and a wood-fired pan, where they produce about twenty gallons of syrup each year. Twenty gallons are for syrup for retail, plus maple sap used for wine production. They concentrate the sap to a sugar content suitable for fermentation.  Maple fermentation is difficult and takes longer than for grapes.   It is necessary to make the maple wine in small batches – and can take up to four months.  Maple wine is a dessert wine, which means that it is sweeter, higher in alcohol, and the perfect post-dinner treat.

All I can say is that tasting is believing, and that you can likely find this gem only in Vermont!

They are located at 4373 Rte 12, Berlin, Vermont. 802.223.1151. You can find more info about Fresh Tracks Farm and Winery at www.freshtracksfarm.com/

March 27 Green Energy News

Headline News:

Shanghai smog as the afternoon sun has reached the smog line. Photo by Suicup, Wikimedia Commons.

Shanghai smog as the afternoon sun has reached the smog line. Photo by Suicup, Wikimedia Commons.

  • China is reducing coal use for power generation faster than expected as the use of cleaner-burning fuels and slowing economic growth drags thermal utilisation rates to a potential record low. Utilisation rates at thermal power plants, nearly all coal-fired, have dropped to 52.2% in the first two months of this year. [The Australian Financial Review]
  • Fueled by the policy-driven installation increases in China, Germany, and the US, the global wind industry had a remarkable comeback in 2014. Other countries contributed, including Brazil, Canada, and France. Navigant Research says worldwide wind power installations grew by 42% on year in 2014. [Digitimes]
  • Britain’s greenhouse gas emissions fell 8.4% in 2014 due to a decline in fossil-fuel power generation, preliminary government data showed on Thursday. The fall largely resulted from a 15% decrease in emissions from the energy supply sector as coal-fired generation fell and output from renewable power sources rose. [Sydney Morning Herald]
  • Provisional Renewable Electricity Generation 2014 national statistics show that 49.6% of electricity consumption came from renewable sources in Scotland last year, up from 44.4% in 2013. Hydro, bioenergy and wind generation all increased, with hydro at a record high level, up 26% to 5,503 GWh. [The National]
  • The US Energy Information Administration’s electricity generation figures for December 2014 show the country has reached very interesting milestone that was widely missed: wind power actually produced more electricity than hydropower for the month as a whole … for the first time in history. [CleanTechnica]

For more news, please visit geoharvey - Daily News about Energy and Climate Change.

Here’s to biomass!

peter welch banner

Modern wood heating systems are a great way to reduce heating bills while improving the environment. That’s why Peter introduced The Biomass Thermal Utilization Act which would make it more affordable for Vermonters to install wood heating systems in homes and businesses.  Learn more here about the BTU Act and how biomass thermal heating systems can cut heating bills in half and lower carbon emission by as much as 95 percent.

“Peter was at National Life in Montpelier to announce the Biomass Thermal Utilization Act that would make it more affordable for Vermonters to install wood heating systems in their homes or businesses. National Life cut their heating bill in half using a modern wood heating system.”

“Peter was at National Life in Montpelier to announce the Biomass Thermal Utilization Act that would make it more affordable for Vermonters to install wood heating systems in their homes or businesses. National Life cut their heating bill in half using a modern wood heating system.”

 

March 26 Green Energy News

Headline News:

Downtown Vancouver. Photo by Connormah, via Wikimedia Commons.

Downtown Vancouver. Photo by Connormah, via Wikimedia Commons.

  • The Vancouver city council voted unanimously Wednesday to support a shift toward using 100% renewable energy sources in a renewed push to meet its “greenest city” goals. Currently, 32% of Vancouver’s energy needs are met by renewable energy including electric power, heating and cooling. [MetroNews Canada]
  • SunEdison plans to buy about 1,000 vanadium flow batteries from Imergy Power Systems. They will store more than 100 MWh of energy at SunEdison’s rural electrification and solar-powered minigrid projects in India. SunEdison intends to bring reliable energy to 20 million people globally by 2020. [Clean Technology Business Review]
  • Renewable electricity in the UK surged 20% to 64.4 TWh in 2014 and claimed a record share of 19.2% of total generation. The latest Energy Statistics show offshore wind generation rose by 16.1% and onshore wind by 7.9% compared with 2013. Both increases were mainly due to increased capacity. [reNews]
  • Texas has become a renewable energy leader, thanks in part to a renewable energy bill introduced by Senator Troy Fraser in 2005. Now Fraser asks if the work is already done and whether incentives should be frozen. The original goals were 5,000 MW by 2015 and 10,000 MW by 2025. But Texas hit that mark in 2010. [Fierce Energy]
  • Oil companies continue to get burned by low oil prices, but the pain is bleeding over into the financial industry. Major banks are suffering huge losses from both directly backing some struggling oil companies, but also from buying high-yield debt that is now going sour and difficult for the banks to sell on the market. [CleanTechnica]

For more news, please visit geoharvey - Daily News about Energy and Climate Change.

Permaculture “Through the Seasons” Design Course

Food for thought: How do we meet human needswhile preserving ecosystem health?

DAcresPDCimage1aThe sixth Annual Permaculture “Through the Seasons” Design Course, an internationally recognized interactive course based on a 72 hour curriculum, is scheduled to start May 15th. Over six weekends from May through November, D Acres Permaculture Farm and Educational Homestead will provide the space to learn, understand and take part in developing a holistic, integrated design for a sustainable future.

The Permaculture Design Course (PDC) provides students with the ability to follow the seasonal New England rhythm and receive practical learning from eight instructors while designing an effective permaculture system for their own property. The PDC is especially useful for homeowners, planners, design professionals, community organizers, farmers, and gardeners. It is adapted to a wide variety of learning styles and is presented via lecture, images, video, group discussion, hands on experiences, exercises, and design projects.

About the Course

Topics covered will include:

  • Permaculture ethics and principles
  • The design process
  • Food and energy security
  • Natural systems and biodiversity
  • Site analysis and assessment
  • Backyard gardening and sustainable agriculture
  • Natural building and appropriate technology
  • Sustainable forestry and creating food forests
  • Animals in the permaculture system
  • Solar greenhouse design
  • Village design and local economics
  • Sustainable social systems and conflict resolution
  • Preserving the harvest
  • Mushroom cultivation

Instructors

  • Steve Whitman, Planner
  • Chris Skoglund, Energy and Climate Analyst
  • Molly Messenger and Josh Arnold, G.A.L.A.
  • David Wichland, Mycologist
  • Bryan Felice, Natural Builder
  • Marylena Sevigney, Designer and Maker
  • Josh Trought, Author and farmer.

Instructor bios may be found at www.dacres.org

Dates include May 16-17; June 13-15; July New England Permaculture Convergence (optional); August 15-16; September 26-27; October 24-25 and November 14-15.

Six weekends of instruction, field trips, and overnight accommodations. Lunch and dinner is provided featuring nourishing organic meals. Registration includes all six weekends, pre-registration is required and may be done online at www.dacres.org

D Acres Permaculture Farm and Educational Homestead is located at 218 Streeter Woods Road; Dorchester, NH, 03266; info@dacres.org603-786-2366

For more information contact: Steve Whitman at 603-381-1798 or steve@resilienceplanning.net

About D Acres of New Hampshire: Permaculture Farm and Educational Homestead, is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization with nearly two decades of experience in permaculture design located on 180 acres in the Western White Mountains Region of New Hampshire. The infrastructure of the D Acres Homestead includes examples of renewable energy systems, a composting toilet system and other sustainable methodologies. The gardens of D Acres exemplify the no till and edible forest garden system. If you want to learn from people living the permaculture lifestyle, our facilities and way of life are based in this ideology. In early April The Community-Scale Permaculture Farm will be published by Chelsea Green Publishing, written by one of D Acres founders, Josh Trought.

SaveOnEnergy.com Crowns the Greenest School’s Basketball Arena

DALLAS, March 19, 2015 /PRNewswire/ – SaveOnEnergy.com®, one of the longest-standing online energy comparison websites, is a big fan of college basketball and saving energy. With the first round of Division 1 men’s basketball games set to tip off this Thursday, they decided to take a look at some of the top basketball universities in the field to see how they stacked up based on their sustainability efforts.

To determine the greenest campus, they took the 16 highest ranked teams in the 2015 NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball bracket and designed their own criteria to re-seed and match up these same 16 schools based on their green efforts. They examined the sustainable initiatives of each school’s basketball arena and found their percentage of new construction that is LEED-certified and overall waste diversion rate. Each of these categories was weighted based on perceived significance.

Every included university was contacted and asked the same questions in order to receive the most accurate information. If schools were unresponsive or unable to provide enough feedback, they used data found on the universities’ websites or the 2014 edition of the Princeton Review’s Guide to 332 Green Colleges.

Results will be revealed throughout the week, and the champion will be crowned Wednesday, March 25.

Follow along with the matchups at: https://www.saveonenergy.com/green-energy/march-mania/

About SaveOnEnergy.com

SaveOnEnergy.com® has built a reputation as an exceptional resource for all energy consumers by partnering with many of the most popular retail energy suppliers in the industry. Since its creation in 2003, SaveOnEnergy.com has helped millions of shoppers find a great rate on electricity and/or natural gas.

When SaveOnEnergy.com first launched, its focus was on the Texas deregulated market. Today, SaveOnEnergy.com works with energy suppliers in 15 markets across the United States, making it easy for all consumers to make informed decisions.

Climate Disruption Not So Sweet for Maple Syrup

Over 80 Flock for Stacks, Speakers and Climate Action

Speakers together - Wilhelm, Carlson, Lane, and Presby

Speakers together – Wilhelm, Carlson, Lane, and Presby

DURHAM, NH – Pancakes and maple syrup brightens even the darkest corners of cabin fever as days get longer and spring slowly emerges from snow driven days to the official mud season. At the University of New Hampshire’s Halloway Commons, the Climate Impacts Pancake Breakfast highlighted the impacts of climate disruption taking place in New Hampshire on the tasty amber colored syrup. Over 80 people came to enjoy maple syrup, hear the speakers and take action to protect our environment. The forum was hosted by the UNH Sustainability Institute and Student Environmental Action Coalition with sponsors Moms Clean Air Force, Union of Concerned Scientists, National Wildlife Federation, League of Conservation Voters, Environment New Hampshire and New Hampshire Sierra Club.

Speaker Dr. Martha Carlson spoke on the specific climate impacts on maple trees and syrup production in New Hampshire and the region. As a maple farmer in Sandwich, NH, Doctor Carlson has researched the ways changing climate trends have affected the level of sweetness in the maple syrup and the timing for tapping over the years.

The tone of the event was squarely focused on solutions and innovation to help preserve the traditional coming of spring in New England – maple syrup. One such solution is the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan that will help reduce climate changing pollution from power plants, the largest source of carbon and greenhouse gases. The Clean Power Plan allows states to adjust the most effective technologies and methods to best reduce pollution to the emissions standards for their state. Flexibility and planning are the hallmarks of the Clean Power Plan – and New Hampshire is expected to be at the front of creating a plan because the state participates in a carbon reduction program already, called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.

“The Clean Power Plan is our best defense to help save maple syrup in New Hampshire,” stated New Hampshire Sierra Club Chapter Director Catherine M. Corkery. “Lowering carbon from power plants and shifting our energy to more renewable sources is the way we can protect our maple trees and local food economy.”

Continue reading Climate Disruption Not So Sweet for Maple Syrup

March 25 Green Energy News

Headline News:

  • The UK low carbon economy was worth £122 billion in 2013 and has been growing at 7% per year, according to government figures. A low carbon investment report from the Department of Energy and Climate Change says the sector supports over 460,000 jobs, or about 1.5% of all UK jobs. [Business Green]

    British rooftop solar array.

    British rooftop solar array.

  • Gas fueled power plants will soon supply all the electricity in Beijing as China strives to cut down pollution levels there. The last of four coal-fired power plants, an 845-MW plant of China Huaneng Group Corp, is scheduled to be closed in 2016. The gas plants will have double the capacity of the old plants. [India Gazette]
  • A Colorado company, Red Rock Biofuels, is planning a $200 million biofuels refinery in Lakeview, Oregon where it will refine jet fuel to be used by Southwest Airlines. The refinery will also produce diesel and naphtha fuel from its wood pulp stock through wood gasification and Fischer-Tropsch catalysis. [CleanTechnica]
  • The US DOE reported that California is the first state to get 5% of its electricity from large-scale solar power installations. In 2014, solar power plants in California generated 9.9 million MWh, more than all other states combined. The report does not count rooftop systems, which are a large part of the total. [SFGate]
  • Carbon Tracker’s report, “The US Coal Crash,” argues that coal demand is in a structural decline that could also befall oil and gas producers world over in coming years. Companies that fail to adapt to technological and policy changes that will ultimately curb greenhouse-gas emissions could lose billions. [Bloomberg]

For more news, please visit geoharvey - Daily News about Energy and Climate Change.

Dartmouth Graduate Student forum on research topics

UVFC Events

Friday, April 3 at 5pm

Upstairs at the Co-op

Upper Valley Food Co-op
193 North Main
White River Junction, VT 05001
802/295-5804

This Forum is Free and open to the Upper Valley community. Please register in-store, or call 802-295-5804 or email info@uppervalleyfood.coop

What’s the Buzz?!?! Upper Valley Food Co-op has the opportunity to team with Dartmouth Graduate Students in offering a forum to discuss various research topics. These students will share their expertise and offer the diverse Upper Valley Community a chance to reflect and exchange understanding. Students hope to better appreciate impacts their research threads may lead to.

Braden Elliott will speak on the relationships between grasses, shrubs, trees & animals, using Native American managed landscapes as models for restoration projects.

Braden Elliott is an ecologist trying to find out why there are self-maintaining meadows in the middle of the Pacific Northwest temperate rainforest, one of the world’s most productive timber regions. He works closely with Tribal and Federal land managers in western Oregon. He is passionate about uncovering new knowledge about how the world works, and using that knowledge to improve natural resource management practices and policies. He is a doctoral student in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Dartmouth, and holds a Bachelors in Anthropology from Missouri State University as well as a Masters in Applied Anthropology from Oregon State University.

Monday, April 6th at 6pm

Acupuncture and Herbs: Ancient Medicine for the Present and Future

Upstairs at the Co-op

Upper Valley Food Co-op
193 North Main
White River Junction, VT 05001
802/295-5804

This talk is Free and open to the Upper Valley community. Please register in-store, or call 802-295-5804 or email info@uppervalleyfood.coop

As the interplay between genetic disposition and environment becomes more clearly understood, western science is moving towards personalized medicine. For time immemorial, Chinese scholar-physicians have recognized this dynamic and employed appropriate diagnostic and treatment strategies honoring each individual.

Using “case studies” of patients, we will explore how Chinese medicine physicians think about health and disease, anatomy and physiology, acupuncture and herbs. We will also talk about “convergence” medicine – the existing partnership and forthcoming synergy between eastern and western medicines – and what this means for a patient in the modern medical system.

Britton Mann holds a doctorate in acupuncture and Oriental medicine and is a licensed acupuncturist in Vermont and New Hampshire. He has a spent much of his life studying the healing arts, including a seventeen year study of yoga, Japanese and Chinese martial arts, and qigong. Prior to practicing acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, he was a massage therapist and yoga teacher in Norwich and New York City. He returned to the Upper Valley this past summer after practicing Chinese medicine in Portland, Oregon.

March 24 Green Energy News

Headline News:

  • Mighty River Power’s gas-fired Southdown power station in Auckland, New Zealand will close at the end of the year. The 140-MW station will be taken apart and sold overseas. MRP said it was closing the Southdown station because of the significant lift in renewable power generation in recent years. [Stuff.co.nz]
Closing Down: Mighty River Power’s gas-fired Southdown power station in Auckland.

Closing Down: Mighty River Power’s gas-fired Southdown power station in Auckland.

  • Germany’s Energiewende clearly has social license. Their electrical mix is already 27% renewable and Die Welt reports that 92% of the respondents in a new poll approve of the transition to renewable energy. 70% of the respondents to that poll said this transition was “Very or exceedingly important.” [CleanTechnica]
  • Earlier, we learned from the state-run Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) that Costa Rica got 100% of its energy from renewables for 75 days straight this year. Now the ICE says reliance on renewables has prompted the country to lower electricity rates by 12%, and the rates will probably continue to drop. [Greentech Media]
  • More than two dozen coal companies in the US have gone bust and others have lost 80% of their market in the past five years because of a potent combination of cheap gas prices, new air quality limits, and increasingly competitive renewable energy, according to a new report by the Carbon Tracker Initiative. [Business Green]
  • For the American Legislative Exchange Council, defections keep on coming. Now oil giant BP has left it. Among earlier organizations leaving is Google, whose Chairman Eric Schmidt denouncing ALEC for “literally lying” about global warming. Facebook, eBay, Yahoo, and Occidental Petroleum have also left ALEC. [SFGate]

For more news, please visit geoharvey - Daily News about Energy and Climate Change.

Climate Change Not So Sweet for Maple Syrup

Celebrate and Protect NH’s Favorite Sign of Spring

DURHAM, NH – On the eve of New Hampshire’s traditional Maple Syrup Weekend, local groups will host a forum on the Climate Impacts on Maple Syrup with Panel and Pancake Breakfast. Local maple syrup tappers, scientists and experts will speak about climate impacts on our forests and maple trees. Residents will have the chance to take action with local organizations and enjoy pancakes with real New Hampshire maple syrup. UNH Student Environmental Action Coalition will host different activities to show public support so that we all can help keep the sap flowing for generations to come. The first 50 people to attend will get a free sample of NH maple syrup to take home!

Doors open at 7:30 AM and the program starts at 8:00 AM on Wednesday, March 25th in the Squamscott Room of the Holloway Commons near the Memorial Union Building on the campus of the University of New Hampshire in Durham. RSVP: http://tinyurl.com/o6wsvzb

Contact Catherine Corkery at 603-224-8222 or Catherine.corkery@sierraclub.org

WHO: Free and Open to the Public
WHAT: Climate Impacts on Maple Syrup with Panel and Pancakes
WHEN: March 25, 2015
TIME: Doors open at 7:30AM program starts at 8AM
WHERE: Squamscott Room in the Holloway Commons at the University of NH 75 Main Street Durham, NH

Speakers:

  • Dr. Martha Carlson, owner of Range View Farm, maple tapper, scientist, conservationist, and educator
  • Chris Keeley, Communities & Climate Program Coordinator, UNH Cooperative Extension
  • Erin Lane, Northeast Regional Climate Hub Director for Partnerships
  • Jennifer Wilhelm, NH Food Alliance at the UNH Sustainability Institute
  • David and Nancy Borden local maple tappers

Doors will open at 7:30 AM and the panel discussion and breakfast will begin at 8:00 AM. Free and open to the public at Squamscott Room in the Holloway Commons at University of New Hampshire, 75 Main Street Durham, NH. RSVP is required, http://tinyurl.com/o6wsvzb. The first 50 people to come will receive a free sample of NH maple syrup to take home. Following the presentation, UNH Student Environmental Action Coalition will lead various positive and meaningful ways to engage our elected officials in support of the Clean Power Plan from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Sponsors: Moms Clean Air Force, Union of Concerned Scientists, League of Conservation Voters, National Wildlife Federation, Environment New Hampshire and New Hampshire Sierra Club.

Hosted by the UNH Student Environmental Action Coalition and The Sustainability Institute.