Fresh food photo op — keepin’ it local

Tomato, cucumber and scallion salad

A tasty and colorful salad made with all local Delaware River Valley ingredients — tomatoes and kirby cucumbers from Maximuck’s (www.maximucks.com), organic scallions from Gravity Hill Farm (www.gravityhillfarm.com) and fresh marjoram and oregano from the garden

Fingerling potato salad

A delicious potato salad made with fingerlings from None Such Farm Market (www.nonesuchfarms.com), more Gravity Hill scallions and organic parsley, marjoram and oregano from the garden

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Five tips for a sustainable summer in the Delaware River Valley

Bridge over the Wickecheoke Creek

Bridge over the Wickecheoke Creek

The start of summer is the ideal time to rethink lifestyle choices and find ways to live a bit more green and local. The Delaware River Valley offers plenty of opportunities. If you find it helpful to make lists, consider one that looks something like this:

1.    Eat local

This is the easiest time of year to align your appetite with your values and think “farm to table.” All of the Delaware River Valley farmers’ markets are up and running. Farm-owned groceries (like None Such Market, Buckingham, PA) and those selling farm-fresh food (like Homestead Farm Market, Lambertville, NJ) are well-stocked with locally grown produce. And roadside stands are popping up along our country roads to sell the surplus of small family farms and large, backyard gardens. Over the next few months, with so much great-looking produce available within miles of your home, the most difficult choice won’t be whether to buy local but where to stock up on the week’s groceries. You may want to be loyal to one venue – or spread your food dollars around and try them all.

2.    Shop local

The Delaware River Valley is known for its charming small towns, from Lambertville, Frenchtown and Milford in New Jersey to New Hope, Doylestown and Newtown in Bucks County, PA. Summer is a great time to spend days exploring your favorite river towns and purchasing what you can at local shops and restaurants. Thanks to the “local multiplier effect,” even small purchases can do a lot for the local economy. When you buy from a locally owned business, your dollar may circulate within the community many more times than a dollar spent at a national chain. (See http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/go-local/the-local-multiplier-effect for more about the local multiplier effect. See the 11/14/11 Fresh post, “Locavores are making a difference,” for details on how one farmers’ market is contributing to the local economy.) Ultimately, buying local can help the small businesses you love survive the tough economy – and help preserve the small-town charm of our area for years to come.

 3.    Enjoy local events

This is the time of year to enjoy the area’s many outdoor events. From 4-H fairs, craft shows and green fairs to local food events and community days, summer events can help draw people to our area and give a boost to the local economy. One great example is the New Hope-Lambertville Friday Night Fireworks, which brought some 6,500 visitors to the area each weekend during the 2011 season. To learn what’s going on this summer, check out the Chamber of Commerce site for a particular town or visit the following sites: http://buckscountyalive.com; http://hunterdoncountyalive.com; http://visitbuckscounty.com; and www.hunterdontourism.org/calendar.asp.

4.    Enjoy open spaces

If you care about the environment, what better way to show it than by spending more time with Mother Nature. There’s no shortage of beautiful outdoor spaces to enjoy in the Delaware River Valley, whether you prefer to hike, bike, canoe, paint en plein air or simply relax and take it all in. Some favorites include Bowman’s Wildflower Preserve, Peace Valley park, High Rocks, the Wickecheoke Creek, the canal towpaths on both sides of the Delaware and, of course, the river itself. For information on the area’s many open spaces, check out www.co.hunterdon.nj.us/depts/parks/programs.htm or http://www.buckscounty.org/government/departments/parksandrec/index.aspx. Also visit the Hunterdon Land Trust Alliance’s site, http://hunterdonlandtrust.org/where-we-work/visit-a-preserve/, to find preserves open to the public – and learn how you can get involved with preserving more open space.

5.    Green your summer

Wherever you live, summer can provide opportunities to make subtle lifestyle changes for the sake of the environment and your health. That may mean waiting to turn on the air conditioner until your home truly heats up, remembering to turn it off when the temperature drops after a cooling rain or, if you’re hardy enough, simply relying more on fans and a good cross-breeze. To compensate for higher summer energy use and costs – and take advantage of the increased daylight at this time of year – try to turn off any lights or electronics not in use at the moment. If you haven’t done so already, consider replacing your incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents. And since droughts are common this time of year, try to find ways to conserve water, like shortening shower time, running the dishwasher only when it’s full and investing in rain barrels to collect water for use in your garden. There’s no bad time to switch to eco-friendly household cleansers – or to take the more cost-efficient step of making your own with vinegar, baking soda and other old-fashioned ingredients. If you’re doing a little home repair this summer, don’t forget to shop for green choices, from citrus-based paint removers and low-VOC paints to sustainably grown forestry products and non-toxic green furnishings.

What are your ideas for having a summer that’s green, local, sustainable – and fun? Comment here or contact Fresh at askfresh_at_comcast_dot_net.

Greening your blueprints

A recent survey1 found that green building has been on the rise over the last few years, a somewhat surprising trend given the state of the housing market. On the other hand, perhaps it’s another example of how many of us, faced with the need to spend less, have chosen to align our purchases with our values.

Photo source: www.content.usatoday.com

If you’re getting ready to remodel, tackle small, affordable upgrades or even build something new, there are many ways to make your home – and your lifestyle – a bit greener. Building green can help you lower energy use and costs, integrate your home into its natural landscape and enjoy the benefits of using materials that are non-toxic, eco-friendly and perhaps even local.

“Green building” may conjure images of upscale design with costly details – or conversely, back-to-nature shacks lacking creature comforts. Of course, it can mean either – and plenty of things in between. Whatever type of project you envision, there are several factors to consider. Read more

Fresh ideas here

Are you seeking ways to make your lifestyle greener? more local? simpler? more community oriented? There are so many “sustainability” trends today, from locavorism to collaborative consumption to “localist” economics to eco-consciousness and the triple bottom line. Yet it can be a real challenge to sift through all the information out there — and find just what you need to live a bit more sustainably here in the Delaware River Valley. That’s where Fresh comes in.

Look to Fresh for reliable ideas — essay-style and informational blog posts — plus Local Resource pages with links to farm fresh food, recycling info, green businesses and much more. Fresh can help you find what you need to make those small, yet meaningful, adjustments that add up to a more sustainable way of life.

Fresh also wants to hear your stories about living more sustainably. To share a tale, contact Fresh at askfresh at comcast dot net.