Connecting the Dots to Live More Sustainably

Culinary herb garden

Culinary herb garden

Note that the article posted a moment ago was published accidentally! Please read this version instead!

Are you a vegan? Do you shop locally? Buy organic food? Belong to a time bank, co-op or informal sharing collective? Avoid plastic? Collect water in rain barrels? Buy electricity from a renewable generator? Use local currency? Commute via bike or public transportation? Live in an eco-friendly home?

There are many ways to live more sustainably today…and many “movements” advocating for one of these ways or another. But in this information-savvy age, with so many opportunities to “follow” those who think just like us, we can easily slip into a “silo” when it comes to our views and actions. Making connections between these silos can open doors to some surprising and innovative ways to live more sustainably.

Just consider some of the doors opened by edible gardening. Read more

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Organic and local on the winter menu

greens

Local mixed greens with organic beets and goat cheese

If you live in the Delaware River Valley — or any place with four seasons — you know it’s more challenging to eat local and organic in the dead of January. Of course, if you’ve been industrious and built yourself a greenhouse or a few hoop houses, you can enjoy year-round produce local to your backyard. But for everyone else, a sustainable winter meal can take a bit of planning.

Doing the best you can

In late summer and early fall, the abundance of fresh, local and organic produce can make you feel like the proverbial kid in the candy store. The bounty of your garden, the variety at the farmers’ markets, the charm of tiny roadside stands where the produce is garden-grown and the purchase is made on the “honor system”… .  Before you know it, you’ve bought enough produce to feed an army. Read more

How to be a ‘Localist’ in the Delaware River Valley: Buy Local

This is the first in a six-part series on the connections between “going local” and living sustainably.

Are you a “localist”? The answer may be “yes” if you make an effort to buy food, gifts and necessities from businesses that are independent and locally owned.

Why buy local?

Imagine living in a part of the country where “shopping” involves pulling on and off busy highways and fighting for parking spots in strip malls just so you can peruse the aisles of mass-market chain stores where most of the merchandise comes from far-away lands. Of course, it’s easy to escape that fate here in the Delaware River Valley. You can Read more

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

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.

Locavores are making a difference

Those of us committed to buying from local farmers feel like we’re having a positive impact on our communities. Now it’s a little easier to quantify that impact, thanks to two recent studies — one national, another local.

According to an article posted today on www.msnbc (“USDA: ‘Locally grown’ food a $4.8 billion business”),  food sold either directly to local consumers or to local groceries, restaurants and other “intermediaries,” garnered $4.8 billion in revenue in 2008. The USDA predicts that local food sales will reach $7 billion this year. That growth apparently represents an increase in both farm-to-institution and direct-to-consumer sales. In the latter area, 136,000 farms now sell directly, vs. 86,000 in the early 1990s. And there are now 5,274 farmers markets, up from 2,756 in 1998. – Read more

Who’s got fresh food?

The New Leaf CSA (community-supported agricult...

Image via Wikipedia

If you’re interested in buying local food, you may already be shopping at one or more of these Delaware River Valley farmer’s markets, farm markets or community supported agriculture (CSA) programs. They’re all good places to get fresh, delicious food… and put money back into your local economy. Why not support more of them by coordinating farm-market shopping with errands or other trips around the area? – Read more