December 4, 2013 at 12:00 pm (Angie Gregory, Contributing Writer, Sustainability)
Tags: Gift Wrapping, gift wrapping alternative, resiliency, Sustainability, sustainable holidays, Wrapping Paper
Reusable & Creative Wrapping Alternatives
Alright, it’s here. We have turned the corner into winter and holiday season is upon us. There is excitement and anticipation and joy ahead (as well as a healthy dose of anxiety and stress). I usually reflect on the previous year’s gift giving and how to come up with original ideas this year that save us money, time, and just feel good. This year I’m focusing on hand-made because I know it feels good for me to get creative. I purchased materials I was excited about (felt fabric) and could create a myriad of projects from (french press cozies, pencil holders, bookmarks, ornaments, pot holders, etc). I also realized that some of the things I make regularly anyway are enjoyed by others and to celebrate that. Are you known for your cooking or baking? Do people love the photos you take? The other year we cut out family pictures and put them into old bottle caps and covered them with epoxy resin, and put a circular magnet on the back as keepsakes. Spending less on tangible things and focusing more on giving hand-made helps us tap back into the idea that it’s about the gesture and not the grandeur.
Wrapping paper is often just used once and then thrown away. I wanted to share some sweet, easy, and achievable ideas I have seen as alternatives to traditional gift wrap… Read what ideas Angie shares this month…
May 1, 2013 at 7:00 am (Angie Gregory, Contributing Writer, Hampshire County, Sustainability)
Tags: Pioneer Valley, Public Transit Bus, Public Transportation, Sustainability
No Seat Belts
We take advantage of the bus on weekends sometimes just for fun. With hands off the wheel we can engage more, help more, and communicate without worry of the road. Plus, ask any young child if they’d like to ride the bus and to them it’s an adventure! (Photo credit: Angie Gregory)
My nine year old rides the public transit bus to school, with no adult chaperone. Just with some classmates, typically some war vets, and sometimes a doughnut in hand, this is how she experiences the responsibility of being on time. As well as the reward of it: the once a week ‘doughnut day’ is our incentive for getting out of the house on time (or early rather). It helps the kids move through the morning routine without too much derailing. Sure, there might be some bribing (read incentivizing) going on here, but there’s a lot more to our story.
We made the choice to send our child to a charter school. We garden and grow some of the food we eat, and think a lot about where the rest of our food comes from and what’s in it. We’re in the mindset of being purposeful with our decisions. We think a lot about giving our kids the most ‘optimal’ environment to thrive. It’s our natural inclination as parents. We all have this drive, right? As parents we’ve thought that riding the city bus can provide valuable real world experiences.
But isn’t there some stigma around public transit? We’ve all absorbed the less than stellar conversations between some public transit riders. And now my daughter is among these regulars. She’s been riding this bus route since she was a kindergartener. Didn’t a mom in NYC receive backlash because she sent her similarly aged child onto the subway to commute on his own? Am I in neglect, or putting my child in danger?
I’ve been inspired by my daughter’s un-phased character. She’s not greasing profanities or languishing in any noticeable way. In fact she’s building friendships on the bus, learning about how to get around, recognizing other buses around town (kind of like the car complex we experience when we own a Subaru and we start seeing them everywhere), feeling empowered, and being rewarded with responsibility.
We take advantage of the bus on weekends sometimes just for fun. With hands off the wheel we can engage more, help more, and communicate without worry of the road. Plus, ask any young child if they’d like to ride the bus and to them it’s an adventure. The bus money is a novelty, the driver a chuffer, the steps like floors of a building, the freedom to choose your own seat, big windows….no seatbelts!
We don’t necessarily live right on the bus line. You don’t need to even live in a city in order to ride. We have to get to the stop by car most mornings. However, spring has brought out our bikes again and yesterday we enjoyed a side-by-side ride into town to catch the bus. First her bus arrives, and then mine right after. Life isn’t without coordination and planning and now that these rhythms have become habit we’ve worked through the humps of ‘I have to walk too far after the bus drops us off’ or ‘There was a man on the bus sitting near me that smelled like peppers. And then another man got on the bus, and he smelled like peppers.’
I can’t guarantee there won’t be some kind of altercation or disturbance, but it’s not like the bus is without boundaries. There are other eyes, ears, and helpers (community) on the bus to diffuse and report. That’s the trust I have in us as people and the effort I place in my own heart to do the same. Oh, and did I happen to mention the 45 minutes of driving time it saves us in the mornings…equating to rewards on gas, money, and inevitably our natural resources.
It might not seem like much, but this extra effort to be resourceful has enriched our lives in other unforeseen ways. When we participate in our community we’re building familiarity, safety, and ownership where they didn’t exist before, and raising kids to be engaged in the place they live.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Angie Gregory settled in the Western MA 6 years ago after many years of traveling the country. She lives in Northampton, MA with her husband and three kids and is an avid gardener and studies herbal medicine. She has worked in the community fostering projects like Grow Food Northampton and started Mother Herb Diaper Service out of her home after the birth of her second child. Her business is now a cooperative venture
and has relocated to Holyoke, MA under the name of Simple Diaper & Linen.
April 16, 2013 at 9:00 am (Suggested Activity, Sustainability)
Tags: Earth Day, Recycling, Sustainability
Reuse & Recycling Rally Offers 3 Ways to Practice the 3 R’s!
Northampton Reuse & Recycling Rally happens Saturday, April 20th from 9am-12noon at Smith Vocational High School. Find new-to-you toys for the kids at the community tag sale, shred confidential papers, donate old baby equipment, recycle well-loved pants with holes in the knees and t-shirts with juice box stains for the textile drive, and bring by those hotel shampoos and conditioners from your family winter vacation to Florida to donate to the Hampshire County Interfaith Emergency Shelter. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)
The Northampton Department of Public Works is sponsoring another reuse & recycling rally on Saturday, April 20th, 2013 at the Smith Vocational High School from 9am-12pm, in cooperation with the City’s ReUse Committee, the Salvation Army & ProShred of Wilbraham. This is the third in a series of events in 2013 to promote waste reduction, reuse and recycling of unusual materials. Once again, it’ll be a three ring circus: a community tag sale and donation drop off, a shredding event for confidential papers and a textile drive to keep usable goods out of the landfill.
COMMUNITY TAG SALE & DONATION DROP OFF
The Community Tag Sale is a flea market with a twist. Fifty-four sellers will load up their trunks and sell stuff from the back of their vehicles in the Vocational School’s back lot at 80 Locust Street (Route 9, Northampton, MA). Each will be given two parking spaces- one to park in and the other for sales (note: pre-registration is required for vendors through the Northampton DPW. Yard sale devotees will be delighted with bargains at this huge multi-family tag sale!
The Salvation Army will be on site to accept donations of small household goods, including but not limited to kitchen ware, fireplace sets, lamps, wall decorations, board games, books, DVD’s/CD’s, tools, sporting goods, luggage, radios, umbrellas… practically anything in good condition except mattresses, upholstered furniture, and baby equipment.
Voluntary donations for the Hampshire County Interfaith Emergency Shelter will be gratefully accepted in exchange for this service (hotel-sized shampoos, conditioners & hand soaps, men’s and women’s socks & underwear, small deodorants, toothbrushes & small toothpastes, razors & shaving cream, combs & brushes, women’s hygiene products, gloves & mittens, etc.
The Salvation Army will also be accepting clothing, shoes, accessories and textiles. Textiles that are unsuitable for reuse or resale will be reprocessed into polishing cloths for industrial use, fibers for insulation, soundproofing, carpet padding and building materials. Acceptable textiles can be worn, torn, stained or missing buttons- but they must be clean and dry.
Concurrently, a free regional shredding event for confidential papers will be offered to residents and small businesses. ProShred’s mobile shredding unit will provide confidential destruction of documents on site. Participants can deliver up to two recycling bins to be safely recycled, and pre-registration is not required.
For more information contact Karen at 413-587-1059 or at email@example.com, find them Facebook (“Northampton ReUse”) or go to the DPW’s website at www.northamptonma.gov/dpw/Recycling/reuse.
March 4, 2013 at 3:00 pm (Hampshire County, Suggested Activity, Sustainability)
Tags: Kid's Swap Meet, Northampton, Northampton Reuse Committee, Pioneer Valley, Recycling, Sustainability, upcycle, western massachusetts
Northampton’s Free Kid’s Stuff Exchange
Smith Vocational High School Cafeteria
Saturday March 9 from 8am-12pm
Upcycle Artist, MaryLynne Boisvert, will lead an art activity for families to create fun, wearable garments form upcycled clothing.
The Northampton DPW’s ReUse Committee is sponsoring a free “Kid’s Stuff Exchange” at Smith Vocational High School this coming Saturday March 9th, 2013. Pre-registration is required to participate from 8-11am, opening up to the general public from 11am-12noon.
This swap meet will allow local families to exchange clothing, toys, books and sporting goods in good condition at no cost. Participants might find almost anything for kids ages 0-12 except baby gear (car seats, strollers, cribs), stuff with parts missing (puzzles, games), items with possible cutting/choking/lead hazards or over-sized items (play structures). From 11am-12noon, the general public is welcome to come and take whatever they can use. At noon, any remaining items will be donated to the Salvation Army.
Kids will be welcome. Childcare will not be provided, but representatives from the Artisans of WMASS, Northampton’s Early Childhood Program, and other local reuse & craft artists will offer free “make & take” art activities for ages 4+ (with adult) at the Kid’s Stuff Exchange from 9am–12Noon:
- Lou Leelyn: Transform plastic trash into flowers & accessories
- Aviva Sieber & daughter Tali: Create sculptures from household recyclables
- Jenny Lisa Kass: Melt old crayons into fun, new shapes
- Zoe Ma: Make personal creations from First Night buttons
- MaryLynne Boisvert: Create fun, wearable garments from up-cycled clothing
Space is limited, and participants will receive more information when they register. Signing up is easy! Just provide a full name, mailing address, daytime phone number and email address by phone: 413-587-1059; or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. No dealers, please. More info is available on Facebook www.facebook.com/NorthamptonReUse and on the DPW’s website www.northamptonma.gov/dpw/Recycling/reuse.
January 9, 2013 at 9:57 am (Berkshire County, Suggested Activity, Sustainability, Volunteer Opportunity)
Tags: Berkshire County, Berkshires, Collaboration, Community Development, Pittsfield, Pittsfield Resilience Circle, Recycling, Repair Café, Sustainability, western massachusetts
Pittsfield Resilience Circle Host a Repair Café
Saturday, January 19th, 2013
Janet Henderson writes:
The Repair Café concept was formulated in 2009 in the Netherlands by journalist and publicist Martine Postma and sustainability accelerator Peter van Vliet. Since January 2011, the Repair Café Foundation has provided support to local groups in the Netherlands and other countries wishing to start their own Repair Cafe (repaircafe.org). [Image: First Repair Café held in Brussels.]
What do you do with a broken toaster? Or with a bike that needs repair? Or with a pair of pants when a seam rips? Or a partially dysfunctional umbrella? Throw it away? Certainly not!
The Pittsfield Resilience Circle is organizing the Berkshires’ first ever Repair Café. It will be held in Pittsfield on Saturday, Jan. 19 from 1 to 5 p.m. in the St. Stephen’s Church basement at 67 East St. The event is entirely free.
[The Repair Café] involves people in the community giving to other people in the community, making needed repairs of all kinds. Various repair persons will be available to fix small appliances, clothing and other fabric items, bicycles, toys, small furniture items, computers, and so on. Anyone with a broken item in need of repair may bring it to the Repair Café between 1 and 5 p.m. on Saturday, January 19th. We will fix as many articles as we can during that time. We’re also offering free refreshments for those waiting in line.
The Pittsfield Resilience Circle could use more volunteers for the Repair Cafe. Persons with experience in any kind of repair craft or who would like to provide general help, please call Tom Harter at 413-212-8589 or email Janet Henderson at email@example.com. The Repair Café is looking for more sponsors (those who donate $20 or more). We are thankful for our sponsors, including the Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT), who is contributing both money and time!
By holding a Repair Café, the Pittsfield Resilience Circle wants to help reduce waste, promote repair skills, teach us all to be more self-sufficient, have fun, come together in a non-consumerist way, forge bonds of friendship through mutual dependency, and make Pittsfield a better place to live.
ABOUT RESILIENCE CIRCLES
Members of the Pittsfield Resilience Circle meet twice a month to learn together and become better friends through doing things for and with each other. The Resilience Circle is based on information available at localcircles.org. The group also has an informal Gift Circle. Information about Gift Circles can be found on the OpenCollaboration’s Blog.
December 25, 2012 at 9:00 am (Sustainability)
Tags: Christmas, Environment, gift wrap, Recycling, sustainablity, Wrapping Paper
It’s a Wrap! Time to Recycle!
Gift wrap IS recyclable! Reuse what you can and toss the ripped up stuff into your paper recycling bin (Do not include gift wrap with metallic ink, glitter, or foil). When opening gifts, use a brown paper bag to capture gift wrap, tissue paper, greeting cards, envelopes and boxes.
Unwrapping gifts this morning? Have a mini-mountain of wrapping paper, or pieces strewn across your living room? Did you know that all wrapping paper is recyclable (except wrapping paper with foil)? Recycle your wrapping paper this year with your other paper.
Also, keep in mind that all cardboard gift boxes, tissue paper, gift cards and paper shopping bags are recyclable (just no foil or glitter), and you might be able to bring Styrofoam packing peanuts to the UPS store for reuse.
On the other hand, ribbons, bows and tinsel cannot be recycled are not. Next year (or for any other special gift giving occasion), try making your own gift bows from old magazine pages. Check out this tutorial from How About Orange.
Read the rest of this entry »
November 12, 2012 at 6:00 am (Franklin County, Hampshire County, Sustainability)
Tags: Alternative to Holiday Giving, Consumerism, Consumption, Holidays, Regifitng, western massachusetts
Holidays are a Time to Give and Regift
Western MA libraries offer youth patrons a chance to focus on giving and not just receiving during the holiday season.
During the holiday season many Western MA libraries organize community alternatives to holiday consumerism and consumption while enabling their youth patrons to think about giving rather than just receiving for the holidays.
For over 20 years the Dickinson Memorial Library in Northfield has hosted an annual Children’s Holiday Bazaar for their youth patrons. For several months leading up to the bazaar the library asks town residents to donate small items to be regifted during the bazaar (donations of gift bags, wrap, tags and tape are welcomed too). On the day of the bazaar the children’s room is transformed into a pop-up shop where kids ages 5-11 years old may shop for their family. All gifts are 50-cents, gift wrapping included. During the bazaar parents are not allowed into the room and younger children are escorted by their very own personal shoppers – 6th graders and National Honor Society volunteers. This year the Children’s Holiday Bazaar happens on Saturday, December 8th from 10am-12noon.
Newer to this regifting tradition is the Meekins Market at the Meekins Library in Williamsburg, now in its fifth year! All patrons are welcome to both shop at and donate to the Meekins Market, which begins in late November and runs through December. The market is a special in-house tag sale where families will find lots of small (and not so small) inexpensive recycled gifts to give friends and family. It’s a great place for children to find presents to give their parents, grandparents and teachers. Library patrons can stop in and shop (or donate items for regifting) any time during library hours. For more information call: 413-538-6489 or 413-268-7472.
Does your library have a holiday tradition, new or old, you’d like to share? We’d love to hear! All of these great traditions and ideas are an inspiration for communities both in and outside our region!
[Photo credit: (ccl) Sarah Parrott]
September 8, 2012 at 12:00 pm (Hampshire County, Sustainability, Take Action, Video)
Tags: Amherst, Permaculture, Sustainability, UMass
Growing a Model Sustainable Campus:
UMass Permaculture Documentary Series
UMass Permaculture Committee writes, “Together, we have the unique ability to create huge positive global transformation, and inspire more colleges and universities, towns and cities, and all communities to adopt permaculture and sustainable design principles into their Master Planning. A powerful video can sometimes be a catalyst for this kind of big change, and the goal of this entire project is to inspire direct action.”
With your help, several Western MA elementary schools could be the recipients of a UMass funded, designed and installed permaculture garden!
UMass Permaculture Committee writes, “Please help us to make this video (above) “go viral” and thus, furthering the UMass Amherst and global sustainability movement. Consider posting this video link on social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and e-mailing it to family, friends and colleagues. http://bit.ly/Rnx5Ot – If we achieve 50,000 views by September 15, 2012, UMass Permaculture and sponsors will donate fruit and nut trees to 4 local schools, which is part of our vision to co-create more edible, ecological, and educational landscapes throughout the community!”
To see the UMass Permaculture Documentary Series in it’s entirety, follow these links. Each video is approximately 5mins:
May 2, 2012 at 12:00 pm (Hampden County, Hampshire County, Sustainability)
Tags: Organic Lawn Care, Organic Parks in Western MA, Parks, Western Massachuetts
5 Local Parks to Implement Organic Lawn Care Practices
Look Park in Florence offers recreational opportunities for walkers, runners, bikers, and other users. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)
Five municipal parks in the Hampshire and Hampden county areas will transition from using synthetic petrochemical fertilizers and pesticides to using organic practices and materials. These parks attract thousands of visitors each year, creating an ideal opportunity to demonstrate the benefits and beauty of organic lawn care. This is GREAT news for families, pets and our natural environment!
Participating Western MA parks include:
- School Street Park in Agawam—within walking distance of the Connecticut River, School Street Park features 50 acres of land with four multi-purpose athletic fields, a handicap accessible playscape, a basketball court, shuffleboard and bocce ball courts, walking trails, picnic tables, and a historic barn. The park has a high volume of adult and children using its facilities.
- Look Park in Florence —Look Park offers recreational opportunities for walkers, runners, bikers, and other users. One of its focal points is a grass 2,200-person capacity outdoor concert theatre. Earlier this year, using a Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) grant, this outdoor theater transitioned to a petrochemical- and pesticide-free venue.
- Greenwood Park in Longmeadow—the park abuts Greenwood Center, which houses the Council on Aging and the Longmeadow Park and Recreation Childcare Center. The Childcare Center uses Greenwood Park daily for its outdoor activities, as does the Council on Aging for certain seasonal events.
- Town Center Park in Ludlow—the Town plans to use TURI funding to transition this park, which hosts a summer community concert series, into a pesticide- and petrochemical-free space. The park is located in a highly visible area in the center of Town and the concert series is well attended.
- Wistariahurst Museum Grounds in Holyoke—in 1959, Wistariahurst was given to the City of Holyoke for cultural and educational purposes. The grounds contain extensive ornamental gardens and an expansive lawn. The museum is home to the Master Gardener’s Association and hosts weekly meetings and multiple plant sales and regional conferences throughout the year.
In addition to their actual lawn care programs, each park will participate in an extensive public awareness and promotion campaign including workshops and seminars, display banners, lawn signs, brochures, and promotions at local park events.
Read the rest of this entry »
April 20, 2012 at 10:30 am (Suggested Activity, Sustainability, Take Action)
Tags: Community Service, Earth Day, earth day festival, Environment, Massachusetts, Recycling, Things to do on Earth Day in Western Massachusetts, Western MA, western massachusetts
Earth Day Weekend 2012
Earth Day is this weekend and there are several ways families can be eco and community minded this weekend and next.
Volunteering in their community can help kids learn to appreciate the resources available to them, and spring clean-ups are a great way to get involved. Here are five community service clean-ups which families can take part in:
- In Plainfield the Historical Society will be planting sugar maples, a tree with great importance to our local culture and history. Join them in planting more of these important natural resources for generations to come.
- In Great Barrington families can volunteer to prepare the Housatonic Riverwalk for the summer (River walk tours follow the clean up).
- In Williamstown the Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation welcomes families to help them clear land and mark a new trail.
- And families can help clean up downtown Westfield at one of many locations around town.
- Then next weekend the Springfield Museums invites families to come help them clean up their grounds.
Looking for an Earth Day community celebration? The annual Amherst Sustainability Festival happens on the town common this Saturday and on Sunday there will be an Earth Day Festival at the Springfield Museums! Both events will have live music, hands-on activities, and opportunities to discover the work of eco-friendly businesses and non-profits.
Other ways the community is marking Earth Day include a screening of The Lorax at the Western Gateway Heritage State Park in North Adams, a seed-planting activity at River Valley Market in Northampton, earth-friendly crafts made out of recycled bottles at the Amelia Park Children’s Museum in Westfield, and the Great Cloth Diaper Change happening simultaneously in both the Berkshires and Pioneer Valley.
Looking for ideas on how to participate in Earth Day, every day? Here are four recycling ideas:
- Trophy Recycling Program: Do you have old trophies cluttering up your attic from your days of glory? Did you know there is a Trophy Recycling Program you can donate those beauties to to support non-profit organizations? Find out how you can conduct a Trophy Recycling Drive and collect trophies to be passed along rather than ending up in a landfill or on the free table at your next tag sale!
- Keys for Kindness: How many old, unidentified keys can your kids find in your junk drawer? Have them take a look, pull them out, and mail them off to Keys for Kindness. Every key mailed in goes towards raising money for M.S., and is an excellent way to recycle keys from previous cars, unused locks and unknown origins!
- National Crayon Recycling Program: Did you know there is a National Crayon Recycling Program that families, schools, day cares, restaurants, etc. can send their unwanted, broken and rejected crayons to for recycling? Find out how this program works and how you can set up a crayon collect in your local school, library, or community center.
- Recycling Shoes into Art: Wondering what to do with that single shoe(s) that is missing it’s matching pair? Donate it to the Art Garden in Shelburne Falls this Friday, April 20th! They are hosting a free shoe-decorating workshop for the village Art Walks and welcome the donation of shoes (single or paired). Drop by any time between 3-7pm this Friday to donate and/or decorate! Art Garden is located at 14 Depot St.
Looking for more ideas? Local families in Western Mass offer helpful tips showing that it IS easy being green. Here are over 10 suggestions on how to celebrate Earth Day and make each day a little greener. Get inspired and share your own idea and inspire others!
April 11, 2012 at 1:00 pm (Berkshire County, Hampshire County, Suggested Activity, Sustainability)
Tags: Amherst Sustainability Festival, Berkshire Community College, Berkshires, Center for EcoTechnology, Earth Day, oneShirt National Clothing Challenge, Pioneer Valley, Textile Drive, western massachusetts
Textile Drives for Earth Week in the Berkshires & Pioneer Valley
Last year nearly 100 schools participated in the oneShirt National Clothing Challenge, collecting over 16 tons of recycled textiles!
What does your family do with outgrown clothes when they’ve already been handed down as many times as possible? How about participating in a textile drive!
Center for EcoTechnology will be partnering with Goodwill in Pittsfield on Saturday, April 14th for a textile donation drive! Families can also bring documents for shredding, courtesy of Valley Green Shredding, and donate computer and small household appliances. Goodwill is located at 158 Tyler Street and the event will run from 10am-2pm.
Then for Earth Week, Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield is hosting a used clothing drive the week of April 16- 20! Sponsored by SustainU, a Pittsfield company producing 100% recycled t-shirts, the drive will be taking place on college campuses around the country. As part of the oneShirt National Clothing Challenge, schools will be competing against each other to collect the largest amount (in terms of weight) of used clothing. During last year’s drive, over 16 tons of clothes were collected! Clothes donated will be kept out of landfills and donated to organizations who use recycled clothing sales to provide people with valuable work experience (such as Goodwill).
Donating clothing is a way to de-clutter your closets in a way that is environmentally friendly, and it can teach kids about disposing of unwanted items responsibly. Clothes can be dropped off at Berkshire Community College’s Susan B. Anthony Lounge or at Goodwill Industries at 158 Tyler Street in Pittsfield (bags must be marked BCC Clothing Drive) between April 16th and 20th. For more information, contact the BCC Student Life Office at 413-236-1660.
And the week will conclude with a textile drive to benefit the Amherst Survival Center and the Fisher Home Hospice Shop at the 3rd Annual Amherst Sustainability Festival in Amherst on Saturday, April 21st from 10am-4pm.
[Photo credit: (ccl) Nick Zadrozny]
April 11, 2012 at 10:00 am (Hampshire County, Suggested Activity, Sustainability)
Tags: Amherst, Earth Day, hampshire county, Sustainability Festival, western massachusetts
Amherst Sustainability Festival on the Town Common
Saturday, April 21st, 2012
The Raging Grannies performed at the 1st Annual Amherst Sustainability Festival in 2010, singing for peace and justice. This year at the 3rd Annual Festival, featured talent includes the Piti Theatre Company, Carrie Ferguson, Jay Mankita, Who’da Funk It and Iroko Nuevo.
Stephanie Ciccarello, Amherst Sustainability Festival Coordinator, writes:
The 3rd Annual Amherst Sustainability Festival is being held on Saturday, April 21st from 10am-4pm on the Amherst Town Common. There’s something for everyone! Learn how you can save money via energy efficiency in your home and/or business, learn about tree care, participate in an Eco-Hero scavenger hunt and see live entertainment, hula hoops, play games, face painting and more! Support local artisans, sustainable product and energy suppliers, as well as non-profit and other agencies, by shopping at over 100 vendor booths.
- This year’s featured talent includes the Piti Theatre Company, Carrie Ferguson, Jay Mankita, Who’da Funk It and Iroko Nuevo.
- See baby goats, demonstrations by Pure Flight Disc Golf and Ultimate, martial arts by Moving Zen Karate, hooping by Alottahoopla and electric vehicle displays by the Pioneer Valley Electric Automobile Association.
- Booth demonstrations include Lou Leelyn of Lou’s Upcycles.
- Arbor Day highlights feature bucket lift rides, tree identification activities and games led by Jim Terruso, Mt. Tom Park Ranger, free seedlings provided by WD Cowls Inc., Land Company and a display of the Amherst school’s 4th – 6th grade entrants and winners of the Arbor Day poster contest!
- Bring your unwanted clean and dry clothing, bedding, linens, stained and worn out items to benefit the Amherst Survival Center and the Fisher Home Hospice Shop.
- The Spring Street Farmer’s Market will kick off their 2012 season between the North and South Common.
- The festival is sponsored by the Western Massachusetts Electric Company, the Berkshire Gas Energy Efficiency Program, the Town of Amherst, the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce and the Hitchcock Center for the Environment.
- For more information visit our website: www.amherstma.gov/sustainabilityfestival
January 9, 2012 at 9:30 am (CISA, Food, Hilltown Families, Suggested Activity, Sustainability)
Tags: Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture, Local Food, Winter Farmers' Market
Northampton Winter Fare
Saturday, January 14th, 2011
Bring your shopping bags and stock up on fresh salad greens, root vegetables, local grains and bread, eggs, meat, cheese, yogurt, maple syrup, honey, jam, pickles, and more, all grown by local farmers. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)
Claire Morenon, CISA Program Coordinator writes:
CISA’s Winter Fare, a vibrant, diverse farmers’ market and community event, is coming to Smith Vocational High School in Northampton on January 14th, 2012 from 10am-2pm. Winter Fare is a celebration of the amazing local food that is available year-round in the Pioneer Valley, bringing together vendors from winter farmers’ markets around the Valley to kick off the new year.
Twenty-two vendors, including many from the weekly winter farmers’ markets in Amherst and Northampton, the bimonthly winter market in Springfield, and the once-monthly market in Greenfield, will be present with their goods to inspire shoppers to make farmers’ markets a regular part of their winter routine.
CISA strongly believes that healthful, local food should be available to everyone in the community, so Northampton Winter Fare will accept SNAP (formerly known as Food Stamps), and CISA will be matching the first $10 of all SNAP purchases. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)
In addition to perusing the array of local foods, shoppers can attend one of the several educational workshops scheduled during the market. Topics include home food preservation, cheese and yogurt-making, and herbal medicine. All the workshop leaders are local people who practice these skills at home, and the workshops are free and do not require pre-registration.
At 11am, the Soup Café will open for business so shoppers can take a break and enjoy a hot cup of soup made from local ingredients by Local Hero restaurants. Bring your own mug to help us reduce waste.
The Barter Market, a fun, lively food-swapping event, begins at 1pm. Bring your own home-preserved foods and trade with your neighbors to diversify your pantry and get to know other people that can, dry, and freeze the local harvest.
More details about Winter Fare, including complete lists of vendors and workshops, are available at www.buylocalfood.org. Volunteers are still needed to make this event possible! Please contact CISA at 413-665-7100 or firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up or for more information. Read the rest of this entry »
January 3, 2012 at 1:00 pm (Sustainability)
Tags: Composting, food waste, Green Tip, Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, Sustainability, waste reduction strategy
Green Tip: January 2012
Did You Know?
Food waste, including uneaten food and food preparation scraps from residences, restaurants, and grocery stores, makes up a large portion (up to 40 percent) of the municipal solid waste stream. As a result, diverting organic wastes from final disposal is an important waste reduction strategy that can help extend the useful life of our region’s landfills.
If you work in the food industry, see if your company is interested in participating in a region-wide commercial composting program that offers free technical assistance, signage, and training to help set up composting programs at businesses and institutional facilities. For more information, contact the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission at 413-781-6045.
Meanwhile, at home, consider adding backyard composting to your spring cleaning list this year. Visit the Greenscapes Guide at greenscapes.org to learn how to start. If you are not able to compost at home, contact your municipality and ask if your town’s waste drop-off facility collects food waste.
Read the rest of this entry »
September 19, 2011 at 2:00 pm (Food, Suggested Activity, Sustainability, Take Action)
Tags: Agribusiness, Farmers, Farming, Local Food, Organic Farming
Farmageddon: The Unseen War on
American Family Farms
Screenings in Western MA
Kristin Canty, a small farm advocate and mother of 4 kids from Concord, MA, is the Director/Producer of Farmageddon; The Unseen War on American Family Farms. When one of her children was sick with asthma and multiple allergies as a preschooler, and medications offered no relief, she turned to raw milk and helped her young child recover. Since that time she has been buying most of her groceries from local, organic farms.
When Kristin discovered that co-ops and small farms were getting raided by the government, she decided she would make a film about what was happening in hopes that local citizens would become small farm advocates too.
Screenings of the documentary film, Farmageddon, are scheduled for Western MA:
- Thursday, September 22nd @ 7pm
Beacon Theater, Pittsfield, MA
Presented by Berkshire Organics
- Monday, October 17th @ 7pm
Images Cinema, Williamstown, MA
Presented by Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA)/ Mass Raw Milk Network
- Sunday, November 13th @ 7pm
Academy of Music, Northampton, MA
Presented by Grow Food Northampton
Western MA Farming Resources (add more in the comment field below):
September 4, 2011 at 9:00 am (Food, Sustainability)
Tags: Economical, Lunch, Reduce Reuse Recycle, Sack Lunch, Savings, School Lunch, Waste-Free Lunch
Back-to-School with a Waste-Free Lunch
According to wastefreelunches.org, families can save nearly $250 per year PER PERSON just by packing a waste-free lunch! That’s $1,000 a year for a family of four!
You know that time between Memorial Day and Labor Day they call Summer? It came and went so fast! And now here we are again, with children preparing to go back-to-school, school buses slowing down morning commutes, and a buzz of conversation about after-school classes, where to find non-toxic school supplies, and idea swapping on the age old dilemma … what to pack for your kids lunch. Just this past week I put a PB&J sandwich into my daughter’s PVC free sandwich bag for her first packed school lunch of the year… and she turned her nose up at it! What’s a mom to do?
Solutions to what to pack for lunch are many, but what about a waste-free lunch? You know, a lunch that’s not filled with lunch-size-that or mini-this that build up your grocery bill (and landfill!). According to WasteFreeLunches.org, families can save nearly $250 per year per person just by packing a waste-free lunch. With that thought in mind, I looked online to see what PVC-free products I could find that would help me pack a waste-free lunch. Read the rest of this entry »
September 2, 2011 at 12:00 pm (Food, Sustainability)
Tags: Community Supported Agriculture, Green Tip, Sustainability
Green Tip: September 2011
Click on the photo to read "CSA Farms Are Like Family," by Hilltown Families Contributing Writer, Dana Pilson.(Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)
Did You Know?
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a new and growing model of farming that allows people to directly support local farmers and receive a diverse variety of local food crops from their farmer every week during the growing season. Most CSA farms provide vegetables, fruits, and herbs to their members, and some CSA farms produce meat and dairy products.
’Tis the season to…purchase your share from a Community Supported Agriculture farm for next summer! CSA farms then know how many members they are growing for and spend the winter planning next season’s crops. In addition, many CSAs offer winter shares for sale in the fall so that you can eat local throughout the winter, too. For a list of CSA farms in our region, visit farmfresh.org.
Read the rest of this entry »
August 31, 2011 at 8:30 am (Food, Sustainability)
Tags: Berkshires, Massachusetts, Preserving Food, western massachusetts
Preserving the Bounty: Canning, Pickling and Keeping the Harvest
Berkshire Grown’s Preserve Exchange will take place at the Great Barrington Farmers’ Market in Great Barrington on Saturday, October 15th from 11am-1pm. Join other families in a community exchange of home-preserved goods.(Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)
With six canning and preserving workshops in August completed and another six to come in September, Berkshire Grown is demonstrating its commitment to the resurgence of the lost art of preserving food. Preserving the Bounty: Canning, Pickling and Keeping the Harvest is a series of fun and educational community workshops coordinated in partnership with more than a dozen Berkshire restaurants, food purveyors and partners.
The workshops teach participants procedures to safely preserve food with hands-on experience under the leadership of local experts. Preserving the Bounty presents demonstrations and information on preserving fruits, vegetables and herbs using techniques including freezing, canning, pickling and drying, as well as making salsas, sauces and ketchup. In addition to classes on canning and preserving, Berkshire Grown will host a food swap in October.
Berkshire Grown’s Preserve Exchange, a celebration of Preserving the Bounty will take place on Saturday, October 15th from 11 am – 1 pm at the Great Barrington Farmers’ Market. Community members are encouraged to stop by and exchange their home-preserved goods with other home canners. This free exchange presents an opportunity to taste and take home other canner’s recipes and share personal favorites.
Saturday, September 10th (4 – 5 pm) – Berkshire Co-op Market in Great Barrington will host Let’s Can with Community Cooperative Farm. The workshop will feature zucchini bread-and-butter pickles, sauerkraut and blueberry jam and is free to the community. RSVP at email@example.com or 413-528-9697.
Saturday, September 10th (2 pm) – Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield will present a Return and Learn Event: Canning 101. Led by Danielle Steinmann, associate director of interpretation at HSV, the ingredients will be sourced from the CSA at Hancock Shaker Village. The event is free for HSV members or with HSV admission. RSVP at DSteinmann@hancockshakervillage.org or 413-443-0188 x274.
Read the rest of this entry »
April 21, 2011 at 10:00 am (Sustainability, Video)
Tags: Educational Video, Pioneer Valley, Plastic Bags, Recycling, Virtual Tour, western massachusetts
How are Plastic Bag Recycled?
Plastic bags are a huge pollution problem!
The best solution: Bag Share!
Another solution: Recycling!
Kids, gather around and learn how plastic bags can be recycled. Take a virtual tour inside the largest plastic bag recycling facility located in Indiana.:
Giant Earth Day Ball: 2011
Head over to Pulaski Park in downtown Northampton (next to Academy of Music) on Saturday, April 23rd, 2011 to see the Giant Earth Day Ball made out of single-use plastic shopping bags by students from the Northampton Public Schools. This educational tool will be available to schools and environmental groups to use in their promotion of waste reduction and environmental respect… after seeing the ball, can you guess how many plastic bags it too to make it?
April 20, 2011 at 5:30 pm (Cummington, Hilltown Families, Sustainability)
Tags: Bag Sew, Bag Share, Berkshires, Community Building, Hilltowns, Pioneer Valley, Sewing, western massachusetts
Sewing Marathon Creates 485 New Bags for the Bagshare Project!
Leni Fried of Cummington, MA writes:
"It is great that we are keeping unwanted textiles out of landfills and recycling that fabric into useful bags that reduce the use of disposable plastic and paper bags," writes Amanda.
Hello Bag Sharers,
The Bag Share Sewing Marathons were a roaring success! I sewed for 24 hours straight. By 3 in the morning I felt like I was inside a giant sewing machine and there was nothing outside of it. By 7:30 a.m. I emerged from the church to see a brilliant rainbow over the fields and the rushing sound of the Westfield River. It was beautiful. Then off to a delicious breakfast compliments of The Old Creamery.
I sewed 118 bags and Amanda sewed for 19½ hours and sewed at least 30 of her special art bags.
Here’s some of what Amanda wrote about The Bagshare Project:
“It is great that we are keeping unwanted textiles out of landfills and recycling that fabric into useful bags that reduce the use of disposable plastic and paper bags. But I can’t help being even more inspired by the way Bag-Sews build community. It was so wonderful meeting smart, creative, sustainability-oriented individuals from our sister hilltowns to the south. I hope we can do more of this pan-hilltown organizing and cross-pollinating. It’s important to work on sustainability issues within our particular communities, but I think we also need to begin thinking about how to create the regional unity to make all of Western Mass (and beyond!) sustainable.
“The Bag-Sew events are one feature of Bag Shares that distinguish them from the reusable bags that “big box” stores now commonly sell. Whereas the latter bags are mass-produced in far off factories by anonymous workers, Bag Share bags are produced by local residents who are learning new skills, expressing their creativity, and making new friends. “
- Kathi from Simmons Furniture in Pittsfield headed up a satellite marathon for Berkshire Organics. They sewed 50 bags.
- Diana Fabig was sewing in solidarity at home and sewed 10 bags.
- The total for Cummington with about 25 people attending throughout the 24 hour period was 425 bags.
- The full total was 485 bags plus lots of new friends and community connections.
- And potential landfill fabric was collected using people’s commutes from Pittsfield to Springfield.
So to recap: I recommend marathoning! Staying up sewing with friends for 24 hours was fun and gave me a renewed appreciation for our world. Leaving to sew in the light of early morning, continuing into the darkness of night and then becoming aware of the light again gradually blending with the darkness into the next morning punctuated by the sounds of sewing!
Photo credit: (ccl) Andy Melton
April 20, 2011 at 6:30 am (Ecology, Sustainability)
Tags: Berkshires, Earth Day, Eco-Tips, Environment, Hilltowns, Local Food, Pioneer Valley, Sustainability, western massachusetts
Earth Day Eco-Tips from Western MA Families
"Eat food from the earth not from a box to reduce the amount of packaging thrown into landfills." - Cheli Mennella of Colrain, MA (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)
“Egg cartons make great seed starters! Windows sills are wonderful places to grow the tiny seeds! Kids love to watch life happen inside and outside their world!” – Elizabeth Jensen (Leeds, MA)
“Toilet paper rolls become trumpets in our house.” – Jessica Morris (Northampton, MA)
“My daughter Kacia, age 8, is fanatical about litter. We recently went to the Energy Park clean up and Kacia was very disappointed to be weeding instead of picking up trash! She grabs it everywhere we go; on the sidewalk, in the parking lot, on the grass. She tells people not to drop it on the ground and really notices when others do so. Give a hoot, don’t pollute!” – Pam and Kacia Kinsmith (Greenfield, MA)
“Stop buying bottled water! There are so many beautiful water bottles you can buy and re use. Our tap water is great, give it a try! Also, unplug your phone charger when you are not using it (all chargers). And don’t let the water run when you are brushing your teeth or doing dishes.” – Anna
“We unplug electronics when we are not using them. We also reuse plastic bags!” – Kristy Dyer (Hatfield, MA)
“Eat food from the earth not from a box to reduce the amount of packaging thrown into landfills.” – Cheli Mennella (Colrain, MA)
“Reuse bread bags and produce bags to wrap food items, everything from cheese to sandwiches to leftovers. no need to buy ziplocs, ever.” – Sandra Dias (Holyoke, MA)
“We line dry our clothes almost all year long. They smell great and the sun works as a natural sanitizer. This is especially useful for cloth diapers and towels.” – Robyn
“Recycling is a great thing, my son Joseph and I spread the word and help people learn what items go in what recycle bin. We have fun doing it .” – Lynda Medina
“We put our wireless router and all those miscellaneous computer appliances all on 2 easy to reach power strips. When we leave the house or go to bed, we turn the power off. There was a noticeable drop in our electric bills when we started this and we’re not wasting energy to power things we’re not using.” – Beth Caissi (Greenfield, MA)
“Here are my daughter Zoe’s environmental tips: No paper cups (she holds me to this one); No plastic spoons forks or knives; No plastic bags; Compost; Recycle; Repurpose; and Plant trees.” – Zoe and Tony(a) in Ashfield MA
April 18, 2011 at 7:00 am (Ecology, Hilltown Families, Northampton, Suggested Activity, Sustainability)
Tags: Amherst, Bring Your Own Bag, Earth Day, Northampton, Plastic Bags, western massachusetts
Northampton Public Schools Join Together to Make a Giant Earth Day Ball!
Charlotte Causton on Northampton, MA writes:
"The ball will be available to schools and environmental groups wishing to display it as an educational tool in promoting respect for the environment and the reduction of waste," writes Charlotte Causton.
All Northampton Public Schools will work together in April to make the largest ball ever made entirely of single-use plastic shopping bags. The event will culminate on April 23rd at Northampton’s Earth Day celebration in Pulaski Park when the ball will be rolled down the streets of Northampton and into the park. In a tribute to the inspiring kids’ book, Theo and the Giant Plastic Ball, published by the United Nations Environmental Program, Green Action in Northampton Schools, GREEN Northampton and the Center for EcoTechnology are coordinating this project to raise awareness of the environmental impact of using plastic bags in stores and get Northampton to become a bring your own bag shopping district.
AIMED TO EDUCATE
This project is an opportunity for Northampton schools to work together and make an impact on our local environment. All four elementary schools in the district, JFK Middle School, and the Environmental Club at Northampton High School have signed up for the program and teachers and students are busy collecting bags. Classrooms are collecting used plastic bags from their homes and family/friends’ homes that are being tied together to form a rope. The number of bags tied together by the class are being counted and recorded. Plastic bag ropes from the different classrooms will be joined together and a total count taken on 15 April, after which the ropes will be picked up by volunteers and taken to a central location. During spring break students and volunteers will assemble the ball ready for the Earth Day celebration on Saturday April 23rd. After the Earth Day celebration, the ball will be available to schools and environmental groups wishing to display it as an educational tool in promoting respect for the environment and the reduction of waste. Teachers are also using this project as an educational opportunity for hands-on math and science/energy conservation investigations.
EARTH DAY EVENT: APRIL 23rd, 2011
WGBY, GREEN Northampton and the City of Northampton have teamed up as they did in April 2010 to hold an Earth Day Eco- Fair on April 23 in Pulaski Park in Northampton. The Giant Earth Day Ball will be the star among one of over 20 environmental and recycling based exhibits and activities for families and children available between 10a.m.-4:00pm. WGBY will hold an Earth Day film festival at the Academy of Music. WRSI will once again provide a stage and live entertainment from 12:00-4:00pm in Pulaski park and in Amherst at the Amherst Sustainability Festival which will also be held on the town Common from 10-4:00. The Earth day Planning committee hopes that Fair goers will visit both venues and encourage visitors to take a bus or use the bike trail to the different events.
Photo credit: (ccl) mtsofan
April 4, 2011 at 5:00 am (Amber Bobnar, Contributing Writer, Ecology, Family Music, music, Sustainability)
Tags: Earth, gardening, music, NOFA, Northeast Organic Farming Association, Sustainability
Maria & Friends: Planting Seeds
One of our favorite artists, Maria Sangiolo, has gotten a bunch of her friends together to create a new album all about farms and gardens.
The resulting project, Planting Seeds, is an amazing compilation of songs about the earth, gardening, and eating right.
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this CD is also going to benefit the good work of the Northeast Organic Farming Association.
This album is both beautiful and fun and not at all preachy. Maria and her friends (including Rani Arbo, Alastair Moock, and SteveSongs) teach kids all about nature and growing your own food. My favorite song on the album, Didn’t Know What I Was Missing, a duet between Alastair and Lori McKenna, really gets to the point. Until you’ve had a tomato you’ve grown yourself, you just don’t know how good a tomato can be. And I can attest to that since we planted our first vegetable garden last year!
We’ve got plans for a HUGE garden this year. We’re planting tomatoes, green beans, lettuce, radishes, spinach, zucchini… and what ever else we can fit! This could be a great project for your family, too. Listen to the songs on the album and begin planning your garden now. By the time you’re ready to get your hands dirty in May you’ll know all the songs by heart!
Here’s to a prolific garden Dancin’ in the Breeze!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Amber lives with her husband and son in Watertown, MA. Originally hailing from Hawaii, Amber and her family moved to Watertown to be closer to the Perkins School for the Blind where her son attends preschool. She has a Master’s degree in English from Tufts University and spends most of her “free time” writing about being a parent of a disabled child on WonderBaby.org or about the family’s musical adventures around Boston on BostonChildrensMusic.com. But really most of her time is spent caring for and playing with her little boy. firstname.lastname@example.org. (Originally posted at Boston Children’s Music.)
March 31, 2011 at 9:00 am (Cummington, HCDC, Hilltown Families, Hilltown Spring Festival, Sustainability)
Tags: Berkshires, Hilltowns, Pioneer Valley, Sustainability Festival, western massachusetts
Sustainable Living Vendors Welcomed at the
5th Annual Hilltown Spring Festival
Cummington Fairgrounds, May 14th
Seth Isman, Economic Development Director at the Hilltown CDC in Chesterfield, MA writes:
Greenfield Solar Store join the Hilltown Spring Festival last year, with displays of solar panels and fielding questions about solar energy. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)
2,000 people who are interested in sustainable living in all its forms will be attending the Hilltown Spring Festival on May 14 at the Cummington Fairgrounds. Do you have something to tell them? Do you have something to sell them?
Join providers of solar energy equipment, sellers of hybrid cars, providers of energy efficient lighting, local organic farmers, providers of energy efficient windows and window treatments, providers of composting toilets and of wood-burning furnaces.
Join local restaurants selling their tastiest dishes, local non-profits talking about their services, local artists and craftspeople showing their work, and local musicians entertaining on three stages.
Thousands of visitors visited the HSF last year, visiting sustainability vendors in the barns and open fields. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)
Help our Western MA community to buy local, eat local, save local, stay local! Be part of a great event and meet 2,000 new customers!
Complete information and registration forms are at www.hilltowncdc.org, or call or email Seth Isman at email@example.com or 413-296-4536 ext. 112.
Have questions about the Hilltown Spring Festival?
March 10, 2011 at 10:30 am (Suggested Activity, Sustainability, Video)
Tags: Berkshires, Food, Suggested Activity, Sustainability, Take Action, western massachusetts
Farm Film Fest: A Day of Film and Food
Sunday, March 13th in the Berkshires
In celebration of Spring and the upcoming growing season, the Williams College Sustainable Food & Agriculture Program, Storey Publishing and Images Cinema will present Farm Film Fest: A Day of Film and Food on Sunday afternoon, March 13. Hosted by Images Cinema at 50 Spring Street in Williamstown, two screenings and five films about food and farming will be presented beginning at 1 p.m. Mezze Catering will present a cheese tasting between screenings featuring local cheeses from Massachusetts, Vermont and New York State.
“The Berkshire region is truly a leader in the ‘honest food’ movement – most of the issues play out here, and in the Berkshires we’ve found solutions that have often had national significance,” said Deborah Burns, acquiring editor at Storey Publishing. “The Farm Film Fest is an opportunity for our local community to connect with global issues surrounding the food movement.”
This is the second year for Farm Film Fest, which originated from the surging interest in food and farm issues and the many films that are addressing various aspects of this urgent subject. Read the rest of this entry »
February 21, 2011 at 12:30 pm (Cummington, Hilltown Families, Suggested Activity, Sustainability)
Tags: Bagsew, Berkshires, Hilltowns, Pioneer Valley, Sewing, Sewing Marathon, Sustainability, western massachusetts
Sewing Marathon: Sew Bags for the Ten Bagshare Locations in the Valley, Hilltowns and Berkshire County
Leni Fried of Cummington, MA writes:
24-Hour Bagshare Sewing Marathon begins Saturday, April 16th at 7:30am. Sign up to participate or organize a marathon in your area!
The Hilltown 24-hour sewing marathon will be at The Village Church and Hilltown Sewing Center on Main Street in Cummington, MA on April 16th—17th from 7:30am to 7:30am the following day. There will be six 4-hour shifts with at least one experienced bag sewer to head up each shift. Please let me know if you can head up a shift.
The idea is to sew as many strong and quality bags as possible in the time allotted. • No rules. • Sew tags on existing bags. • Make kits ahead of time. • Just use scrap fabric is the main thing. • Sign up for a shift. • You don’t have to stay for the whole shift. • No sewing experience is necessary.
Here are the shifts:
- 3:30am—7:30am (Insomniac shift! This is a very popular shift. Barbara and I are already signed up for it. Bring your jammies! The Creamery will be supplying Rattlesnake Brew coffee to keep the sewers going.)
The Creamery will open early for breakfast at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, April 17th to feed the bag sewers!
ORGANIZE YOUR OWN MARATHON
We invite you to organize your own marathon in any increment so people travel shorter distances to participate. The marathon can be organized as a 4-, 8-, 12-, 16-, or 24-hour marathon. We encourage ride sharing, car filling, carpooling, bike driven and human power to get to the marathon!
For now e-mail me to sign up and let me know if you are organizing a marathon in your area. Remember yours can be any amount of time you want. I hope that they all can be on the Saturday/Sunday before Earth Day so the bags can re-supply the 10 locations as an Earth Day action.
Let me know your thoughts. This is a FUN thing!
Photo credit: (ccl) Leia Barker
January 24, 2011 at 2:00 pm (5 Year Celebration, Contest, Local Food, Sustainability)
Tags: Giveaway, Hilltowns, Local Businesses, Local Food, Photography Exhibit, Western Massachuestts
Hilltown Families turned five at the turn of the year … and we are celebrating all year long! This month we are offering 5 Gift Baskets from 5 Local Food Businesses, celebrating local food and businesses with a sample of products from Dean’s Beans, Tea Guys, Bart’s Ice Cream, Dufresne’s Sugar House, and Appalachian Naturals.
Deadline to enter to win is Friday, February 4th. Five winners will be randomly selected and announced during the opening reception for Hilltown Families: A Traveling Photography Exhibit Featuring Life and Landscape in Western MA at Cup & Top Café in Florence on February 5th and must be present to win. All of the businesses included in the giveaway have products that are used or sold at the cafe. Details below.
One thing you can say about families in Western Mass is we are committed to creating healthy communities for our children to grow and thrive in. One avenue that brings many of us together is food… more specifically, locally grown and produced food. Families and communities have come together to advocate for healthy locally grown foods to be served in our schools with programs like Fresh Wednesdays, and to celebrate these foods in our school cafeteria’s during the Massachusetts Harvest for Students Week.
Together we support family farms by choosing to purchase our food as local as possible, and shop all year round at both summer and winter farmers’ markets. We like to discuss ways to prepare our garden surplus for the dinner table, where to pick local fruits, and organize ways we can share our bounty with neighbors. In the fall, community harvest dinners bring together families to celebrate with events like the annual Free Harvest Supper of Local Food, and Western Mass restaurants often prepare their menus with locally grown produce. — Our community is strong with the voice of many activists too and has rallied behind opportunities like creating a community farm, forming a perennial food growing group, and supporting free workshops on food security. — We have a lot to be proud of living here in Western Mass, and our local food culture is one of the many reasons why!
Here on Hilltown Families we give a visual glimpse into our local food culture with photographic images taken at the multitude of family farms, community events and farmers’ markets happening in our region. Hilltown Families: A Traveling Photography Exhibit Featuring Life and Landscape in Western MA debuts this February in Florence with an opening reception on Saturday, February 5th from 5-7pm at Cup and Top Café in Florence, MA (1 North Main St. 585-0445). As the show travels to different local businesses and institutes, the images will change, showcasing images relative to the season and the host town. The debut show at Cup and Top Café will include images from the Ashfield Farmers’ Market, Northampton Tuesday Market, Summit Farm (Plainfield), Florence Farmers’ Market, Clarksdale Farm (Deerfield), Free Harvest Supper (Greenfield), Red Gate Farm (Buckland), among others.
Both Hilltown Families and Cup and Top Café are celebrating their 5th birthdays and the café has been a proud sponsor of Hilltown Families for the past couple of years. Helen Kahn, owner of the café writes, “Over the last five years the café has literally grown up alongside Hilltown Families, and during that time we have developed a sort of symbiotic relationship. The café provides a physical space that compliments what Hilltown Families has created online for families.”
“The café is a great family friendly destination,” shares Sienna Wildfield, Founder of Hilltown Families. “Helen’s commitment to supporting local farms, local artists and local businesses can be seen on her menu and on her walls. The café is the perfect spot to debut Hilltown Families: A Traveling Photography Exhibit Featuring Life and Landscape in Western MA.”
On the evening of the opening reception, Hilltown Families will announce the winners of each of the 5 gift baskets from 5 local food businesses. These business are featured below and have been selected for the giveaway because all of them have products that are used or sold at the Cup and Top Café. Find out how to enter to win below (it’s super easy), and make plans to come to the opening reception on Saturday, February 5th from 5-7pm at Cup & Top Café (1 North Main St. 585-0445). Must be present to win! Come show your support of Hilltown Families and maybe even walk home with a fabulous gift basket to add spark to your kitchen!
Dean’s Beans (Orange, MA)
GIVEAWAY: Dean’s Beans Gift Box includes a 12oz. bag of Moka Sumatra, a 12oz. bag of Peruvian French Roast Decaf, a Putumayo CD with music from the coffeelands, Javatrekker: Dispatches from the World of Fair Trade Coffee written by Dean Cycon, Dean’s Bean Travel Mug, a Large Dean’s Beans T-Shirt, a 12 oz. bag of Organic Hot Cocoa Mix, a 12 oz. bag of Organic Baking Cocoa, a 24 oz. bag of Organic Sugar, and a pound of Dark Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans. (Value: $85)
Social activism, ecological responsibility, and great coffee meet at Dean’s Beans, a family-owned certified organic, fair trade coffee roaster. Offering fair priced, great tasting products that support peaceful social change, Dean’s Beans is characterized by an unyielding commitment to ethical business practices, people-centered development, and sound ecological practices. The quality of their products is a reflection of the quality of life of our farm partners. The health and strength of their communities are integral to our success. We design and fund grassroots development projects in the villages where we buy our beans. To read about these projects please visit our website at www.deansbeans.com.
Appalachian Naturals (Goshen, MA)
GIVEAWAY: Sundried Tomato Horserdish Dip (12 oz): Rustic blend of freshly grated horseradish roots, farm fresh buttermilk, & a touch of sundried tomatoes. Chipotle Bleu Cheese Dip (12 oz): Spicy southwest sauce with fresh buttermilk, bleu cheese & smoky chipotle peppers. Chipotle Honey Mustard (10 oz): Sweet & spicy mustard with honey from Warm Colors Apiary. Cape Cod Caviar (10 oz): Organic cranberry sauce sweetened with agave nectar instead of sugar, loaded with Cape Cod cranberries. (Value: $45)
Since 2004 Appalachian Naturals has been committed to bridging the gap between local agriculture and the grocery aisle, with a slogan “Local Agriculture Is Everyone’s Business.” Located 20 miles east of the Berkshire region of the Appalachian Mountains in the Hilltowns of Western Mass, their dressings, dips, organic salsas, and barbecue sauces are made locally using ingredients from local farms & artisans; such as: Mapleline Farm, Warm Colors Apiary, Atlas Farm, South River Miso, Red Fire Farm, and Holiday Brook Farm. Appalachian Naturals can be purchased at local markets and co-ops, or at seasonal farmers’ markets and farm stands. Favorites include Sundried Tomato Horseradish, Organic Salsa Veracruz, Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette, and Applewood Smoked Barbecue Sauce. www.AppalachianNaturals.com
Dufresne’s Sugar House (Williamsburg, MA)
GIVEAWAY: Dufresne’s Sugar House is offering a gift basket containing a pint each of Light Amber Maple Syrup and Dark Amber Maple Syrup and five packets of maple candy made from the finest early-season light amber maple syrup. (Value: $38)
Located in the beautiful hilltowns of Western Mass, Dufresne’s Sugar House has been making award-winning maple syrup for four generations. That’s over 100 years of sugaring experience! The Dufresne family works for the maple sugaring season all year round, practicing sustainable forest management, and harvesting their syrup with a smoke-free, wood-burning evaporator. They offer three grades of 100% pure and natural maple syrup, along with maple candy, maple cream, maple sugar block and Indian sugar. Their maple candy make great table/party favors and all maple products are available for both home and commercial use, shipping out daily to customers from MA to California. Find out more about Dufresne’s Sugar House at www.berkshiremaple.com.
Bart’s Ice Cream (Greenfield, MA)
GIVEAWAY: Barbara and Gary are offering coupons for one pint of Bart’s Super Premium Ice Cream (redeemable in grocers in Hampshire and Franklin Counties and in the Berkshires in select stores); and one 56 oz. carton of Snow’s Premium Ice Cream (redeemable in grocers in Hampshire and Franklin Counties). They’re also offering a 9 oz jar of Bart’s Homemade Hot Fudge; and a Bart’s long sleeved t-shirt with“Think Local, Buy Bart’s” on the back (Value: $35)
Bart’s Super Premium Ice Cream and Snow’s Premium Ice Cream has been using locally sourced, high quality ingredients since the 1970’s. The Snow’s brand is a family priced premium product that sells in 1/2 gallons, while Bart’s is a super-premium, that appeals to adults who want something special and are willing to pay a bit more for it. Over the past 3 decades, owners Barbara and Gary discovered they are also passionate about giving back to their community. 1% of their gross sales is donated yearly to charities and fund raisers. They also contribute their time to community boards (CISA and River Valley Market) and are committed to supporting organizations that work toward eliminating environmental and social problems. www.bartshomemade.com
Tea Guys (Hatfield, MA)
GIVEAWAY: This Tea Guys gift box includes a selection of three tins of our unique blends: Tropical Green tea, Pomegranate Pear fruit tisane, and Toffee Chocolate Hazelnut black tea, alongside a ceramic teapot with a stainless steel strainer for brewing the perfect cup of tea. (Value: $65)
Tea Guys is a local family-owned business specializing in artisan whole leaf loose tea blends. Their culinary-inspired tea creations are blended in small batches daily and made with the finest loose tea from around the world, freshly hand-milled spices, vanilla bean, dried fruits, nuts and artisan ingredients to create unique and colorful blends that stimulate the eyes, nose, and palate – and truly taste like no other tea. www.teaguys.com
HOW TO WIN:
Your chance to win one of these glorious gift baskets is as easy as 1-2-3 (4-5)! To win simply:
- SHARE THIS PAGE ON FACEBOOK BY SELECTING “LIKE” BELOW
- TELL US HOW HILLTOWN FAMILIES HAS HELPED YOU DISCOVER WESTERN MA LOCAL FOOD CULTURE in the comment box below, and be sure to tell us your
- FULL NAME and where you
- LIVE (TOWN/STATE) Must include your town and state to be eligible. We’ll randomly draw a winner from those who participate and the winner will be announced during the open reception as explained below.
- ACCURATE EMAIL in the email field of the comment box (we never share your email address).
IT’S THAT SIMPLE! — Deadline to enter to win is Friday, February 4th, 2011 by 7pm (EST). Five different winners will win one of the above mentioned baskets during the opening reception of Hilltown Families: A Traveling Photography Exhibit Featuring Life and Landscape in Western MA on Saturday, February 5th from 5-7pm at Cup and Top Café in Florence, MA (1 North Main St. 585-0445). Winners will be announced at 6:30pm and must be present to win. If you have any questions, please contact us before entering to win at firstname.lastname@example.org.
December 7, 2010 at 2:00 pm (Springfield, Sustainability)
Tags: Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture, Local Food, local food movement, Winter Farmers' Market
Springfield Winter Fare: Eat Locally Year-Round
Locally grown wheat. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)
This winter, CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture), is bringing a vibrant, diverse one-day farmers’ market to Springfield. On December 18th from 10am-2pm, the first annual Springfield Winter Fare will be held at Springfield Technical Community College. The market will feature an amazing array of local foods, including root vegetables, squash, salad and cooking greens, fruit, herbs, bread and grains, meat, cheese, maple products, honey, pickles, and jam. Shoppers can mingle over hot soup from local restaurants (bring your own mug!), attend one of the several educational workshops scheduled during the market, and barter home-preserved local food with their neighbors (bring your excess, and go home with your neighbors’ goodies!).
Winter Fare is an opportunity to celebrate the diversity of local food that is available year-round. Nancy Hanson of Snow Moon Farm in Northfield says, “Winter growing and seasonal eating are a natural progression of the local food movement, and local farmers have expanded their offerings to meet the demand.” In addition to filling the consumer desire for local food, winter markets provide an income stream for farmers outside of the traditional growing season. “Farmers’ markets keep our business alive, since our farmstand is somewhat remote,” says Roxanne Austin of Austin Brothers Valley Farm in Belchertown, “and winter markets fill a vital gap by giving us a way to sell directly to consumers all year round.”
CISA strongly believes that healthy, local food should be available to everyone in the community, so both the Winter Fare will accept SNAP (formerly known as Food Stamps), and CISA will be matching the first $5 of all SNAP purchases.
In addition to the Springfield event, CISA is coordinating the second annual Northampton Winter Fare, January 15th from 10am-2pm at Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School. For more information on Winter Fare and other winter farmers’ markets, including an independent biweekly winter market that begins on December 11th in Forest Park in Springfield, visit www.buylocalfood.org or call (413) 665-7100.
SATURDAY WINTER FARMERS’ MARKETS ALL WINTER LONG
- In Northampton from 9am-2pm — Winter Farmers’ Market in the basement of Thornes through April 30th. Food, live music and art.
- In Amherst from 10am-2pm — Winter Farmers’ Market at Amherst Middle School (170 Chestnut St.).
- In North Amherst from 10am-2pm — North Amherst Farmers’ Market happens a the Big Bule Barn at SwartzFamiy Farm (11 Meadow St.). www.northamherstmarket.com
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 18th, 2010
- 9am-1pm – FARMERS’ MARKET: Berkshire Grown will host a holiday farmers’ market at the old railroad station on Castle Street in Great Barrington. 528-0041 www.berkshiregrown.org Great Barrington, MA (MARKET)
- 10am-2pm - FARMERS’ MARKET: Berkshire Grown will host a holiday farmers’ market at the Williams College Field House on Latham Street. 528-0041 www.berkshiregrown.org Williamstown, MA (MARKET)
November 24, 2010 at 5:00 am (Contributing Writer, Kelly Bevan McIlquham, Sustainability, Web Review)
Tags: Hand-Me-Downs, Kids Clothes, Recycling, Swaping, ThredUp, upcycle
Solutions for the Fashionista’s in Our Lives
Thirteen-month-old Kylee knows that stripes are making a comeback this season. (Photo Credit: Kelly Bevan McIlquham)
My niece is a mini-fashionista. She has an outfit (or two) to wear for every day of the month (at least) before my sister even has to think about running a load of wash.
Wait a minute. Strike that. Unless my little fashion-forward niece (did I mention she’s only 13 months old) wants those clothes to curdle in her hamper, there is a little washing that needs to happen — but you do get my point. Don’t you?
Kids today have clothes, clothes and more clothes; many of them more stylish than their sweat pant-wearing, jeans-buying, comfort-seeking moms and dads. The problem? Many of those clothes occupying their overfilled closets and broken bureau drawers have never seen the light of day.
Come on all you moms out there. Admit it. Most of us have donated an item or two to the Goodwill, a friend or another worthy person or charity in need of clothes for their children with the original price tags still on them. I know I bought Kylee — that’s my niece — a Patriot’s onesie that for some reason or another she never wore. (Yes, my dear sister I just outed you online!)
Not to mention the money we parents are spending on outfitting our little divas or models-in-training. And just wait until they reach their “preteen” years.
My 11-year-old twins — one boy, one girl — are all about looking stylish. My son tried on shirt after shirt after shirt before beginning middle school this fall, each time asking his twin sister, “Does this look cool?”
My daughter McKenna had me toting her all around the county to find a sporting goods store that carried basketball sneakers that were stylish enough for her newfound “divalicious” tastes. Seriously? They’re basketball sneakers for God’s sake: last year’s sneakers still looked brand-new and if they wouldn’t cause blisters or her toes to permanently curl or resemble something right out of a Chinese binding ritual I would have made her continue to wear them.
I know I’m not alone with these concerns. Our kids are growing up and out of their clothes faster than many of us parents can get our busy selves to the stores or click the mouse on to our favorite online department store. But thanks to the new online company thredUP we now have an answer to our clothing prayers.
The company established in the spring of 2009 is the brainchild of James Reinhart, Oliver Lubin and Chris Homer based in Cambridge, Mass., and advised by current Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.
The company is by far one of the greenest, most environmentally-friendly solutions I’ve seen for parents looking to keep their kids clothed, in the styles (and sizes) they want all at bargain prices, too. It’s virtually free!
Here’s how it works. ThredUP eliminates (or at least significantly decreases) one’s need to head to the department stores every other month for new clothing for the ever-growing children in our lives. The company does this by offering a way to “shop” for the sizes and type of clothing you want or need for your children. Essentially the company is a one-stop second-hand store that takes the hassle out of second-hand shopping by doing the work for you. Basically, parents can exchange full boxes of kids’ clothing, in the sizes they want on the company’s website (www.thredup.com) without ever leaving the house.
Kylee making a fashion statement in her JLo-like leisure suit and snuggling with her Aunt Kelly. (Photo credit: Kelly Bevan McIlquham)
How do they do it? Parents find other parents on the site who have the sizes they want or who want the sizes they have. Parents looking for clothing — browsing by size, season and gender — pick a box of clothes for their children from the thredUP site. (Approximately 15 articles of children’s clothing fits in each box.) Parents pay only a $5 shipping charge for the box. Parents looking to donate gently-used clothes list their clothes and sizes online and when your box is picked you send it free of charge to its new owner via thredUP’s home pick-up and delivery option. Parents also can find a favorite sender and receive notifications when they list new boxes.
This idea is absolutely brilliant. Not only are parents finding a low-cost way to keep their children in the styles they want, but there are also a number of added environmental and overall parental benefits to the system.
According to thredUP’s press packet their system helps “Keep it Green”: “Over 20 billion pounds of clothing and textiles are tossed into landfills each year,” their press release said, “ThredUP helps combat the waste, encouraging families to “upcycle” kids’ clothing.”
ThredUP also claims to eliminate the number of hours many parents spend “selling kids’ clothing one painfully tedious item at a time” via eBay or consignment stores. In just 10 minutes, without uploading pictures or leaving their couches, parents can get rid of the clothing cluttering up their hallways, closets, attics and more.
ThredUP even allows you to send care packages to military families stationed domestically or overseas.
Currently I have two garbage bags full of items that no longer fit my 9-year-old son, who also no longer fits into his older brother’s hand-me-downs. They wear the same sized shirts and in another month or two their pant sizes will be the same size, too. That can get pretty pricey, not to mention the 11-year-old fashion diva living in the room next door. With her eyes on brand-name items I need to take on more freelance work just to pay for her wardrobe or better yet, she needs to get a job!
Or we can just find another young fashionista to swap with. It won’t be long until you see my name on thredUP’s “Super Swapper” or “Top Rockstar” list.
As for my favorite little 13-month-old fashion icon … You can bet Miss Kylee that I’ll be turning your Mommy onto this site very soon.
To learn more about thredUP and how the company works visit their site at www.thredup.com.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kelly Bevan McIlquham
Kelly is a psychotherapist-turned-writer who resides in Hinsdale, MA with her husband, three children, two black labs, a cat, a turtle, and a few goldfish. She is the Features Editor for The Advocate in the Berkshires where she especially enjoys writing family- and education-related articles and her monthly “Parent to Parent” column. Kelly also dabbles in writing for children and has had her work published by Wee Ones online family magazine. Her new blog “Green Mama” chronicles her journey as a “green” parent in every sense of the word — from her parenting naiveté to living greener. When not writing, her favorite pastime is cheering on her children at various football, soccer, basketball and baseball games. email@example.com
September 28, 2010 at 6:01 am (Florence, Food, Northampton, Suggested Activity, Sustainability, Video)
Tags: Community Farm, Community Supported Agriculture, Farming, Food Security, Pioneer Valley, western massachusetts
Vision for a Community Farm in the Pioneer Valley
Grow Food Northampton envisions a community farm to include CSA’s, microdairy, farming microenterprises, farm store, community garden plots, apprentice trainings, workshops, community celebrations, school programs and camps right in Northampton, MA. You can help to make this happen!
Grow Food Northampton plans to purchase 117 acres of prime farmland in Florence (walking distance from town center, near Meadow and Spring Sts.). Read more here.
They will be having their LAUNCH EVENT on SATURDAY, OCTOBER 2nd at the Elk’s Lodge in Florence, MA from 4-8pm. There will be a historic walking tour at 4pm at the Historic Ross Homestead at 123 Meadow St. in Florence. At the same time there will be kids activities, family music, and time with the farmers at the Elk’s Lodge. At 5pm dinner will be served and there will be speakers and more live music and dancing to follow.
Learn more, get inspired, and have a great time building community together! This is a free event with encouragement to donate what you can to help Grow Food Northampton meet its fundraising goals.
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