One man gathers what another man spills. Some organic farms have started to pick up on money saving strategies such as collecting designated scraps from local restaurants, and adding them to their compost. In this mutually beneficial relationship, the business saves on their garbage bill, and the farm gets free compost. In the way that nature’s living organisms play off of each other in an ecosystem, this is the most fundamental form of sustainability.
Category Archives: Buy Local
Victory Gardens: Past and Present
Back in the 1940’s during World War II, Uncle Sam asked us to become more self-sufficient and produce our own fruits and veggies, as transportation to market was difficult during the war. Millions of people started Victory Gardens because of this need for self-sufficiency. Community members made a cooperative effort to help our nation in its time of need.
Today we have modern Victory Gardens. Rather than a government plea to ration our food supply, these modern Victory Gardens are a grassroots movement to change our food system. Commercial agriculture has taken over America’s food supply and has nearly wiped out the small family farm. A significant cost to the commercial agriculture system is transportation and a larger shift to eating more locally and seasonally significantly reduces the transport costs. Additionally, fresh produce from the garden is a great eating pleasure – everyone knows the sweetness of picking something and then having it on your dinner plate. If you want to read more about a modern victory garden then check out: http://www.modernvictorygarden.com/
With fresher produce in mind hopefully more Victory Gardens will be planted next year. Gardens come in many forms. Some people may enjoy the traditional row garden in the backyard but the sky is the limit when it comes to how creative you want to get with your Victory Garden. If you do not have the space in your yard for a garden, then container gardening may be for you. Flower gardeners may want to add some edible landscaping to next year’s beds. Some plants with edible elements and beautiful flowers to consider are Painted Lady Runner Beans, American Groundnut, Nasturtiums, and Pansies. Families might want to do themed garden beds, such as the pizza bed (tomatoes, peppers, basil, or any of your favorite vegetable toppings), or perhaps the spaghetti bed (spaghetti squash, onions, garlic, and rosemary). There is a garden for everyone to enjoy—so cook and can with this year’s harvest and start planning next year’s to include new varieties.
The cold weather has finally given away to warm, if not hot days, and we are all aching to get out of the office to spend time outdoors! Read on to find out how to make your summer more sustainable.
With gas prices up and the economy still down, plan a low impact, high quality summer vacation. Vacation locally and save time, save gas money, and reduce carbon emissions.
- Spend the week on the Great Allegheny Passage, riding from Pittsburgh to Cumberland. If you are adventurous, continue from Cumberland to D.C. on the C&O Canal Towpath. Visit www.atatrail.org for trip planning suggestions.
- Spend a weekend or a week hiking and backpacking on the Laurel Highlands Trail. This 70 mile trail runs from Ohiopyle State Park to near Johnstown. Visit the Laurel Ridge State Park website for more information: http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/parks/laurelridge.aspx.
- Explore Pennsylvania State Parks. Camp or stay in cabins during the night and hike, swim, fish, and relax in beautiful Pennsylvania during the day. http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/index.aspx
Whether you are spending a lot of time outside or you serve customers that are visiting our region to enjoy the natural wonders here, you can use these tips to promote sustainable lifestyles.
From a personal perspective:
- STAY HYDRATED THE SUSTAINABLE WAY Use refillable water bottles. Bottled water costs about 2000 times as much as tap water. Bottled water is not safer to drink than tap water. The EPA strictly regulates tap water quality under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The FDA regulates bottled water, yet cannot require certified lab testing or violation reporting. In addition companies are not forced to disclose where the water they bottle comes from. http://storyofstuff.org/bottledwater
- BUY LOCAL Farmers’ markets are starting up for the summer. Buy locally produced and grown foods this summer. Local, fresh produce tastes amazing and is energy and resource efficient. Most produce grown in the US is shipped an average of 1500 miles before being sold. Produce grown in other countries is shipped even further. Buying local will reduce the energy use attributed to shipping and will help build local economies. If you live in Fayette County, get a Buy Local card and receive discounts at local stores. You can also save $5 at Fayette County farmers’ markets if you are one of the first 20 people to arrive. http://www.localharvest.org/buylocal.jsp http://www.faypenn.org/economy.jsp?pageId=2161392210281306139485965
- WATER EARLY OR LATE Water your plants in the early morning or the late afternoon to reduce the amount of water that evaporates on these hot summer days.
From a business perspective:
- Offer customers to fill up reusable water bottles in your sink.
- Encourage customers to buy/use reusable bags rather than just giving them a plastic bag. Consider charging for bags like companies such as Aldi.
- Promote local farmers’ markets to customers.
- Invite customers to dispose of any packaging from purchases in your store so they are not tempted to litter. Recycle what can be recycled.
- If you sell food, buy locally produced and grown food. See above for advantages.
- WALK, BIKE, OR CARPOOL Enjoy the nice weather or the company of a co-worker, and use alternative transportation to get to work. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help reduce tropospheric ozone pollution (formed when hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides from car exhaust interacts with sunlight). http://instaar.colorado.edu/outreach/ozone-oceans/ozone.html
Summer Solstice is just upon us. This time of year is my favorite because it’s the fresh eating season. Nothing is more refreshing than ripe fruits and veggies from farm stands—and ice cream on hot summer days!
As of this week Trail Town Ice Creams are in our towns along the Great Allegheny Passage and there is a flavor for everyone along the trail. This launches the program’s second year on the ground and it is all about being local.
Kerber’s Dairy of Irwin, PA is making five of the six Pennsylvania town flavors while Queen City Creamery in Cumberland is making the two Maryland flavors. Kerber’s Dairy originally had a herd of 300 cattle but have since sold their cattle and now have their milk sources from all local farmers.
The yummy flavors along the GAP can be found in locally owned businesses and the profits made go right back into the local economy. While in West Newton you should venture over to The Trailside and have a scoop of Yough Ness Monster, vanilla ice cream with praline pecans, chocolate chucks and a caramel swirl. Connellsville’s Youghiogheny Mud is for the chocolate lover in all of us. Brownie bites and walnuts in a river of chocolate ice cream—and to top it off with a crunchy twist it is being sold at El Canelo Mexican Restaurant as fried ice cream. After another 17 miles what could be better than a pit stop in Ohiopyle—go to the Kickstand and grab a scoop of Cherry Rapid Delight, cherries and chocolate-covered pretzels in vanilla ice cream. Gobbling up your ice cream while taking in the beauty of the falls—what could be better? Once you get to the turkey foot in the rivers—you are in Confluence. A trip on the GAP would not be complete without a visit to this quaint, patriotic town. Sister’s Café is the place to try Gobble Berry, cherries and white chocolate cake crunch in blueberry ice cream. Rockwood is where this project’s roots begin when Judy Pletcher of Rockwood Mill Shoppes. The flavor is a mix of pretzels and chocolate-covered peanuts in maple ice cream. Somerset County is known for its maple so I should come to no surprise that both Rockwood and Meyersdale have a maple base. To give you a little variety, Meyersdale’s Donges Drive-In sells Maple City Marvel sandwiched between two maple gob cakes. This flavor is simply delicious as it is a rich maple ice cream with real Somerset County maple syrup swirled in it. Trail Town Inn and Frostburg Freeze will be carrying Bobcat Blast, Oreo pieces and raspberry swirl in black raspberry ice cream. Cumberland is where you leap from the Great Allegheny Passage to the C&O Canal Towpath. When you are there you need to stop at Queen City Creamery to try Lover’s Leap, Chocolate-covered peanut butter-filled pretzels in chocolate ice cream.
Eat your way along the Great Allegheny Passage!
Earth Day, April 22nd, brought with it an exciting announcement from the Fay-Penn Economic Development Council: the Buy Local Network for all businesses in Fayette County is now officially operating! Bob Junk and Jessica Steimer of Fay-Penn, and Val J. Laub of the Herald Standard, presented the material at an outdoor press conference in Connellsville’s Yough Park.
The program unites local, independently-owned businesses of varying types and sizes in an overarching network of discounts and incentives to encourage customers to choose local stores over generic, big-box chains. “This is a new approach to an old concept of one another in the community supporting local businesses,” Laub said.
Buying in the neighborhood recirculates community dollars three-fold, and often supports agriculture and manufacturing in the region as opposed to halfway around the world. That’s a heck of a carbon footprint reduction for each dollar spent.
Customers present a Buy Local card at participating businesses, in order to receive product discounts and the chance to enter monthly raffles to win goods from Buy Local Network businesses.
To join the network, businesses commit to these discounts (upwards of $25) while also donating monthly to a community reinvestment fund (upwards of $10); community groups can then apply for this funding through any business involved in the Buy Local Network.
Fay-Penn covers promotions, advertising, and card distribution – a business simply has to buy-in, put up the Buy Local window cling, and begin accepting card-bearing customers!
As with any network, its strength is in the number of businesses engaged. If you’re considering how to connect with your community in a multitude of ways, joining this program is an effective move.
Already 60 + businesses are engaged and thousands of cards distributed. Fay-Penn works closely with the Herald Standard to circulate Buy Local announcements and updates.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about joining the network. A possibility for the network to extend into other counties may exist in the future, so stay tuned if your business lies outside of Fayette County…
An assessment by URBANlab, an architectural program at The California College of the Arts, recently deconstructed the journey of 19 ingredients commonly found in the average taco. Ingredients were selected based on economical choices; that is, only the cheapest ingredients made the recipe list.
What did the “tacoshed” (that’s a play on words between watershed and taco, FYI) study reveal? The taco in your hand, if in fact you’re eating a taco, is most likely the result of 64,000 miles covered by some combination of delivery truck, plane, bus, boat, or train.
Compiling the assessment entailed hours of research, phone calling, internet digging, and (assumed) frustration over the complexity of tracking food sources. The short story is simple, however: many foods purchased from wholesale delivery companies like SYSCO participate in a global supply chain that devastates our fuel supply.
The challenge is to focus not only on buying raw produce locally, but also prepared foods. This may mean cutting foods from your menu that you cannot prepare from scratch, or replacing prepared foods with a home-made version. For example, replace canned coleslaw with slaw made with local cabbage and carrots.
Is time an issue? Again, consider tailoring your menu to account for labor costs and improved quality; oftentimes, menus with fewer choices mean fresher ingredients, more time to prep each item, and oftentimes a better-tasting and more satisfying dining experience. By allowing more opportunity to prep fewer foods, you can purchase more fresh produce without fear that it will go bad. This cuts down on canned, prepared food purchases in significant ways.
Having trouble reducing the size of your menu? To narrow down the most popular items, distribute a survey to your patrons; leave room for suggestions on how to improve the food as well.
Other methods to lessen the “foodprint” of your menu include serving less meat, serving local meats and dairy, and altering menu options based on seasonal availability. Phase out canned chicken-noodle soup and replace with a local root vegetable stew, for a unique home-made flavor that diners will appreciate.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Bless our hearts, there is at least one day a year when everyone wants to celebrate all that is green! St. Patrick was a saint in the 5th century who used a (green) shamrock to explain the trinity in his religious teachings. And due to the lush landscape of the Emerald Isles and Ireland’s beautiful natural scenery, green became synonymous with Ireland, eventually representing an immigrant Irish voting block (the Green Party) that U.S. political candidates attempted to win over in American elections starting in the 1850’s.
Why mention the history of this festive occasion? Before you kick back with a strong stout at your favorite pub, break Lent for the afternoon, or attend your local parade, it’s worth considering the symbolism and meaning behind the color green.
Any day of the year, what does it mean to be green? How can a business re-invigorate this color to stand for firm commitments and market choices, without falling prey to the “greenwashing” trend overtaking the commercial world?
In 2004, Office Depot used this holiday to introduce a number of new “green” products to its stores, improving its website with recycling tips for the home and office, and clearly labeling the recycled content of its stock.
And this year, the Sierra Club offers a suggestion (to bars as well as to individuals) that “green brews” are available – enjoying local microbrews reduces energy burned on shipping and oftentimes organic beers match their competition in flavor and price.
Have any nifty marketing tips to rake in the Leprechaun gold?? That is, will your business celebrate the holiday by providing discounts or deals for customers who support your green efforts in some way?
Or maybe you can use this holiday simply as an excuse to talk about the conservation efforts of your business, for all the town to see, like a rainbow in the sky…