Between May when the weather gets warm and when it starts to get cold in November, the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) brings thousands of potential customers through the towns along it’s length. During peak summer months and holiday weekends tourist destinations like Ohiopyle can be awash with visitors and their dollars. Finding ways to maintain and increase this seasonal traffic is a great way to increase profits, but the problem becomes what to do during those months of the off-season. For established businesses strong local patronage during the trail season is a bonus and the off-season brings slower but still good levels of business. The issue is really for those businesses that depend on the trail customers.
Category Archives: Restaurants
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.
Are you looking to cut costs and make your business more self-sustainable? For any business in the service industry, growing your own produce and herbs can make both a significant cut in your expenditures, and make available the freshest possible produce for your patrons.
Where should you turn to learn organic gardening techniques for your business? One adventurous and hands-on opportunity is to participate in WWOOF, which stands for “World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms.”
The Great Allegheny Passage Sustainable Business Network welcomes its two newest members, ArtWorks Connellsville and El Canelo Mexican Restaurant, both prominent Connellsville businesses.
ArtWorks Connellsville sells a wide variety of regional artwork including jewelry, handmade soap, watercolor paintings, photography, handmade bowls, and more. In addition, ArtWorks Connellsville holds a summer art camp for children ages 6-14. ArtWoks Connellsville will also be the site of a Re-Create/Re-Use store opening in October. The Re-Create/Re-Use store will collect items that would normally be discarded, such as fabric scraps, foam, and promotional items. The Re-Create/Re-Use store will hold classes where students will learn about various artists and will use materials at the store to create art.
El Canelo Mexican Restaurant in Connellsville, PA serves local residents and is a destination for trail users. The authentic cuisine offers a delicious selection for many dietary types, serving vegetarian and gluten free meals. Service at El Canelo is hard to beat, with staff always going the extra mile to make dining there a pleasant experience.
Next time you are in Connellsville, PA stop in at these two businesses to learn about their commitment to the Great Allegheny Passage and sustainability.
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!
In a perfect world, we could all bring reusable food containers and coffee mugs every time we visited a restaurant or cafe. However, when we’re ordering takeout, we forget to bring our own containers with us, or if they’re just inconvenient to carry on the go, we often need to use disposable boxes and cups.
With biodegradable take-out containers cheaper than ever, now is a great time for restaurants and cafes to do away with Styrofoam and paper and to adopt greener alternatives. While these alternatives do cost more than the traditional Styrofoam and paper cups and containers, their additional cost is relatively marginal over the course of a business year.
Whereas Styrofoam cups cost $25 per 1000, biodegradable cups can cost as little as $100 for 1000. This means that if your business uses 1000 disposable cups a year, the additional cost would be only $75 per year, which is the amount of money you might make in a single business day. With take-out containers, the additional costs for biodegradables can be less than $140 a year, if your business goes through 1000 of them in that time span.
That’s all it would cost to help curb the use and disposal of Styrofoam, a product that takes a minimum of 20 generations (500 years) to biodegrade, was made using a nonrenewable resource (petroleum), and could potentially be ingested by animals when it inevitably breaks into small pieces.
Paper cups, in many cases, have even fewer redeemable qualities than Styrofoam, considering that they do not insulate heat nearly as well, take much more energy to produce, and cost well more than Styrofoam, at about $80 per 1000 units—which is only about $20 less than some biodegradable alternatives.
When the time it takes for many paper cups to decompose (over 20 years, if the cup is coated with wax) is factored in, paper looks even less attractive than Styrofoam from both an economic and environmental standpoint.
Thus, while large chain restaurants might save a substantial amount of money using traditional Styrofoam, paper, and plastic, small businesses can substantially reduce their environmental footprint with only a minor additional investment in biodegradable take-out boxes and cups.
Here are some resources that explain the economics and environmental impact of Styrofoam, paper, and plastic disposable containers:
And the following links provide a good sampling and explanation of some biodegradable alternatives: