Since I got involved in resisting climate change, I became very interested in local foods (as you may know). Getting interested in local foods, I threw myself into gardening. Beginning to garden, I learned what I could about composting. Learning about composting led me to the wonders of worm composting (“vermiculture”). It can be done neatly and without bad odors, indoors, with very cheap materials, turning out top-notch compost in a short period of time. What’s not to love? Not to mention there are cute little cuddly worms involved.
You don’t compost with just any worms: the proper species are red wigglers. Since there’s no place to get those locally (which of course would be my first choice–and no, buying them from a local store that orders them through the mail doesn’t count), I went online to Uncle Jim’s Worm Farm and ordered me up a batch. I also went to this Web site, where I did a rough approximation of the instructions there to get a bin ready for my new little invertebrate friends. (By the way, I tried their suggested method of gathering worms and sadly came up with nothing but snails and slugs.)
Here my worms have just arrived and are going into their new home. Please excuse the extra camera movement.
You may have been wondering why it’s been almost two weeks since I’ve posted–or more likely you’re thinking “Oh, he didn’t post for two weeks? I hadn’t noticed.” Regardless, the reason, I’m glad to say, is that I’ve been walking the proverbial walk more than talking the proverbial talk lately. Here are a few things that have been going on lately with our family:
- Built a tool to help people find CSAs. It only has information for the Champlain Valley of Vermont and New York so far, but the CSA Matchmaker walks you through a few simple questions to suggest the best fit for you in finding a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) plan that works for you. With CSAs, you make a deal directly with the farmer, paying up front or over the course of the season in exchange for regular (usually weekly) shares of produce and sometimes other products (cheese, bread, eggs, meats, prepared foods, etc.).
- Joined a new CSA. We’ve participated in two great local CSAs in the past, but were looking for the widest possible variety of food and a pickup location that we could manage more easily. I used the CSA Matchmaker myself, and we’re now enrolled in a year-round CSA that provides not only produce, but also bread, cheese, honey, a few prepared foods, grass fed and organic meats, and more–all locally raised.
- Went solar. After hearing about SunCommon from Jamie Ervin, we got in touch and had our site evaluated for solar panels to meet our electricity needs. Even though our house is surrounded by trees and our best roof exposure is essentially west-facing rather than south-facing, the solar possibilities there are good, and we’re in process for getting solar panels that will supply almost all of our energy needs (sending extra electricity produced to the grid and taking energy back from the grid when we need it and aren’t producing enough). The cost for us is a fraction more than our normal monthly electricity bill, though for other people who don’t have some of the same constraints we do (a vent pipe that has to be moved, another house connected to ours that makes us require special permitting, south-facing roof, etc.) the cost might be at or below your monthly electricity bill.
- Started our gardens. I have never been a gardener: the best I’ve done is a little weeding here and there. We’ve had a garden the past two years, but Janine has been doing all the work and hasn’t been able to keep the whole thing up on her own. This year, having become much more conscious of the importance of local food, I found a garden teacher (Peggy, Head Gardener at the local cooperative garden business Gardeners’ Supply) and am replacing the fence, moving the compost system, starting worm bins, weeding like crazy, and otherwise moving forward on getting our vegetable garden in place and some gardening knowledge in my head.
- Cut back on driving. For a long time I had considered cutting back on driving essentially impossible. There’s a commuter bus from my home to my workplace, but it takes an hour longer in travel time every day and leaves on a schedule that’s difficult for me to work with. Also, almost every work day I have somewhere I have to be after work, so I can’t take the bus–except that, of course, I can. I’m moving my work schedule earlier in the day so that by getting up a bit earlier, I can work a slightly earlier shift and still be back to my car in the commuter parking lot before I need to pick up my son, get the CSA share, show up at Taekwondo, or whatever it is that day. I’m able to use the extra time I spend commuting working–because I don’t have to drive while I’m doing it. The cost is comparable to the gas and wear and tear on my hybrid car.
I’ve also gotten together with the parents of a couple of friends of my son to carpool for after school activities, lowering car usage more. This will be an ongoing process, but there’s already less gas having to go into my car.
- And this, and this, and this and this and this … Beyond these projects, I’ve been planning out a Kickstarter designed to implant a vivid image of what our communities need to become to withstand and fight back climate change, am adding some very substantial new local foods tools and resources to the Localsourcers.org site (more on that soon), and am otherwise trying to push back against climate change in every way I can.
If you don’t hear from me for another two weeks or so, assume it’s all going great … not that I’ve dropped dead of exhaustion.