Habits for Your Habitat ~ Guide to the Good

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Since 2011, thegreenrock.ca has been sharing stories about great local, green and savvy initiatives.  Along the way we’ve been talking to loads of local business owners, environmental practitioners, and community organizations.  So good, so inspiring, and so needed!  We realized that there is more we can do to make our communities more sustainable and more resilient, and we are working on it!

Habits for Your Habitat ~ guide to the good is work in progress that will make it easier and more practical for people to make sustainable choices. It’s about what we do where we live.  The new platform will promote local businesses (kitchen-table operations as well as thriving storefronts), highlight organizations, profile cool people and translate complex science into practical tips for everyday habits.

Since things ‘local’ are key to project success, we are surveying consumers,local business owners and community organizations to identify how ‘local’ fits into purchasing decisions and marketing activities.

think planet.  live local.

 

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thegreenrock.ca is a non-profit that informs and inspires people in Newfoundland and Labrador on ways to address the challenges facing our planet, our communities, and our lives.  like and share!

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reasons to like the weather – July 2015, NL

wpid-20140104_160321.jpg1. no mosquitos

2. people stay close – seeking body heat

3. no shoveling

4. it’s not too hot.

5. if you’re not pleased with the location of your plants, you can transplant them no problem

6.  the air is not choked with smoke from forest fires

7.  people aren’t complaining about the heat

8.  sunburn is not a problem

9.  hair curls

10.  cool weather vacations are trendy

11.  there are good jokes

12.  the weather is good for running the Tele 10

13.  it’s good for allergies

14.  it’s good for fishing

15.  the grass is nice and green

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thegreenrock.ca is a non-profit that informs and inspires people in Newfoundland and Labrador on ways to address the challenges facing our planet, our communities, and our lives.  like and share!

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how sweet it is – first time tapping

2015-04-25 12.16.14o how sweet is spring!  the days have softened and our first tapping season is over.

first big thought is man, those trees are humbling.  tapping connects the person to the tree as well as the tree to a bucket.  trees are big, and strong and beautiful.  they are alive.  they provide shade and cover.  they produce carbon dioxide we breathe.

that thought is as simple as day follows night, and it is astonishing. more astonishing that wi-fi.  and the sap is ambrosia.

the idea to tap was generated in 2014 at the Friends of Pippy Park tapping demo, and galvanized at the Maple Tapping workshop with Lisa and Steve McBride in February. detailed how-to here.

owen the teenaged boy was chief tapping guy, and we started around the third week in March.  we looked at bark and branches, found out which way was south, and felt the life in the tree as we touched it. so much life that drilling the hole felt uncomfortable.   respectfully, we tapped four trees, a silver maple (imported by a neighbour 40 odd years ago from Moncton, NB), one on our street, one in the garden, and one on LeMarchant Road.  owen was collector for the nearby trees.   Nina and Jerome tended the tree on LeMarchant.

the first boil up took a day indoors on the stove and yielded about a cup of syrup.  (square bottle, top left).  filtering was a challenge as I was using a coffee filter, but the filter took too much.  i double sieved it, thus (I think) the cloudiness.

the second boil took two days indoors on the stove, and yielded almost a liter of syrup (second bottle from left).  it was strained through a double sheet of cheesecloth and a sieve.  during this boil i became concerned about the steam.  even with the fan on and the windows open, the house felt like a big damp sponge.  add in thoughts about poor use of water, time and energy in transforming 20 liters of water to steam and the project needed a re-jig.   a conversation with Maggie Kieley about her success in freezing sap encouraged  me to try another idea.

the third boil (third from left) was done on a propane tank outdoors and filtered through cheesecloth and a sieve.  it was a huge batch… maybe 25 liters, and it yielded more than a liter of the darkest sap.  it took a full tank of propane, and it took three days. it was a step toward the freeze method.  at that time it was still freezing on many days (as well as nights), so we didn’t boil what was frozen. it improved efficiency/reduced boiling time, but it felt wrong to throw out the sap.

the fourth boil (far right) was done on a propane tank outdoors. it took a couple of hours, sieved through a t-shirt-like cotton, and yielded the lightest colour syrup   it was a bit of eureka boil.  after collecting the sap we froze it, and boiled the first half (or so) of what melted.  (we used a weird drip method whereby the frozen container was put upside down in a very large spouted bowl.  there is something about the way sugar freezes that may yield higher concentrations if poured this way.).  when the rest of sap melted, we saved it for drinking.  lovely with a whisper of sweet at the end.  it’s probably very good for the body.
11149657_10155500401170710_5527849448356942213_oon the day it got warm we removed the taps. sooner than necessary as it turned out.  the trees looked bare, and with nothing to catch the sap, you could easily imagine that the tree was crying so we stopped the leaking with a dowel. bad idea it turns out.  new information from experienced tappers says that’s not the way to go:  best to let the sap flow as long as it flows.   keep collecting the sap as long as it’s clear, but if it’s cloudy, the fermentation process is starting to happen.  the literature says that the tree will heal by the end of the summer (photo at right is a healed tree).  place next year’s tap several inches away.

between now and then we will share and revere the syrup.  people often say something doesn’t taste as good if you cook it yourself, but this doesn’t hold true for maple syrup. all the shades are gorgeous to see and taste.   it’s explosive and gentle at the same time, silky and sticky, powerful and soft, a mix of two opposites.   kind of like the tree.

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thegreenrock.ca is a non-profit that informs and inspires people in Newfoundland and Labrador on ways to address the challenges facing our planet, our communities, and our lives.  like and share!

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the kids are alright! exploring and creating with the planet in mind

kids are growing well as Vanier Elementary!

kids are growing well as Vanier Elementary!

remember grade 6?  that magical time between little and teen.  all the goings-on!  in February thegreenrock.ca was delighted to spend an afternoon with the crowd of grade sixes at Vanier Elementary in St. John’s.

born in 2003, these guys are digital natives. touching buttons, navigating screens, and using media is not technology advancing, it’s how it’s always been.  they are interested in lots of things – what their contemporaries are doing of course, and they love the smart phones and tablets and other devices, but they have an encouraging sense of the wider world around them.  this sense is due in no small part to the grade six curriculum brought to life by the inspiration and dedication of teachers (nods to Mme Daley, Ms Meehan and Mme Chafe).  these 11- and 12-year olds use technology as a tool to explore, create, learn, and take action.  if thegreenrock.ca session is a good indication, critical thinking is part of the process.

thegreenrock.ca was there to talk about interactions with the planet, from climate change to the effects of natural and man-made changes in the environment.  it was a lively, thoughtful, and thought-provoking conversation!  these guys include a sixth R in the series of Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot: they Respond.

on the day of thegreenrock.ca visit, one class received accolades (and five ipads!) from Newfoundland Power for their award-winning video submission to the TakeChargeNL challenge.  the video is created in the style of Family Feud (en francais!), and teaches about habits that conserve energy.  the video was a hit, and it didn’t stop there.  a few days later, the intent of the group was broadcast throughout the province when a student called up the VOCM Open Line show and shared energy conservation tips on behalf of the class.

also on that day, the other grade six class harvested their first lettuce!   though the bell had rung,  the school day was over, and it was a Friday, a stream of kids were thrilled to offer a tour of the farm.  they are justly proud of their operation.    the growing equipment is neat, compact, and very productive. they like the light and warmth, and the scent of earth in the classroom.  but, as Emily said, the best part is the eating.  harvest time is coming for tomatoes, basil, beans, and peas in the classrom at Vanier.  that’s very encouraging because things are growing well.

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thegreenrock.ca is a non-profit that informs and inspires people in Newfoundland and Labrador on ways to address the challenges facing our planet, our communities, and our lives.  like and share!

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meeting of the green! Green Drinks at Bitters

the tables turned last night at Bitters, when the Green Drinks St. John’s  aficionados gathered over pints and conversations about living sustainably.

the tables did actually turn, when the number of people who appeared was greater than the number the original set-up accommodated.  more importantly though, all present were fortified to know that there is a strong, bright, all-ages community of people who have great green ideas and practices.  so much on the go!  all over Bitters there were conversations about solar and wind power, net metering, coffee that gives back, local action on the Green Party, the economy of ecology, and more.

in keeping with the notion to unite the various networks interested in sustainability, the next Green Drinks session is set for March 25 at Erin’s, where CPAWS (Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society) is celebrating Gros Morne.  all welcome, no charge.

cropped-thegreenrock-1.pngthegreenrock.ca is a non-profit that informs and inspires people in Newfoundland and Labrador on ways to address the challenges facing our planet, our communities, and our lives.  like and share!

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Common Ground – space

cool stuff on the go on Harvey Road in St. John’s!  Common Ground is a non-profit co-working space that’s affordable, friendly (there is even a common ground hound!), and creates an instant collaborative community.

http://youtu.be/aBhTKFqgfvE

Common Ground-ers love the experience, especially the collaborative-ness.  entrepreneurs, freelancers, creatives, and others in need of space to create and build can use it.  thegreenrock.ca Conservation Corps green team 2014 paid a visit to Jennifer Smith on a quiet day in August (it was hot back then!), and she shared the big picture.  for this vid, David Maher was the  director/interviewer; Chris Ball on audio, and Jeff Smyth behind the camera.  the music – Acoustic Breeze – is composed and performed by Bensound.

in July and August 2014 thegreenrock.ca Conservation Corps Green Team – Tamara Segura, Chris Ball, David Maher and Team Lead Jeff Smyth talked and taped, walked in the sun, swung on the swings, got out there and got inspired by the great green good going on in the Northeast Avalon.  Over the coming months their work will be released on thegreenrock.ca.

thegreenrock.ca Conservation Corps Green Team 2014 was sponsored by Junior Forest Wardens NL.  (thank you!)

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#g2kgtg – cheese on Saturday

make your own cheese!

make your own cheese!

it’s not over yet byes!   the end of the season is the other side of the weekend, but between then and now is a rare chance to make a #gtkgtg that will soothe the last leg of Christmas.  5H Giving – handmade, homemade, local.

say cheese.  Feta, Paneer, Ricotta.

make cheese.  for real.

my old school friend turned back to the land, and has set up  a farm in Nova Scotia.  home for Christmas, she’s running a Cheesemaking 101 workshop.  I know her as Heather Squires, but she’s known as the CURD GIRL.   she’s running a fun, lovely afternoon of cheesemaking tomorrow, Saturday 2-5 pm on MacPherson Street, near the Mall.  workshop cost is $50, which you can bring.  (if the $ in hand is a deal-breaker let Heather know, and ye can work something out).

also bring milk (whole, red container is best), but all other required materials are supplied. but there will be cheese to taste so if you’d like to bring something to drink with the tasting, that is good.

inbox Heather to let her know you’re coming and get specifics.

 

and since we’re near the end, thank you.  #g2kgtg the good to know gifts that give series has been a hit!  sharing little treasures that grow up from kitchen tables and creative souls has been a pleasure. thanks to all who have kindly encouraged me, thanks to the new friends i’ve met along the way, and thanks to those who have used their purchasing power to buy local!

(happy to report that there is so many more lovely things out there.  this morning i found my way to Rock Paper Flowers on Water Street West.  there is a whole new world there!  i’m looking forward to finding out more.)

 

cropped-thegreenrock_small.pnggood to know gifts that give (#g2kgtg) is a special project of thegreenrock.ca that looks at local gifts that people will like, use, and won’t leave an unnecessarily big footprint on the planet or humankind.  please like and share!

thegreenrock.ca is a non-profit that informs and inspires people in Newfoundland and Labrador on ways to address the challenges facing our planet, our communities, and our lives.  like and share!                   facebook thegreenrock.ca, google+ thegreenrock.ca