great day – Earth Day 2017 !

thegreenrock-ers Amanda Russell and Perla Hernandez thegreenrock.ca's booth on Earth Day

thegreenrock-ers Amanda Russell and Perla Hernandez at the Earth Day Fair

Saturday afternoon rain didn’t stop crowds of boisterous families from making it to the Earth Day Fair at the Suncor Fluvarium on April 22!  Over 250 people attended the event! Just about all of them stopped at thegreenrock.ca’s booth to learn about ways to take action, take care of the planet, and how to live sustainably.

Each year, 1 billion people in more than 195 countries celebrate  Earth Day worldwide. The key purpose is to get people together, to celebrate mother nature, and think about ways in which they can take action.

In line with this message, thegreenrock.ca was very pleased and excited to share our signature projects for this year:

  • #playoutdoors ~ Less screen time and more time outdoors! In collaboration with the Junior Forest Wardens-NL, #playoutdoors raises awareness about nature deficit disorder and challenges families to get outdoors, make new friends and learn new skills.
  • ReGeneration: The Plastic Bag Project (coming up!) ~ An intergenerational awareness and action program that brings seniors and students together to share strengths, and transfer skills toward a common purpose of recycling single-use plastic bags through crafting durable tote bags. This project is supported by The Co-operators IMPACT! Fund 2017.
  • Guide to the Good ~ A social enterprise that makes it easier for people to choose local for their purchasing and lifestyle choices. Local businesses bring economic, ethical and social benefits to our lives and our communities. Guide to the Good is currently being piloted in the Northeast Avalon, but the goal is for there to be a guide to the good in communities everywhere!

Visitors were asked to participate in the “how do you fit in?” campaign and to think about ways in which they can help protect the environment through their daily actions.

At the end of the day we had some local giveaways from businesses featured on the Guide to the Good. The draw was live-streamed via Facebook

Facebook Live of the guide to the good draw

  • Prize #1 Local Basket!
    Jumping Bean‘s low CO2 emission roasting coffee; hypoallergenic, artisan soaps and body products made locally from St. John’s Soap Works; and local hand-knitted hat by Casey’s Crafts.
  • Prize #2 Firewood and Coffee! 
    Bundles of local sustainable and licensed firewood from Firewood Factory; 2 gift-cards from  Jumping Bean .

Two winners were randomly selected out of 104 individual tickets. Congrats Olivia and Joan!

 

 

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In Other Words – why it is important to plant trees

Basil English,

Basil English, Silviculture supervisor of Newfoundland’s Forestry and Agrifoods Agency

People often say that planting trees is a good deed for the environment, but when you try to add it up, you realize the value of a living tree is incalculable to our planet and the species on it.  So to get to the root of the matter, we interviewed the Tree Guy aka Basil English, Silviculture supervisor of Newfoundland’s Forestry and Agrifoods Agency.

Is planting trees good for the environment?

Yes with out a doubt! 

Does it help address climate change?

So there are a few ways in which planting trees help address climate change: some of the direct-effective benefits of plantings trees are that they absorb carbon and release oxygen.  We breathe what they create.

Trees also help mitigate climate change by keeping urban temperatures cooler areas in the summer by providing shade to buildings and homes during summer. This reduces the need for the use of air conditioners (though not so much here in Newfoundland!). In winter trees block wind and reduce wind speeds keeping houses and buildings warmer, which also helps reduce energy usage

Does planting trees here in Newfoundland make a difference in other parts of the world?

Climate cycles have no borders, but it’s difficult to see direct impacts. BUT any measure taken in any single country will have benefits everywhere. By planting trees, we increase the carbon we sequester and we reduce energy consumption.

Does planting a tree in your own backyard make a difference?

Large-scale tree planting projects have larger impacts on the environment, but individuals planting trees can have a bunch of benefits by helping people act in a way that is very real, physical and connects people with their environment. Too often people feel helpless when it comes to global environmental challenges. This is a way people can look at the tree growing as something tangible. 

In urban settings, trees provide habitat for birds and larger animals, and improve aesthetics (and property values). They also make people feel good – there are many studies showing that people’s mental health can be improved by nature, which helps them feel more content and with a better sense of wellbeing.

Depending on where you live, trees can also help reduce noise pollution from cars, buses, and industry.  

What are some of the environmental benefits of planting trees?

On the larger scale, trees and forests are part of the earth’s ecosystem. Trees help improve water quality by filtering water pollutants. In addition, they slow down the movement of water which reduces the risk of flooding. Trees also can sequester pollutants from the air, water and soil.  

When is the best time to plant trees in Newfoundland and Labrador?

It depends on your ability to take care of the tree. Through our Department’s reforestation program we plant trees on an industrial scale – millions of trees – and those trees are usually on their own so we usually plant from spring through summer so that the trees have time to acclimatize for the winter. It is really about being careful and making sure the roots are handled carefully and the tree is well watered. So if you are planting in your backyard you can probably plant from May (or when it begins to thaw) to September/October. 

So there you have it! Planting trees is a good deed for the environment, and for yourself, and it doesn’t matter if you plant 1, 2, 3 or even 100 trees – it’s all good! So grab a shovel and get your hands dirty!

thegreenrock.ca is proud to partner with Junior Forest Wardens NL for the Annual Tree Sale.   In Other Words is a project of thegreenrock.ca – Guide to the Good. You know when people start talking about the importance of taking care of the environment, and you’re interested, but it’s hard to pay attention when they talk about the microns, the quarks and parts per million? In Other Words makes scientific information understandable and practical.   If you like it, share it!

cropped-thegreenrock-1.pngthegreenrock.ca is a not-for–profit company 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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Happy Earth Day!- living la vida local

last Sunday thegreenrock.ca, with support from Memorial University, Department of Forestry and Agrifoods, and some really cool local businesses launched the How do You Fit in? initiative during the Earth Day Fair at the Suncor Fluvarium.   It goes like this:  the earth is one big beautiful interconnected system, and we all have a role to play in caring for it.  When it comes to ‘thinking planet and living local’, we asked, “How do you fit in?”

how do you fit in

and guests to the Fluvarium answered!   the liked the sneak-peek preview of the Habits for Your Habitat ~ Guide to the Good site that we’ve been building on the past months; they lined up for the white spruce seedlings which we completely ran out of;  they wanted to win the excellent “Living Local” draw with some of St. John’s finest – goodies from St. John’s Soap Works, a ‘Shop Local’ poster, a gift certificate from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, as well as locally made fire-weed jam from Casey’s Crafts.  (congrats Nicole!)

But the biggest deal of the day was how people see themselves fitting in – and there are so  many ways.  Answers came in English, Spanish, Korean on paper, in voice, in video and in art.  Turns out there is great love on for the earth, and once our voices join in unison we will do a better job of caring for our planet.

Let’s keep going!  thegreenrock.ca is now moving into phase 2  which is the development of a creative ‘talking pictures’ and an some insight on living la vida local with Dr. Sean McGrath from For A New Earth. The responses we received were very inspiring !  We can’t wait to share it with you.

Stay tuned

cropped-thegreenrock-1.pngthegreenrock.ca is a not-for–profit company that informs and inspires people in Newfoundland and Labrador on ways to address thegreenrock.ca is a not-for–profit company 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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green is the new red: Valentine’s winter market

on Valentines day we celebrate our love and appreciation to the people we care about but we can do so while supporting our community and our planet !

check out some amazing local treats from creative hands and farmers cellars at the Valentines winter market from 10:00 am – 3:00 pm at the Royal Canadian Legion. there will be a variety of local vendors including  farmers bringing meat and eggs, artisan cheese, homemade bread and baked goods, spices, art, jewelry, t-shirts and apparel handmade soaps and much more!

local products typically have a smaller ecological footprint and they also help to build our community and local economy.

love ❤ xoxo

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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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Habits for Your Habitat ~ Guide to the Good

survey 1 shot

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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three old growing questions, renewed

we’ve been here on the island in the north Atlantic for a long time.  potatoes, wheat and soybean is the topic.  three questions:

can they grow in western newfoundland?

under what conditions can it be economically feasible?

can we do it sustainably?

Memorial’s Dr. Catherine Keske et al are looking for the answers.  here’s the story.

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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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