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Almanac Archive 10/24/2011

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Quote of the Week
"I'm queen of my own compost heap & I'm getting used to the smell"
- Ani DiFranco, Swan Dive, 1998

Mystery Photo

Can anyone identify this large chunk of something that washed up on our north shore following the high winds of last week? Click the image above for a closer look, and see this for a close-up of the metal used. Send your guesses to almanac@vineyardconservation.org
Conservation Calendar

Nature Program for Home Schoolers

Tuesday, Oct 25, 9 am to 3 pm, Aquinnah.
Sassafras Earth Education offers an outdoor education program for home-schooled K-8 aged students on Tuesdays. For more information and costs, see their program page. Many other offerings are available as well, including pre-school, Saturday youth programs, and family gatherings. To pre-register, call 508-645-2008.

Feed a Pig a Pumpkin Day

Tuesday, Nov 1,
Native Earth Teaching Farm, Chilmark.
Bring your old pumpkins out to the farm the day after Halloween for environmentally- and pig-friendly disposal. Native Earth is also open every Wednesday from 10 am to noon for toddler time, tours, farm sales, etc. For more information, call 508-645-3304 or see website.

Bird Walk

Tuesday, Nov 1, 8 am, Chilmark

Join Susan Whiting, co-author of Vineyard Birds, at the Chilmark Community Center for a morning bird walk. See CCC website for more information.

Winter Farmers Market
Saturday, Nov 5, 10 am to 1 pm at the Ag Hall in West Tisbury.

From the website: "The summer may be over but the West Tisbury Farmers Market continues through December. The Winter Market is an off season favorite, held indoors at the New Ag Hall with over 25 vendors, great food and live music!"

In Season Recipe

Carmelized Butternut Squash

Farm-fresh winter squash can be delicious even when prepared very simply. Some varieties, like the almost trendy heirloom Delicata, are so sweet that there's no real need for added sugar, or even to peel them.

Probably the most familiar, the Butternut is very versatile. It's also sweet enough to roast without sugar, but this recipe from Ina Garten (aka the Barefoot Contessa) is worth the extra calories. This is also a good example of the Butternut's versatility: most anything you can do with a yam, you can do with this squash, often better.

  • 2 medium butternut squash (4 to 5 pounds total)
  • 6 -8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  • Cut off the ends of each butternut squash and discard.
  • Peel the squash and cut in half lengthwise.
  • Using a spoon, remove the seeds.
  • Cut the squash into 1 1/4" to 1 1/2" cubes (large and uniform is best), and place them on a baking sheet.
  • Add the melted butter, brown sugar, salt and pepper.
  • With clean hands, toss all of the ingredients together and spread out in a single layer on the baking sheet.
  • Roast for 45 minutes to 55 minutes, until the squash is tender and the glaze begins to caramelize.
  • Turn the squash while roasting a few times with a spatula to be sure it browns evenly.
  • Adjust seasonings if needed.
  • Serve hot and enjoy!
Monday, October 24, 2011

Local News

Island Cooperative Compost Project Takes Root

Black gold

The Island Cooperative Compost Project is an effort to expand composting efforts on island, and to help make use of the many unused sources of organic matter. The group, including Philippe Morin of Island Alpaca and Chris Riger of Mermaid Farm, has begun offering hands-on workshops; you may also have seen them at the “Prize-winning Compost” demo at this year’s Living Local Harvest Festival. Along with their website, which features a great deal of information already, these workshops will make it easier for people new to composting to get started. We at VCS only ask that small, backyard composters make an effort to secure their compost piles, which can help promote populations of small mammals (such as skunks and rats) that threaten our nesting shorebirds.
This is a true grass-roots effort that is actively seeking input from any who are interested. Their objectives, from the website:

1: To dramatically increase the quantity and quality of compost made here on Martha’s Vineyard for use by Island farmers, gardeners and grassland managers.
2: To use as the primary measure of quality and primary production imperative the creation of a high percentage of stable humus in the finished compost.
3: In compost production to focus on enhancing the role and effectiveness of earthworms in the composting process and to utilize actual vermicomposting practices in many situations.
4: To develop production methods for also carrying on vermiculture to raise large quantities of earthworms for new compost production and for direct use as chicken food, etc.
5: To organize the project as much as possible as a cooperative effort and to make it self-sustaining.
6: As practical production methods evolve to make use of as much appropriate discarded organic material Island-wide as possible with animal manures being central to producing the most fertile compost.
7: To serve homeowners and small gardeners as well as large farmers, horse owners, groceries, restaurants, schools and landscapers in collection of compostable materials and supply of finished compost and earthworms for their use.

Calling Potential Visionaries

by Carolyn Champ, Director, Martha’s Vineyard Vision Fellowship
The Martha’s Vineyard Vision Fellowship supports talented and dynamic Island residents who are working in or pursuing education or training towards careers related to the sustainable future of Martha’s Vineyard. The Fellowship provides need-based tuition and living expenses for undergraduate or graduate degree programs as well as grants to support certification and other professional development activities such as workshops, courses and conferences for those already working in a related career.

In 2012 we are most interested in candidates who are working or interested in the following areas:
  • The development and adaptation of renewable energy technologies and energy efficient systems
  • Environmentally sustainable methods for dealing with water, waste and energy (especially composting, sewering and water nitrogen management)
  • Services that support aging in place for elderly Island residents (including healthcare, transportation and housing)
  • Alternative transportation
  • Conservation of open space and biodiversity
  • Affordable housing
Prior to submitting an application, all applicants must be nominated in writing by an Island organization committed to Island sustainability and willing to support the professional and educational development of the applicant. The deadline for nominations and applications is February 10, 2012. Interviews for qualified applicants will take place in March. For more information on how to apply or how to nominate a candidate, please visit our website or email us at info@vineyardvision.org.

Other News

Bait Fish and Switch

In a multi-part series, the Boston Globe is documenting the results of DNA testing of fish at Massachusetts restaurants, and the results are not pretty. The testing indicated that 48% of the 183 fish samples (collected from 134 restaurants) were not the species the menu claimed them to be. Often, it was simply a cheaper fish that was substituted, but in some cases, health and safety are also involved.
It is a long and detailed series, and well worth reading. However, for those who want to skip ahead and see what surprises might have been on their plate – and, yes, some Vineyard restaurants were tested – check out this summary table (you can sort by the “region” heading for Cape and Islands restaurants).
Apart from the disheartening results of their study, kudos to the Globe, for this combination of old-fashioned investigative reporting and modern technology, a bright spot among today's sea of scandal, disaster, and punditry-based journalism.

Massachusetts Jumps to Top of Energy Efficiency Rankings

The most efficient states are clustered in the Northeast and along the Pacific coast.

This year’s annual assessment by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy has Massachusetts climbing from #2 to #1 in the country, trading places with California, which had held the top spot the past five years (see the L.A. Times for more).

Scores were broken down into several categories, making it easier to see where there is more room to improve. For example, California still beat Massachusetts in transportation and appliance efficiency, with the Bay State making up ground in government programs and incentives. See page 8 of the full document for the state-by-state breakdown.

Submit your conservation news to: almanac@vineyardconservation.org

Copyright (C) *2011* *Vineyard Conservation Society* All rights reserved.

Original content by Jeremy Houser unless otherwise noted.