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Almanac Archive 7/18/2011

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MV Farm Project

Monday, July 18, 7:00 pm
at the Ag Hall in West Tisbury
Please come for an information meeting about the MV Farm Project, an effort to preserve permanently the former Thimble Farm as a sustainable, working farm that will produce food for Island residents in perpetuity. Free.

Quote of the Week
“It is a curious situation that the sea, from which life first arose should now be threatened by the activities of one form of that life. But the sea, though changed in a sinister way, will continue to exist; the threat is rather to life itself.”
- Rachel Carson, The Sea Around Us

Conservation Calendar

Marine Discovery Tour
Tuesday, July 19, at 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
, Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary.
Explore Vineyard Sound on board the Skipper with Captain John and a Felix Neck Naturalist. Call for details, pre-registration required, (508) 627-4850. Adults $40 ($30 for members), children $4 less.

Plant Exploration in a Changing World
Wednesday, July 20 at 7:30 pm, at the Polly Hill Arboretum Far Barn. 
Kris Bachtel will speak about the importance of plant exploration in solving the climate crisis. $10 non-members, $5 members. For details, call 508-693-9426.

Locally Grown, to Support our Schools

Every Friday in July and August, from 9:00 a.m. to noon at the Edgartown School.
Sponsored by the Edgartown PTO, the weekly farmers' market offers produce grown in the school's own raised bed gardens, in addition to many other local items, including jewelry, artwork, clothing, crafts, breads, and other gourmet foods. Conveniently located at the school, with lots of parking and playgrounds for the kids.

Woods Hole Climate Fair

Friday, July 22 from 10:00 am to 2:30 pm at the Redfield Laboratory Lawn, WHOI, 45 Water St., Woods Hole.

There's something for all ages at the Climate Fair, from hands-on activities, story telling, and face painting, to informal discussions with scientists and climate talks in the Redfield Auditorium between 11:30 and 1:30.

In Season Recipes

Forager's Fare:
Berry Coffee Cake

This simple coffee cake is incredibly flexible, working great with wineberries or any other berries that are ready for picking. In the fall, try diced apples tossed with cinnamon and sugar or any other firm fruit.


     Cake Batter
  • 1 C sugar
  • ½ C butter
  • 2 local eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 ½ C flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 C Mermaid Farm yogurt
     Crumb Topping
  • 1 C packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 Tbl. butter
Preheat over to 375 degrees and grease a 9 x 13'' pan. For cake batter, first cream together sugar, butter, eggs, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry mixture to the creamed a little at a time, alternating with the yogurt. Once those are mixed, fold in 2 cups of berries and pour into the greased pan.

For the topping, mix the brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter with a fork and sprinkle over batter. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Crispy Kale

This perennial favorite at the FARM Institute is a healthy alternative to fried processed snacks that kids enjoy both making and eating.

  • 1 bunch of local kale
  • 1-2 Tbl. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash and thoroughly dry kale. Remove kale leaves from thick stems and tear into 1-2 inch pieces. (The stems can be saved for a vegetable stock.) Toss with olive oil until coated. Spread kale on a pan in a single layer and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until edges are brown but not burnt.
Monday, July 18, 2011

Local News

Shrink-Wrap Wrap-up

Ready for summer

VCS just received word that the container of used boating shrink-wrap is full and ready to be hauled off-island for recycling. Special thanks to R.M. Packer Company and Bruno’s Rolloff, Inc. for their participation in storing and transferring the material. Over the past three years, the boat wrap recycling program has kept thousands of pounds of plastic (8,000 pounds last year alone!) from being incinerated or taking up landfill space. Once it’s weighed at the recycling facility we’ll know if we hit this year’s goal of 10,000 pounds. Considering that the purpose of the wrap is to resist the elements throughout the winter, it’s safe to say this is a strong and durable plastic that we should make every effort to keep out of the environment. The VCS shrink-wrap team is currently considering options for expanding the program to accept some of the other non-degradable materials that play a large role on our island, such as poly rope for boating and hay shrink-wrap.

The Vineyard is far from the only place shrink-wrapped boats spend the winter, and fortunately there are signs that recycling programs may gradually become widespread. Most encouraging, considering the popularity of boating in the state, Rhode Island has instituted a state-wide recycling program. Perhaps this program, created by the Rhode Island Marine Trade Association, could serve as a model for a statewide plan in Massachusetts. Originally funded by a $15,000 grant, the program is now in its eighth year of successful operation.

Wineberry Season

Wineberries, just before opening

Over the next week you may notice an interesting transformation occurring on a vaguely blackberry-like bramble. Wineberries are relatives of raspberries and blackberries (all in the genus Rubus), easily distinguished from the others by their reddish stems covered by soft bristles and two-toned leaves (bright green above and nearly white below). The protective covering over the ripening fruit (the calyx, pictured above) is opening up right now, revealing a nearly ripe fruit that will be ready to pick in another week or two. The bright red fruits most closely resemble raspberries, but are juicier and more tart than sweet. Unfortunately, wineberry (also called Japanese wineberry or wine raspberry) is an exotic species introduced from East Asia that competes vigorously with our native plants, including our slower-growing, and even better-tasting, black raspberries.
Should we be worried about the spread of wineberry? It can be hard to tell for sure whether an exotic species will become invasive when introduced to a new location, but there are some characteristics that point to potential trouble. Unfortunately, biological invasions were historically of little concern, and many species were deliberately introduced whose invasiveness seems obvious (in hindsight, yes, but it seems foresight was lacking as well). Some of today’s worst invaders (for example, Multiflora rose and Asiatic bittersweet) were introduced because they possessed traits that we would today identify as invasive (production of huge numbers of fruits, rapid growth over disturbed areas), but seemed useful at the time (forage for wildlife, stabilization of soil). The Massachusetts Invasive Plant Advisory Group was formed to create an authoritative list of invasive traits and a system for identifying which plants should be prohibited from sale in the state. Wineberry is listed as “likely invasive” by MIPAG, meaning that it has some, but not all, of the traits of extremely problematic invasive species.
So, what to do with an exotic plant that produces abundant, tasty fruit but could someday cause serious harm to native biodiversity? If you find it on a walk through one of our many public conservation areas, this would be one exception to the most basic rule of good foraging practice: collect all the fruits. Normally, foragers should harvest only a small portion of the plant so as not to harm the population (and of course it’s just bad manners to deprive future trail visitors by hoarding all the blackberries). But in this case, preventing the spread of seed probably overrides sharing with our fellow walkers. If you have wineberry at home, the best thing to do would be to collect the fruit this month and then remove the plants in the fall. If you can’t give up your back-yard berries, please cut back the canes and restrict its spread. We don’t want to see this “likely invasive” re-categorized as fully invasive in the next release of the list.

Other News

The Other Plastic Problem

The 5 great gyres, or vortexes of the world's oceans: Though the North Pacific is most famous, each has its own garbage patch.

From the infamous Great Pacific Garbage Patch to the more mundane, but frustrating sight of plastic debris washed ashore during a storm, the enormous amount of garbage, mostly plastic, floating in the ocean is an obvious problem. However, if we were to ever remove and recycle the floating debris from the ocean (and it could be done, given sufficient effort: see Project Kaisei), there is a more intractable problem beneath the surface. The ocean is powerful enough to break the plastic bottles, bags, sheeting, etc. down into tiny particles called microplastics, but lacks the ability to fully degrade them (a chemical breakdown that requires very high temperatures). These microplastics are then easily ingested by fish and other marine animals. A recent study by scientists at the University of California, San Diego estimates that fish in the northern Pacific ingest between 12,000 and 24,000 tons of plastic a year. The greatest concern is that the particles appear to absorb toxic chemicals and may be small enough to move up the food chain (see U.N. Environmental Program report), bioaccumulating in predators rather than only harming the fish to first eat them. For more information on plastics in the ocean, this series of articles by Bettina Wassener of the N.Y. Times is highly recommended.
Ultimately, the only real solution is to prevent the plastic from ending up in the ocean in the first place. New programs and regulations have helped with some of the big sources: cruise ships, for example, now pulp or incinerate their garbage before dumping it at sea. But still, a huge amount of plastic finds its way into the oceans every year, much of it from a collection of tiny acts – litter that washes down storm drains, food wrappers lost to the wind at the beach, etc. This is why plastic recycling programs are so important, especially the collective benefit of smaller, local efforts like the boat shrink-wrap program and the VCS Island-wide Recycling Initiative’s sponsorship of recycling containers at the Steamship Authority.

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.