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Save the Date:
Saturday, April 11
The 23rd Annual
VCS for a great family event and annual tradition. This year we expect
to clean over 20 of our beaches -- look for a complete list on our
If you would like to volunteer, please give us a call at the office (508-693-9588), or email.
Quote of the Week
“It’s really about utilities’ fear that solar customers are taking away
demand. These customers are installing solar at their own cost and
providing a valuable resource: additional electricity for the grid at
the times when the utilities need it most. And it’s all carbon-free.”
Angela Navarro, Southern Environmental Law Center, regarding the
ongoing campaign to impose usage fees on owners of rooftop solar panels.
Backyard Mushroom Cultivation
Tuesday, March 17, 1:00 pm, Vineyard Haven
Meeting of the MV Garden Club featuring a guest talk from North Tabor
Farm on how to grow your own mushrooms. $10 (free for Garden Club
members), at the Wakeman Center on Lambert's Cove Rd.
Free Food and Farming Films
Wednesdays, March 18 and 25, at 6:30 pm, Oak Bluffs
The Farm Project, a high school program from Island Grown Schools, hosts two films on food and agriculture: Greenhorns (Mar 18) and Fed Up (Mar 25). At Alex's Place (YMCA), on the Edg/VH Road.
For more info, see Alex's Place
. . . and Further Farming Films: The Future of Farming
Saturday, March 21, 9:00 am, Chilmark
The MV Film Festival features five short films Saturday morning,
the story of oyster cultivation on Cape Cod, the Vineyard's own seed
library, urban farming in Detroit, an artisan butcher, and hopeful young
farmers in Maine. Followed by a farmer's breakfast at the Hay Cafe. More info and tickets at MVFF.
Webinar: Invasive Plant Management
Tuesday, March 24, 1:00 pm
Sustainable Forests Roundtable offers a free one-hour webinar on best
management practices for invasives. The course is worth 1 credit hour
for the Society of American Foresters. More info and instructions at website
Healing Fragmented Landscapes with Native Plants
Saturday, March 28, 2:30 to 3:30 pm, West Tisbury
Natural habitats on the Vineyard have become
overly segmented due to development and landscape alterations. Join Tim
Boland of Polly Hill Arboretum for a free presentation at the West Tisbury Library on how to use native plants around your home to help heal our Island's landscape.
Signal Hill Walk
Sunday, March 29, 1:00 to 3:00 pm, Chilmark
Sheriff's Meadow and TTOR co-host a walk at the Signal Hill Conservation
Restriction property. The hike features scenic views from the
(relatively) high land between Squibnocket and Menemsha Ponds. Free, but
space is limited, so preregistration is required: email
or (508) 693-7662.
In Season Recipe
Pea Shoot Pesto
It was way back in February, amidst all the snow and ice, that Island
Grown Schools featured the simple pea shoot as their Harvest of the
Month. But following such a long and cold winter, it seems even more
appropriate now as spring comes rushing in. Chef Robin's recipe
choice this time is very simple: gather some pea shoots, Parmesan
cheese, and kitchen essentials, put in the food processor, and enjoy a
fresh spring pesto! :
|Monday, March 16, 2015
New Fertilizer Restrictions Now in Effect
Going green is not always the best thing for the environment.
Last year at Town Meeting, voters of all six Island towns approved a new
bylaw that would regulate the sale and use of lawn fertilizer.
Importantly, the regulations apply to everyone: not just professional
lawn care companies, but homeowners as well. With spring right around
the corner, we want to make sure everyone knows how to stay in
compliance with the law while maintaining a healthy, non-polluting lawn.
To that end, VCS in partnership with the MV Boards of Health has
prepared an informational brochure for homeowners. It will be
distributed to local garden supply stores this spring, but you can get a
right now. There will also be a 1-day class this Saturday (Mar. 24)
from 10 am to 4 pm at the MVRHS Performing Arts Center. The course is
$35 for personal enrichment, or $85 if you plan to take the exam to
become licensed (and licensing itself is an additional $100). Space is
limited, so sign up today.
Intended to protect our waters from nutrient pollution, the new bylaw (full text here)
was created by the MV Boards of Health in consultation with the MV
Commission, using input from elected officials, local landscapers, golf
course managers, UMass Extension scientists, and many members of the
community, including VCS.
Fifty Tips for Protecting Our Island's Environment
As we celebrate our fiftieth birthday, VCS plans to share fifty tips to help all of us work more effectively toward that goal. Special thanks to Linda Jones for her work on this feature.
As picnic season approaches (yes, it's out there somewhere!) it’s easy
to slide into the careless use of disposables, often without even
thinking about it. This year, consider at least one new habit: cloth
napkins, even for the outdoors! The ultimate 'recyclable' item, one can
have a lot of fun with them. Try cutting out everyday napkins from old
clothes – mixing up patterns and fabrics, maybe pull some threads to
'fringe' them. Better yet, find something recyclable for the young folks
to make napkin rings out of too, like used ribbons braided together! Bon appétit!
New State Measures Seek to Discourage Alternative Energy
Georgia welcomes a new member into the sin tax club.
Two current efforts to discourage the use of alternative energy are
quite interesting for their strategy and sheer audacity. Possibly a move
to split the coalitions that support environmental policy, and
definitely one to put people’s values into conflict, these efforts share
a common theme: that adopters of more efficient or renewable energy
technology are saving themselves money, but imposing a “free rider” cost
First, as reported in the Washington Post,
intense pressure from electrical utilities and the fossil fuel industry
has swayed the public utility boards in several states to begin
allowing the utilities to impose fees upon homes with rooftop solar
panels. (It is truly an amazing story that we can’t do justice here, so
please read the WaPo article.) Second, a recent state transportation bill in Georgia
contains a provision that should raise eyebrows among
environmentalists: a $200 per year usage fee for “alternative fueled”
cars (mostly electric cars, but technically anything but gasoline). The
bill was thought to be controversial because in total it amounts to a
tax increase, but it sailed through the House easily and should soon
pass the Senate.
The “free rider” logic of these measures is not completely without
merit, and the rationale is broadly in the public interest. Most users
of rooftop solar remain connected to the grid and count on it to still
be there for them on cloudy days. Drivers of electric cars completely
avoid gasoline taxes that fund the roads on which they drive (though
this does require the acceptance of the premise that earmarked revenues
can ever truly be walled off from the general budget). And in both
cases, these technologies may save the user money in the long run but
have upfront costs that make them less accessible to the poor. The
industry backers of these measures claim that they are not motivated by
profit, but rather a concern that costs for public infrastructure are
being shifted onto the people who can least afford it.
The problem is that the argument is so narrow and short-sighted as to
become very silly when examined at all. For starters, if owners of
roof-top solar panels are free riders, so is anyone who makes
an effort to lower their electricity usage while remaining connected to
the grid. So, all of you moochers need to start pulling your weight and
tear out that extra attic insulation right now! And please, for the sake
of society, crank up that electric hot water heater to its highest
Second, at least in regard to Georgia’s use tax for electric vehicles,
the size of the fee ($200) provides a clue that this is not simply a
pure-of-heart effort to recover public revenue lost to tax-dodging
drivers. The new excise tax on gasoline will be 29.2 cents per gallon,
so the usage fee represents the unpaid tax on about 685 gallons of gas.
Which, if we take a conservative guess at the fuel economy of a typical
electric car if it were to run on gas instead – say, 35 MPG –
corresponds to about 24,000 miles driven per year. That's quite a lot of
driving (78% more than the average number of miles driven in the US),
mostly in cars that are lighter and less damaging on average to roads
and bridges. This makes it fairly clear that apart from raising revenue
the new tax is intended to actively discourage the purchase of these
Finally, the big one: the use of fossil fuels is itself the ultimate free rider problem.
Climate change, air pollution, foreign policy that treats oil
availability as a national security issue: those are also costs borne by
society. Perhaps those costs are harder to quantify than that of
maintaining roads or the electrical grid, but they are obviously much
greater. But today we still have no carbon tax; instead we have taxes on
electric cars and user fees for solar panels.