Author Archive

Get It Local: Think Boise First

Get It Local

Capital City Public Market
On Saturday July 11 Kalee, my boyfriend Ben Rodwell, Beth, and myself joined about 30 other volunteers in downtown Boise at the Capital City Farmer’s Market to assist with a Rapid Market Assessment. The RMA provides economic information about shoppers at the market and counts the total number of market attendees. Our duty was to ask market shoppers to participate in a dot survey; 4 questions with multiple choice answers were on 4 different boards. We handed them 4 dot stickers and they placed a dot in the column corresponding to their answers. The questions asked how often they shop at the market, what they buy (produce, crafts, art) how much they spend, and how much they spend at other downtown businesses. Other volunteers stood at all the entrances to the market and counted the people walking in with clickers. The last RMA was held 3 years ago and the total attendance count was at about 11,000. This year the total count was over 17,000 market shoppers! It is great to see the trend of more people buying fresh local produce and supporting their local farmers.

After the RMA we had the opportunity to visit with a local Boise business owner running a restaurant with a strong commitment to sustainability. Red Feather Lounge & Bittercreek Alehouse At Red Feather & Bittercreek they cook incredible food that comes from as many local growers as possible. They include food miles on their menu, showing how far each item traveled to get there. They have a huge worm compost bin in the basement and compost their organic food waste. They use recycled wine bottles as dinner glasses, and use their own ketchup bottles. It’s wonderful and inspiring to see how it’s the little changes that make the big differences. If you’re looking for a delicious restaurant and want to know they are committed to sustainability, check out this great restaurant in downtown Boise.

Advertisements

Leave a comment »

Canyon Bounty Farm

I took my first Environmental Studies course at C of I last winter term, the interdisciplinary course ‘Nature and Culture.’ It really opened my mind to the serious environmental problems facing our world , and made me realize that sustainability applies to every aspect of our lives. I decided that I wanted to learn how to personally become more sustainable and in order to do so I wanted to learn more about growing my own food. I google searched organic farms in the local area, to see if I might be able to find a farm that needed a few extra hands. I was so lucky to find Beth Rasgorshek, at Canyon Bounty Farm just 10 minutes away in Nampa.
Photobucket
Beth offered me a job working at her farm for the greenhouse season. Beth sells a wonderful variety of vegetable, herb, and flower plant starts out of her greenhouses in the spring.  She also grows farm crops including whole wheat, (which is ground up and sold as flour) and seed crops including beans, edamamae soybeans, lettuce, peppers, onions, leeks, flowers, watermelons, musk melons and herbs. My job was to help pot up young plants from their furrow trays to the larger individual trays from which they were sold. I began to realize how many species of vegetables there were, that I had never known about before! I was surprise and excited to learn how many varieties of tomatoes exist, and how cute the names of all the species were.

I worked for several weeks with Bart Rayne, Carrie Jones, Jan Book, and Beth, to prepare the greenhouses and plants for the big opening day. When the greenhouses opened I even got to be a cashier and meet and greet with customers. It was my first year learning about gardening so I wasn’t the best at answering questions, but over this summer I’ve enjoyed watching my garden and the garden on campus grow, to see the fruits of our labor.

Beth has become a great friend and mentor to Kalee and I and through her we have made great connections with many other farmers and local business owners in the Treasure Valley who are committed to sustainability. I am ever grateful to Beth for allowing me to work with her and with the Earth. She even donated most of the plants that grow in our garden on campus! Thanks again, Beth. You’re the best!

Leave a comment »

The Energy Fair

Photobucket
Sara here, sustainability intern number two. I’ve gotta give major props to my amazing partner Kalee for starting up this blog. We are truly loving working in the garden, making our campus more sustainable, selling at the farmer’s market, and networking with local farmers. I am very passionate about sustainability and love that our campus & Bon Appetit place an emphasis on sustainable food, using ingredients from the garden and from local farmers. Food is our most fundamental connection to the Earth, so it’s important to know where our food comes from and how it is produced.

Another huge aspect of sustainability lies within energy: where it comes from and how we use it. The main reason our Earth is in the midst of an ecological crisis is because we don’t use energy efficiently. For thousands of years humans survived on the energy of the sun, a constant renewable source. However, people began using fossil fuels during the industrial revolution to maximize economic efficiency. The fossil fuel supplies then seemed limitless, and who would have predicted then that burning it could affect our planet’s climate? Today we power our society primarily with oil, coal, and natural gas. The combustion of these fossil fuels (ancient fossilized organisms, that absorbed energy from the sun millions of years ago) releases greenhouse gases which become trapped in our atmosphere, creating extremely high concentrations of carbon, thus creating climate change. At this point in time we’ve used half of the Earth’s supplies of oil. Do we really want to use up all the rest, when we can already see the effect it is having on the planet? Scientists say to avert catastrophic effects of global warming, we must reduce the level of carbon in the atmosphere to 350 parts per million. We are currently at 385 ppm and growing at a rate of 2 ppm per year. Yuck! And scary!

Thankfully there is always hope: hence my interest in renewable energy. Clean energy from the sun, wind, and from the Earth’s hot core will absolutely power the future, hopefully sooner than later.

Earlier this summer I called my uncle Scott Cramer in Minneapolis and he invited me to join him and his business at the 20th anniversary Energy Fair in Custer, Wisconsin. My uncle owns a business based in Minneapolis, MN that sells socially and environmentally progressive themed merchandise (T-shirts, bumper stickers, buttons, etc.) This is his website: Northern Sun

They travel around the country to many events, the energy fair being one of the biggest. I was so lucky to attend this event, because I was able to help my uncle set up and sell in the booth, but mostly I got to walk around the fair all weekend and visit hundreds of renewable energy & sustainable living exhibitors and workshops.

The event is put on by the MREA, the Midwest Renewable Energy Association. This year it was held June 19-21 and it featured 200 workshops, 270 exhibitors, 3 keynote speakers, inspiring music, and great sustainable food.
Photobucket

Since I came with my uncle’s business I had free entrance to the fair all weekend, and had additional exhibitor perks, like delicious breakfasts provided by Organic Valley. Friday morning I went on a tour of the Energy Fair which is located at the MREA headquarters, called the Renew the Earth Institute. The whole fair is powered with renewable energy, including two large solar-photovoltaic panels, and a huuuuuge wind turbine.
PhotobucketPhotobucket
I learned that as wind speed increases, the energy produced by a wind generator increases exponentially. Pretty good incentive to get one if you live anywhere windy!

Stay tuned for more info about the Energy Fair!

Comments (1) »