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Short Takes Summer 09 : River Valley edition : Tuesday, 25 February 2020 00:14 EST : a service of The Public Press
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Short Takes Summer 09

     by Stephen Morris

Letters to the editor and green bits: Rabbits, Know your farmer, Chiania cows, Puerto Rico, Natural Building

To the editor:

Did you get a rabbit as an Easter present? Rabbits are adorable critters with their long ears, wiggly noses, and fluffy tails. But a rabbit is not an easy pet to care for. Rabbits are safer, healthier, and happier when they are house rabbits—living inside and litter box trained.
You can learn about caring for your Easter rabbit from several rabbit-rescue organizations. You will learn, for example, that rabbits need exercise—space to run, leap, and dance. They need chew toys because their teeth continue to grow. Having them spayed or neutered is critical to help prevent certain cancers and aggressive behavior. Go to the following websites to learn more about living with a house rabbit:

House Rabbit Connection (western MA & CT) www.hopline.com
3 Bunnies (western MA & CT) www.3bunnies.org
House Rabbit Network (Boston area) www.RabbitNetwork.org
House Rabbit Society (national) www.rabbit.org

If you don’t have time to care for your rabbit, look for “finding a home for a rabbit” on the websites. Under NO circumstances should a domestic rabbit be let loose in the wild.  The rabbit will not survive. It will die of starvation, fright, or attack from dogs, feral cats, or other wild animals. Its death will be horrible.  

Bruce Fuller
(Bruce has been the Green Living Distributor in the Northampton, MA area for more than ten years.)


    I can't let John Davis' article go by without saying STOP,  go back!  Yes we should eat less meat. But the reasons are more complex. Animals have always been a part of sustainable farm life. They give energy, fertilizer, milk as well as meat and leather. Cows, goats and sheep are grazing animals who live perfectly happily on grass and even fairly subsistence land. It is only recently that cows have been confined to feedlots and fed masses of grains and thereby changed the confirmation of their rumens, and need masses of antibiotics to control the effects of close confinement. The same can be said for pork and chickens. You can go back even further and say that the beef industry has advertised beef to the detriment of lamb and pork and chicken, which are meats with much less fat.
    People are now realizing that they must seek out meat grown locally  in situations where the animals are grazed and have lots of access to fresh air and fresh feed, with minimum grain. Do not buy your meat at the supermarket! There are many opportunities in Vermont and New Hampshire to buy locally grown meat. Get to know the farmer and appreciate the work and care he/she takes to raise good sound animals without antibiotics and growth hormones. You will be glad you did, and help our local economy as well.    

Hope Thomas, Hillsboro, N.H.



I've been a regular reader of Green Living Journal for many years, and have made use of lots of information contained in various articles. A particular article which contained useful information was about making your own hand lotion. The recipe used two ingredients, glycerine and aloe vera gel, in specific proportions. I've lost the recipe, and was hoping it could be retrieved from one of your back issues. I saw it in an issue between the years 1992 and 2000. Is there a possibility you or a reader could help me with this? I'd really appreciate it!

Thank you,
Annie Figliola


Dear Stephen,

I've been an environmentalist all my life. I was raised on a farm in Williston, Vt. with Jersey cows & maple syrup. My paternal grandparents lived in half the house. We drank raw milk. Vegetables harvested from the garden were eaten fresh, canned, & frozen. Breakfasts. often included pancakes studded with frozen blueberries ordered from Agway.

Often I rode buses to & from Keuka College in northwestern N.Y. where I earned a B.A. in English literature. I didn't get a car until age 35 when USPS hired me to sort mail nights. Walking is my favorite mode of transportation. Now I live in St. Albans City. My Chrysler convertible remains in my one-car garage because I'm unemployed. Last summer I walked to & from a temporary job in St. Albans Town Industrial Park. I think many people are as addicted to motor vehicles as cigarettes.

Green Living should do an article about green grooming.  For several yrs. I have worn my hair short, because I spend less water shampooing it.  In the summer I like to allow the sun to reach my neck & ears.  Short hair is healthy.  My hair is thick & grows quickly.

Hair salons assault customers with loud music.  Stylists wear makeup & nail polish.  If they shampoo my hair, they don't massage my scalp vigorously.  Then they expect me to spill my guts.

Good stylists earn their money & tips!  They are licensed; they spend hours on their feet,; and risk arpal tunnel syndrome. But still, I wish I could have my hair cut in a green, quiet salon that values inner beauty & allows hair to grow naturally.  One that doesn't have women's magazines & People in the waiting area.


PS– Bald men are lucky because they don't need barbers.

I'm going to schedule an appointment at my local salon. It's within walking distance    

From Around the Green World ...

Nick Allen of West Burke, Vermont comes from a family that raises full-blooded Chiania cows and steers. This breed originated in the Chiania Valley in Tuscany and is known for their lean meat, low in calories and cholesterol. Nick also works in the kitchen of Lyndon State College and offers this recipe for Persian Tomatoes: “This dish is a thousand years old. Just chop up a few tomatoes, add cloves of fresh garlic, and four ounces of lemon juice. Warm in the microwave for two minutes for a very citrusy, garlicky flavor.”

Green Living serves a local community of “friends of the environment,” but we also link the “friends” from different locales.

Puerto Rico
We recently had the opportunity to catch up with Angel Lugo, the organic gardener from Puerto Rico, who was profiled in Green Living as “The Angel of Lajas.” Lajas is a small city in the southwest corner of the island. Not only has Angel’s garden doubled in size, but he reports that several farmer’s markets have started in the area. Moreover, he is now part of a collective of growers that is developing a hundred acre site in the foothills just outside of Ponce as an organic farm and orchard.

Puerto Rico abandoned its agricultural tradition in the rush to industrialize in the 1950s. Now the island suffers, in the extreme, from the same food security issues that affect most of America. With the estrangement from the food supply come all the related health issues. It’s encouraging to see some of those trends being reversed by the pioneers in organic.

Austin, Texas
Nick Moser and Sandor Stockfleth came to visit Green Living in their grease-powered, yellow “Chool” bus. (It’s illegal for a private vehicle to be identified as a “school bus.” Now, Nick writes from Austin:

Dear Stephen,

I want to tell you my newest venture , and what I will be involved in for many years.

We've completed lease negotiations on 100 acres outside Austin to create the pilot project for the Shire model of sustainable community.  The location is perfect...20 miles outside Austin, which has a huge community of green-minded people.  The property is called The Hundred Acre Wood and
the intention is to create an eco-educational research and event center with a model that can be easily reproduced.

We've got a great group of people mobilized and energized to help create the space, and have much momentum towards the zero-waste, positive production goal. In a few weeks we're putting on an Earth Day volunteer weekend in conjunction with the Green Apple Festival, a national volunteer event.

The Hundred Acre Wood is an event and eco-educational research center where green technologies and  sustainable ways of living can be showcased and taught to the public. We are located on mixed agriculture, pasture, and forest land. In this space we create and cater to many events: workshops, weddings, festivals, fairs, camping retreats, conferences, private parties, and any event that can benefit from open air and an ecological attitude.

Our intention is to create a space in the Acres to foster all forms of ecological education, permaculture practices, sustainable land-use, and green technologies. The eventual goal is zero waste and positive production of energy. We seek to partner with ecologically minded business and philanthropic community in order to make sustainability a reality. To facilitate this mission, our operations are part of The S.H.I.R.E. Institute, a 501c(3) Non-profit committed to sustainability research and education.  We are actively involved in the following areas: water, food production, shelter, transportation, energy and education.

More info: www.thehundredacrewoodevents.com

Nick Moser

Workshops: for Natural Builders
Workshop offerings are a bit limited this year because we’re shifting our focus closer to home – but also because we’ve got a very exciting project in the works: a YURT (of wood and mud, with living roof) that we’ll make (all by hand) with William Coperthwaite, author of A Hand Made Life. The schedule has Bill here in October for a special 10-day start-to-finish yurt-raising at Margaret Matthewson’s Ancient Arts Center near Alsea, Oregon. (http://www.ancientartscenter.com) More information at the end of this message. Meanwhile, there are a few oven and mud workshops on the schedule (please follow the weblinks for fee and other info):

6/28 (1/2 day), Earth, Ovens, Fire: cob for home & hearth
Wiseacres Farm, Pleasant Hill Oregon,

7/8-9, The Art of Cob (intro to all aspects)
North House Folk School, Grand Marais, MN

7/10-12, Earthen Ovens: Building & Baking
North House Folk School, Grand Marais, MN
August TBA, Art & Plasters (tentative)
The North American School of Natural Building, Coquille, OR
Build a hand-made basket yurt with William Coperthwaite

10/6-15 (10 days), Build a hand-made, rigid-walled basket-yurt with Wm. Coperthwaite at the Ancient Arts Center, Alsea, OR (http://www.ancientartscenter.com)

William Coperthwaite has spent decades learning and documenting traditional craft around the world in the interest of finding simpler, more peaceful ways to live. His signature design is the multi-level, rigid-walled yurt, an adaptation of the traditional Mongolian yurt, or ger. His home is one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever been in, and the only round building I’ve ever been in that really works. Bill has led hundreds of handcraft and yurt-raising workshops and is the author of A Hand Made Life; his work has been featured in Becky Kemery’s Yurts, as well as Homework, by Lloyd Kahn, among others. Photos are easy to find on the web if you search on “Coperthwaite.”

Margaret Matthewson is a crafter, basket-maker, willow-grower, and martial artist. She teaches widely, both in university and other settings, and runs the Ancient Arts Center as a forum for teaching and learning a wide variety of skills and practices.

In the workshop, we will practice hand-skills in carpentry, basket-making, and earthen plasters (wattle and daub) to make a two-tiered, rigid-walled yurt. The walls will be woven from willow withies grown and harvested on the property. Then we’ll plaster them with a combination of lightweight, insulative mud, finished with earthen and/or lime plasters. The roof will be a “living roof” planted with native plants and setums; depending on time and interest, we may build some ovens/stoves on the side). Please inquire directly for more information: 541-438-4300, or through ancientartscenter.com.
= = = = special treatment?


Cheesemakers gather in Vermontquiet zone

On Sunday, August 23rd, dozens of cheesemakers and other artisan food producers will gather in Shelburne, VT, for the first annual Vermont Cheesemakers Festival.  The one-day event, hosted by the Vermont Institute for Artisan Cheese, the Vermont Butter & Cheese Company, and the Vermont Cheese Council, will be held from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm at the Coach Barn at picturesque Shelburne Farms. 


The Festival is a spectacular opportunity for food-lovers to spend a day amidst Vermont’s bucolic landscape while sampling some of the most delicious foods available anywhere. Tickets to the Festival are available online at http://www.vtcheesefest.com/ for $20 each, and the event will be open to the first 1,000 people who register.


Festival visitors can sample over 100 types of cheese from 40 different cheesemakers, a variety of locally produced wines and beers, and several other artisan foods, including maple syrup, honey, chocolates, baked goods, and more. The Festival will also feature four tasting seminars, where visitors will learn how to pair cheeses with wine, beer, and other foods. 


The day prior to the festival, 20 cheesemakers from around the state will open their facilities to the public.


Sun, June 28, 10-5: 7^th Annual Strawberry Festival at Cedar Circle Farm & Education Center*, Pavillion Rd, off Route 5, East Thetford, VT. Family fun—celebrate Vermont strawberries and local organic agriculture! Kids’ crafts and games, horse-drawn wagon rides, strawberry picking, Gabriel Q puppetry, VINS raptor demo, live music under the tent, organic food concession- strawberry shortcake, cheesecake and smoothies, grilled local sausages and veggie burgers, salads, fresh veggie pizzas wood fired in NOFA-VT’s mobile oven and more! A “green event” with a waste recovery station. Rain or shine, admission free, parking $5, carpooling encouraged. Details at CedarCircleFarm.org <http://www.cedarcirclefarm.org/>, 802-785-4737.

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River Valley editor: Stephen Morris
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