For the most recent Catamount E-newsletter  click here.

 For the past four years, Catamount Earth Institute has partnered with Upper Valley civic groups to offer Northwest Earth Institute discussion series. Catamount Earth Institute is one of about 30 partners of the Northwest Earth Institute (NWEI) of Portland Oregon.

The Northwest Earth Institute created a new six-session discussion course in the  spring of 2014, Seeing Systems: Peace, Justice and Sustainability. As Martin Luther King has said:  “Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly .…We aren’t going to have peace on Earth until we recognize this basic fact of the interrelated structure of all reality.”  This course is a great way to clarify the interrelations of peace, justice, and environmental sustainability.

The Norwest Earth Institute has a two-session series about energy called Powering a Bright Future. Catamount focused on this series in the winter and spring of 2014 in the Upper Valley. Powering a Bright Future is linked with NWEI’s Global Warming course and together they’re called Change by Degrees: Addressing the Climate Challenge. Click here for more information and here for a sample of the Powering a Bright Future booklet.

The Northwest Earth Institute also has a new series called Hungry for Change. The series explores the interconnections of our food systems and our relationship to and responsibility in these systems. This course challenges us to look at our roles not only as consumer of food, but also as creators of food, of systems, and of the world we live in.

 In the spring of 2013 Catamount piloted an Upper Valley version of the NWEI’s EcoChallenge in which participants challenge themselves to reduce their waste, energy, use more public transportation, eat a more healthy diet, and other healthy lifestyles. Participants blogged about the successes and challenges and appreciated the feedback and support of other participants. See EcoChallenge for more information.  

Click here for more information about all of the NWEI programs. Catamount Earth Institute is grateful to the Dorothy and Jack Byrne Foundation for its support to make NWEI books available at a discount and on loan.

 Healthy People, Healthy Planet

In the winter of 2012, we focused on the NWEI discussion guide A World of Health for a program which we called is a six-session reading and discussion series that

Discussion Guideexplores “good health,” the connection between human health and the environment, and how we can sustain both. The discussion topics include: precautionary medicine; eating well; household toxins, and healthy natural systems. Throughout the discussion guide there are individual actions that promote good health and in turn, promote a healthier environment.

explores “good health,” the connection between human health and the environment, and how we can sustain both. The discussion topics include: precautionary medicine; eating well; household toxins, and healthy natural systems. Throughout the discussion guide there are individual actions that promote good health and in turn, promote a healthier environment.

Healthy People, Healthy Planet is for groups of 8-12 people, meets weekly for 1 ½ hours, and is based on a discussion guide and anthology – A World of Health – by the Northwest Earth Institute. The discussion is largely self-facilitated with start-up assistance from experienced volunteers. The guidebook is the only cost for the program. Books are available for loan from Catamount. The Co-op Food Stores, the Upper Valley Food Co-op, and the Howe Library in Hanover have books to loan. There are sets of 10 books for library groups available on a first come, first serve basis. Group members should read Session I (10 pages) and the introductory pages before the first discussion. For more information, see a sample of the first 13 pages of the discussion guide at course sampler.

Catamount is grateful to the Jack and Dorothy Byrne Foundation, the Mascoma Saving Bank Foundation, the Upper Valley Sierra Club, the Stettenheim Foundation, the Frank and Brinna Sands Foundation, and King Arthur Flour for subsidizing the discussion guides and providing set of books for loan by participating libraries. Thanks also to the Co-op Food Stores, the Upper Valley Food Co-op and Health Connections of the Upper Valley for purchasing sets of books to share with discussion groups.

Catamount’s Healthy People, Healthy Planet partners include: Co-op Food Stores, League of Women Voters of the Upper Valley, Sierra Club, Sustainable Hanover, Upper Valley Household Hazardous Waste Committee, Upper Valley Localvores, and the Upper Valley Land Trust.

Celebrating our Healthy People, Healthy People discussions

On April 17, members of seven Healthy People, Healthy Planet groups celebrated friendships, concerns and ideas around environmental and human health. Common concerns are fighting for GMO labeling in VT, reducing and cleaning up plastics, composting, and restoring the riparian zone damaged by Hurricane Irene.

Here are notes from the potluck with concerns, information and follow up actions.

  1. Help clean up Vermont’s rivers, especially of plastic.
  2. There will be a tree planting and workday at Clifford Park in Hartford on April 28 starting at 9 a.m.  More info: Town of Hartford.
  3. There’s a Sunday, April 22 showing of Green Fire at the Hartland Library at 3:30. The showing is by The State of the World films. There’s a collection of about 50 films at the Hartland library which are available for inter-library loan. See http://sites.google.com/site/sotwfilmarchives/home
  4. There was a request for an instruction session on composting with worms, especially on a small scale for people who can’t have compost bins.
  5.  Vermont has compost pickup in Chittenden and Washington County. See www.guvswd.org/ for composting info.
  6. Prescription drug take back: There’s a national drug take back day on April 28 from 10-2 pm. DIAL 2-1-1 to locate collection sites near you. Rite  Aid in W. Lebanon takes back prescription drugs. Many police stations will take back prescription drugs.
  7. Give the Northwest Earth Institute (NWEI) feedback that the discussion guide needs more articles with a rural focus.
  8. There’s a “Road Map to Environmental Literacy in Vermont.” See http://www.environmentalliteracyvt.org/assets/files/roadmap_road%20to%20action.pdf The website includes individual, community, and school action steps.
  9. There was a lot of energy to combat Monsanto. See a 4/20 news post at http://www.infowars.com/monsanto-threatens-vermont-legislature-over-gmo-labeling-bill-says-it-will-sue-state/ See www.SumOfUs.org to petition the FDA to deny approval for Dow Chemical’s 2,4-D resistant GE corn.
  10. I received an email from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) from a Thetford/Fairlee’s group member. Next week, the Senate Agriculture Committee will start writing its version of the 2012 farm bill. The  EWG concerns are to abolish subsidies to Big Ag and support farm bill that supports local, healthy and organic food. See http://act.credoaction.com/campaign/farm_bill_ewg/ to contact your Senators.
  11. Here’s the website for Food and Water Watch: http://action.foodandwaterwatch.org/t/5915/signUp.jsp?key=1053.  I didn’t find a NH office.
  12. Information about buckthorn: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/terrestrialplants/woody/buckthorn/index.html

Positive Reading:

  1. Nourishing Words: a Concord, NH blog of a NWEI discussion group doing a new discussion topic/course: “Hungry for Change.” http://nourishingwords.net/
  2. Pat McGovern’s UV Localvore blog: http://uvlocalvores.wordpress.com/ recipes and Upper Valley food info.
  3. NWEI blog: blog.nwei.org/about-us/
  4. Ode Magazine: https://secure.palmcoastd.com/pcd/eSv?iMagId=28401&i4Ky=ISB1
  5. http://www.yesmagazine.org/

Menu for the Future 

In 2011 Catamount collaborated to offer two dozen Menu for the Future discussion groups. Menu for the Future is a six-session discussion series about sustainable food systems. Groups of 8-12 people meet weekly for 1-1 1/2 hours to discuss readings from an anthology compiled of excerpts from some of the best writers on sustainable food systems. 

The Menu for the Future readings:

  • explore food systems and their impacts of culture, society, and ecological systems
  • offer insights into agricultural practices that promote personal and ecological well-being
  • initiate conversations about our roles in creating or supporting sustainable food systems

Celebrating Menu for the Future

Thirteen of the 23 Menu for the Future groups were represented at a festive April 6 potluck and program by gardener Henry Homeyer.

Great food and conversation

Kilton Library Discussion Group

Menu for the Future News

Many of the discussion groups have continued to meet with potluck suppers and other events. There have been two farm tours – one at Cedar Circle Farm and one at Hogwash Farm – in opposite corners of East Thetford.

Here are some happy Hogwash piglets.

With the discussion groups wrapping up, the focus has switched to action steps. Here are some categories for being involved with links for making connections:

Learning about Cooking

Cooking: Co-op Food Stores
Baking Classes: King Arthur Flour
Recipes from local food blogs: Upper Valley Localvore blog, Lisa Cadow’s “A Fork on the Road” blog, Carol Egbert’s blog
Canning & Freezing, Gardening: Co-op, Upper Valley Food Co-op, Cedar Circle Farm, Pompanoosuc Agriculture Society
Henry Homeyer’s newest book: Organic Gardening Not Just in the Northeast: A Hands-On Month by Month Guide- pre-order at the Norwich Bookstore (802) 649-1114
NOFA-VT and NOFA-NH Gardener Workshops
Vermont Extension Service and New Hampshire Extension Service

Helping Others:
Willing Hands
Farm to School
Vital Communities

Upper Valley Agricultural Information Sources

UV Localvores
Upper Valley Local Agriculture Discussion list serve
Cedar Circle’s Education and Outreach link includes details on their Farm To School programs, Community Garden Programs, Educational Farm Tours, and their efforts to participate in and connect regional efforts to improve our food system
Cedar Circle’s events and classes link includes gardening, tool sharpening, and backyard composting classes that they are offering at the farm in 2011. They will also offer cooking and food preservation classes in the fall
Cedar Circle’s events link takes you to a listing of our upcoming Festivals, Tastings, and Meals In The Field for which they are looking for volunteers to help staff

Community Gardens:

Canillas Community Garden Lebanon, NH 
[email protected]
The Community Garden at Enfield Shaker Museum Enfield, NH 
Hanover Community Gardens Hanover, NH 
Hartland Community Garden Hartland Four Corners, VT 
Pompanoosuc Agricultural Society Thetford Center, VT 
Royalton Roots Royalton, VT 
Sustainable Hanover Food/Agriculture Action Group Hanover, NH 
Sustainable Woodstock Woodstock, VT 
Taftsville Community Garden Taftsville, VT
Thetford Community Garden Thetford Center, VT
Transition Town White River Junction White River Junction, VT 
Upper Valley Farm to School Network Hartland, VT 
Upper Valley Localvores Lebanon, NH 
White River Jct Community Garden White River Junction, VT