News from Michelle's Earth Foundation - December 2007
We're especially grateful to all who contributed this Fall to our many community activities, green initiatives, fundraising projects, and memorials. Our friends in Arlington, Burlington, and elsewhere continue to do great things, and there are more planned for Winter. We're especially pleased to highlight our initiatives to explore and promote locally produced foods.
This email newletter provides an introduction to stories and ideas with links to greatly expanded information on our website and others. We're always interested in new ideas, and new volunteers for our established programs.
Michelle's Earth Foundation is especially grateful for the pro bono work of Kirkland & Ellis and, in particular Christian Chadd Taylor
Esq. and Alejandro Ruis Esq., in filing our corporate documents, helping with trademarks, and obtaining our charitable 501(c)3 status so quickly.
In this issue:
Buying Local Toolkit
Materials for Teachers
Five Farmers' Markets
Michelle's Essay on NPR
Coffee grounds for gardeners
Arlington Environment Calendar
Our web site, www.michellesearth.org, features an expanded version of this newsletter and additional information and photos.
Local for Low-Carbon Footprints What do the words 'going
local' mean? They mean supporting your local community both socially
economically by eating what's grown or raised within 100 to 200 miles
where you live. According to a study by the New Economic Foundation in
London, a dollar
locally generates twice as much money for the local economy. Otherwise
money leaves the community at every transaction.
Top: Alison and Yasmine in the garden. Bottom: Kyla and Celeste at the Farmer's Market.
When Michelle enrolled in
a Going Local class at U VM last September, she embraced the idea and
with great enthusiasm on a team to develop direct markets for the
urban farming area, the Intervale. It was heartening to learn recently
there was so much demand for local produce this summer that the area
were unable to meet the needs. What's even more amazing is that
Burlington has a
market, the City Market, dedicated to locally produced and raised
it's always busy!
Michelle's "This I Believe"
NPR's Weekend Edition
By now most of you have read Michelle's essay or you've seen the YouTube video of famous women reading it (below right).
The elegant and forceful
"This I Believe," aired on National Public Radio's Weekend Edition on
Sunday in August.
The essay was read by Cecilia Danks (right), Professor of
Environmental Studies at the
School of the
Vermont. It was Professor Danks' class assignment which
essay. Professor Danks also read
essay at the Memorial Service at the
Michelle's vision of creating a
and fighting climate change was shaped by a childhood exploring the
As a college student, she
always on missions to
understand the environment more fully. "This
I Believe" was informed by the joy of a child who
the miracle of life and the expanded awareness of a young adult who saw
parts of the world firsthand.
- Gail Fendley.
Farmer's Markets for Buying Local
- Stephanie Lewis
"green" seems to be "in" nowadays-but even well-meaning people
are not sure how they can contribute to
positive movement. It can be as easy as going local, or buying produce,
flowers, dried and canned goods, and other products that are locally
produced. One of the main principles of the green ideology is to think
globally, and act locally. Doing so
benefits the environment, the consumer, and the local economy.
Buying locally helps to lessen carbon footprints, or the
detrimental gas emissions (measured in carbon dioxide units) human
imposes on our environment. Many of the produce items one might buy at
conventional grocery store can be found at local farmers' markets, and
much reduced cost to the environment.
Not only will the foods have traveled a smaller distance, thereby
the amount of oil and gas needed for transport, but much of the waste
produced in the packaging and preservation of grocery store foods is
Buying locally at a farmers' market benefits
the consumer as
well: very little time passes between the picking and selling of the
produce-much of it is picked the same morning as the day of the market!
than being picked early and then maturing in the back of a truck, market produce is picked and sold in its
prime. This preserves its freshness, flavor and valuable nutrients so
market-goers may actually enjoy more nutritious, healthful foods than
who purchase similar items at a grocery store.
Stephanie's complete article features Arlington's five farmers' market. Read it on the MEF web page.
Please remember Michelle's Earth Foundation in your end-of-year charitable contributions.
Michelle's Earth Foundation Preston King Station P.O. Box 5140 Arlington, Virginia 22205
MEF Toolkit for Buying Local
Rachele Huennekens has assembled an excellent collection of wisdom and resources for
buying locally grown foods.
Promoting locally-grown food is one of the
fastest-growing environmental movements today. The
oft-cited statistic that the average vegetable travels 1,500
miles to get to a dinner table is simply the jumping-off point for a
larger debate about what and how we eat, and how it effects our planet.
Organizations like Slow Food USA, Sustainable Table, and Local Harvest have begun preaching a doctrine of
sustainable eating to increasingly larger audiences.
As a Michelle's Earth Foundation activist, we encourage you to get
involved in this movement. You can use this toolkit as a guide for what you can do, in your daily life, to make sure that you are eating locally.
Free materials for rain barrels, solar heat
MEF has empty barrels available for
MEF supporters who wish to make their own rain barrels or solar heating
systems. Directions are available for this easy conversion.
These barrels are black plastic, and blend into your garden better than the
bright-blue or off-white barrels more commonly available. Because
they are black, they would also function well in solar heating
projects. Delivery available. Contact Jim Egenrieder at JimE@vt.edu.
Activities and Lesson Plans for Teachers
We're looking for volunteers to
develop and/or assemble relevant
environmental science teaching activities and lesson plans. This
project is well underway and led by Jean
Folsum - contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Seeds, Seedlings and Grow-Out Stations Available for Teachers
has some third-generation backcross American Chestnut tree seedlings,
and seeds from Paw Paws (our largest native fruit), Chinese Chestnuts,
Many elementary students in our are participated in the Growing Native Seed Collection activities in October. Unfortunately, after the seed collection, the
involvement for students ends. Virginia Tech worked with the Potomac Conservancy and
others to demonstrate a remarkably cheap and easy way for teachers and
their students to sort, plant and grow the seeds inside or outside the
classroom. A teacher can plant upt to 30 trees in a
portable container that takes up less than 5 sq. ft. with protection
from both rodents, rabbits, and deer, all for less than $7. To arrange training for any group of teachers, naturalists, or others, contact Jim Egenrieder at JimE@vt.edu.
Coffee Grounds for Composting
The Java Shack is Arlington's first official Green Restaurant, and it has teamed with The Wood House Research Farm to provide MEF supporters with coffee grounds for nitrogen-rich compost, fertilizer, or vermiculture (culture of worms). Contact Jim for pickup or free delivery, up to five gallons at a time: JimE@vt.edu.