News from Michelle's Earth Foundation - December 2007
MEF Logo 742
Big thanks...
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.
December, 2007.

In this issue:
  • Going Local
  • Buying Local Toolkit
  • Volunteer Opportunities
  • Rain Barrels/Solar
  • Materials for Teachers
  • Five Farmers' Markets
  • Michelle's Essay on NPR
  • Coffee grounds for gardeners
  • Arlington Environment Calendar
Our web site,, features an expanded version of this newsletter and additional information and photos.
Going Local for Low-Carbon Footprintsalison-yasmine-kyla-celeste
What do the words 'going local' mean? They mean supporting your local community both socially and economically by eating what's grown or raised within 100 to 200 miles from where you live. According to a study by the New Economic Foundation in London, a dollar spent locally generates twice as much money for the local economy. Otherwise the 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 worked with great enthusiasm on a team to develop direct markets for the farmers in Burlington's organic urban farming area, the Intervale. It was heartening to learn recently that there was so much demand for local produce this summer that the area farmers were unable to meet the needs. What's even more amazing is that Burlington has a super market, the City Market, dedicated to locally produced and raised foods, and it's always busy!

Read the rest of this article here.

Michelle's "This I Believe" Broadcast on
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 essay, "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 Rubenstein School of the Environment at the University of Vermont.  It was Professor Danks' class assignment which resulted in Michelle's essay.  Professor Danks also read Michelle's essay at the Memorial Service at the University of Vermont.

Michelle's vision of creating a sustainable environment and fighting climate change was shaped by a childhood exploring the wonders in her backyard.  




As a college student, she traveled to Costa Rica , Brazil and South Africa, always on missions to understand the environment more fully.  "This I Believe" was informed by the joy of a child who loved exploring the miracle of life and the expanded awareness of a young adult who saw many parts of the world firsthand. 
- Gail Fendley.

Farmer's Markets for Buying Local Stephanie at the market
- Stephanie Lewis

Going "green" seems to be "in" nowadays-but even well-meaning people are not sure how they can contribute to this positive movement. It can be as easy as going local, or buying produce, meats, flowers, dried and canned goods, and other products that are locally grown or 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 activity imposes on our environment. Many of the produce items one might buy at the conventional grocery store can be found at local farmers' markets, and at a much reduced  cost to the environment. Not only will the foods have traveled a smaller distance, thereby minimizing the amount of oil and gas needed for transport, but much of the waste normally produced in the packaging and preservation of grocery store foods is not an issue.

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! Rather 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 that market-goers may actually enjoy more nutritious, healthful foods than do people 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.

Local Environmental Calendar
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.

Click here to read the rest of Rachele's MEF Guide online 
Free materials for rain barrels, solar heat collectors

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
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
Seeds, Seedlings and Grow-Out Stations Available for Teachers

Chestnut seedling 

MEF has some third-generation backcross American Chestnut tree seedlings, and seeds from Paw Paws (our largest native fruit), Chinese Chestnuts, and others.

Many elementary students in our are participated in the G
rowing 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

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:   
Michelle's Earth Foundation | Preston King Station | P.O. Box 5140 | Arlington | VA | 22205