Michelle's Earth Foundation
Newsletter - Summer 2017
Michelle's Earth Foundation, 801 S. 25th St., Arlington, VA 22202
Donations accepted via Paypal or by mail.
Dear Friend of MEF,

This summer's climate news, the June 1 announcement that the U.S. will pull out of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, may have seemed disheartening. But is it? Led by California, 13 U.S. states (and counting), along with Puerto Rico, have responded by joining a United States Climate Alliance committed to pursuit of the agreement's goals. And roughly 330 cities, 147 university presidents and professors, and nearly 900 companies have signed either the U.S. Climate Coalition, the U.S. Climate Mayors' commitment, or the "We Are Still In" campaign (qz.com zs 6/5/17). Adding to this, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has pledged to "provide up to $15 million in funding that he says the United Nations will lose [without U.S. federal support]" (wp 6/3/17); Al Gore's An Inconvenient Sequel has just opened in theatres; and Gore's new book, Our Choice, inspires individuals to take action. Let's keep the ball rolling! Who would have guessed what a tidal wave the announcement would unleash?
University of Vermont to Host Climate Summit

The UVM climate summit, Catalysts of the Climate Economy, will be held Sept. 6th - 8th in Burlington, VT. The summit will bring together entrepreneurs, investors and thought leaders working to accelerate economic development by addressing climate change.
National Climate Assessment

Scientists from 13 Federal Agencies have released a Congressionally mandated comprehensive final draft report, the National Climate Assessment. The report is issued every 4 years. Some of its conclusions: "Evidence for a changing climate abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depth of the oceans. Many lines of evidence demonstrate that human activities, especially emissions of green house gasses are primarily responsible....especially over the last six decades.."

Harry Bruinius and Amanda Paulson
CSM 8/28/17 p.8
Know Your Farmer
by Marty Smith

Marty Smith
A week ago at our Farmers' Market Todd Carr, one of the vendors, and I were taking advantage of a lull in business to catch up on family news. After a few minutes an older man came up and stood at some distance from the stall. Finally he brusquely asked Todd, "Are you open for business?" Todd told him he was, then the man looked at me and said, "You were standing there for a long time." Although I couldn't read his intentions with certainty, the impression I got was that one only went to the Market to buy things. Chatting with vendors was not allowed. Todd later related this story to some other friends, and they all had a laugh.

This incident got me thinking about why I want to know the farmers who from whom I procure my food. Perhaps the most obvious reason is that they provide me with some of the best-tasting food money can buy. But I also like making the connection with them as "real people" and not just as faceless "farmers." Who are they? Where do they live? What else goes on in their lives? These connections give me a sense that I can trust them, and I have found that they also develop a sense of trust in me as customer. Essentially all of them are people I enjoy knowing. Sometimes we don't seem to share that much in common, yet we learn about each other's lives and appreciate our similarities and differences.

It never occurs to me that any of these people are going to cheat or mislead me, or sell me tainted food. Yes, it's possible that something could go wrong with their products that they aren't aware of, but experience has told me that they are all so conscientious that this is not a realistic problem. When I get my frost-sweetened spinach in the winter, I don't bother to wash it; it's already been washed three times. The mushrooms I buy are so clean I just cut off the bottom tips and use them as they are. The honey I buy comes from hives that are miles from pesticide-laden corn and soybean fields. I know because I frequently ride the roads near their facility on my bike.

If I ever have a problem, I tell them, and, because they know me, they know I'm not just a trouble-maker, but rather that I want to give them needed feedback. A few years ago Bill Warren of Snug Haven Farm - the producer of the sweet spinach I get during the winter - was considering adding locally-grown and -milled rolled oats to his offerings. He asked me if I was interested, and, because oatmeal is a regular breakfast item for me, I said "Sure." The first year or two, however, didn't go so well. The miller, whom I also know and whose whole wheat flours I buy regularly, just couldn't get rid of enough hulls that the oatmeal wasn't a chore to eat. Bill depended on my (negative) feedback to decide finally to look for another miller. The result was
spectacularly nutty oats that had virtually no hulls. When I happen to be at Bill's stand and someone is considering buying his spinach or oats, I often give him free advertising.

Do you worry about food safety? Or that you're being misled about what's in your food or where it comes from? My advice is simple: get to know a farmer, or ten. In addition to getting great food, you'll probably end up with some great friends.
Mandy and Travis's Memory

Mandy Fischer and Travis Marcotte
Michelle was part of a group of student interns from the Going Local class helping us put together a literature review for a grant that would eventually get funded and spark the creation of our social enterprise, the Intervale Food Hub. Michelle was engaged, asked questions, and was clearly excited by the work. Out of the group of students, she was the one whose name I remembered after our first meeting. She was a communicative and diligent student. Unfortunately, we didn't get to know her beyond a few meetings.
We think of her often, and we are grateful for the contribution she made to this place that we love, and that we know she loved, too. It's humbling and a pleasure to keep her memory alive. Thank you for sharing her with us!
Factoid #1

Question: What new use is being made of coffee ground waste?

Answer:  In London clean technology company Bio-bean has partnered with multiple coffee companies to turn coffee waste into biofuel, which has heated 15,000 London homes and will soon be fueling buses.  

Christian Science Monitor 7/24/17 p16. 
Thesis Abstract:  Establishing a Vermont-grown Hop Supply Chain: Challenges and Opportunities
by Margot Van Horne

Local food systems can provide communities with various social, economic, and environmental benefits.  While local food products can lack some of the advantages of their globally produced competitors, many consumers see locality as a solution to the problems inherent in global food systems, and will pay a premium for local products.  The opportunities and challenges of localization have far-reaching implications for the global beer industry, as beer is one of the most popular beverages in the world.  Many brewers in the United States currently have difficulty obtaining locally produced ingredients for their beer, such as hops and malted barley.  This study seeks to identify Vermont Brewers Association (VBA) brewers' current reasons for using or not using Vermont-grown hops, using quantitative and qualitative data from personal interviews with 17 VBA brewers.

All participating brewers expressed interest in using Vermont hops, but most do not use them regularly due to issues of scale, post-harvest processing, varieties available, price, quality, and aversion to change and risk.  Overcoming these obstacles could provide new opportunities for marketing, economic benefits, reduced shipping, fresher hop products, and increased connectivity between brewers and growers.  While growers and researchers may benefit from focusing on these areas, deliberate marketing is also needed to combat brewers' negative perceptions of Vermont hops.  Additionally, more research is needed to explore consumer demand, issues of contracting, and environmental implications of establishing a Vermont hop supply chain, particularly in light of low brewer demand for organic hops.

A link to the complete thesis is available here.
Catherine Leigh wins MEF's H-B Environmental Award

Catherine Leigh, H-B awardee (middle) with Heather Spence, Elizabeth Lang, Meghan French, and Diane Gardner-Quinn

This year's recipient, Catherine Leigh, has, with others, resurrected the H-B Environmental Club, read articles on all aspects of biology and climate change for fun and has a passion for the natural world that takes her hiking, traveling and wondering how we can make this a better planet.
Factoid #2

Question: In 2016 how many backyard beekeepers with 5 or fewer colonies were found in the U.S.?

Answer:  24,000
The Buzz on the Health of  Bees. p.17
CSM Wkly, Junen12, 2017
Diane with Michelle's UVM scholarship awardees from left to right: Gina Fiorile, Ali Myers, Alix Wood, Margot Van Horne and Dorothy Kinney
Tommy's Memory

The question of memory is an interesting one because our memories are of course malleable in the sense that they may change over time, in many different ways and for many different reasons. I have so many memories of Michelle and the time we spent together, but, as with any best friends, many of them are only shared between me and her - things that only we would find funny or noteworthy or absolutely fundamental in their level of importance.  And while I still have my memories stored in my head and in my heart, what I would really love is to hear the ones that she remembers, the ones that shewould have held on to, in order to help fill in the blanks that have been created through the passage of time, or the need to think about something else. It's hard to feel like you have a puzzle with only half the pieces, even if the pieces you have are some of your favorites...

When we were in high school at HB Woodlawn we used to go to Rehoboth Beach in Delaware as part of a Spring Break trip with Steve Garman's TA.  We would rent a big beach house and everyone would stay for a weekend - mostly students (30 or so, maybe more) with only 3 or 4 adults (thank you, HB) - and we would have pretty much free reign of the town and the beach and the boardwalk and it was NUTS.  On the boardwalk there was an Amusement Park with ski ball and Midway games and a few small rides, but the real draw was a huge Haunted House that would take groups of 2-4 people at a time on a ride through the house in cars that ran on a track spaced a minute or two apart from each other.  It featured mostly typical cheesy haunted house pop-out type stuff and black lights, but there was one section of the track that emerged from the Haunted House on the second story which overlooked the whole Amusement Park and everyone in it for just a couple seconds and then went back inside. I have no idea how many times Michelle and I rode this thing over the years (15 maybe?) but Every Single Time, when the doors burst open and the car emerged onto that balcony, we would spazz out and scream, "NOOOO ITS SO SCARY, SAVE YOURSELVES, DON'T GO IN THERE, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!" so loud the whole park could hear, and everyone would turn and look, and then BAM! The doors would shut and the car would be back in the Haunted House and we would laugh and laugh so hard at what kooks we had just been!! Every. Single. Time. And it never got old.

Every day with Michelle was like that. Every day spent with her was a Win, and every moment had the potential for anything. She meant more to me than words can say, and I had never considered a world without her until it suddenly became a reality - which is I guess the best summation of my memories of our time together taken as a whole. She was that important - that fundamental - and I still can't truly place her into the realm of a memory. The only other relationship I've experienced that's even comparable (besides my beautiful wife Allison) is with my 17 month old daughter Lakely, who knows not, and cares not, for the troubles of the world. And just like the one Michelle had growing up, I aim to plant a patch of bamboo with a little clearing in the middle just for her, so she can make her own memories and picnic amongst the leaves.  I know Michelle will like that, because I still carry her with me every day, as I know many of  us do - so she won't miss a minute.
Special thanks to Matthew Chenevert for this image of the Solar Eclipse 8/21/2017

Many thanks to all of you who shared memories of life with Michelle. Anyone still wishing to contribute may do so at any time.