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

Everyday should be Earth Day. So let us be good stewards both individually and collectively to  the planet that nurtures us and is our home.
As we look forward to springtime and the growing season, let us remember to contribute to our local food banks for those less fortunate among us.
Who's Your Farmer?
by Martin Smith

Martin Smith
A recent article in The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) stated that Wal-Mart intends to keep lowering the cost of groceries it sells. This, it said, would be good for consumers and bad for other grocers. But the first question that came to my mind was, "Never mind the other grocers; how is this going to affect farmers?" You see, I have a bumper sticker on the back of my aging Honda Civic that asks the question, "Who's your farmer?" Do you know who your farmers are? Do you know their names? Where their farms are located? What their farming practices are like? What sort of people they are?
I ask these questions because I do know many of those answers. But I'm lucky, because I live in Madison, WI. We have the largest producer-only Farmers' Market in the country (which goes year-round, by the way), the result of which is that I see my farmers on a weekly basis and have gotten to know many of them personally. Some have become close friends, and I have biked to a few of their farms. Not everyone is so lucky. When I visit my sister in the city where I grew up in northwest Ohio, or my brother in rural Tidewater Virginia, access to local food is almost non-existent.
Farmer's Market in Madison, WI
Wholesome, sustainable food is not cheap. It cannot be grown cheaply, and farmers deserve fair compensation for their costs and labor. They either must be able to make a living wage or end up literally selling the farm. Even many of the farmers I know have (or other family members have) second jobs - to pay bills and provide health insurance. My food is a lot more expensive than if I bought it at a large local grocery giant. I accept that. But every penny I spend at the "Market," as I call it, each Saturday goes entirely to my farmer friends. There are no middlemen, no distributors, no investors to please, no corporate profits. There are also no worries about food safety, labor abuses, animal mistreatment, or environmental degradation.
There is only one way to save the family farm. Get to know a farmer. Then get to know other farmers. Encourage your friends to do the same. Organize and support a local farmers' market. Do your grocery shopping there. Give your money to the people who actually grow your food. This system has worked well in Madison for the past 45 years and is gaining strength. Who knows where it will lead?
Factoid #1

Question: The die-off of bees, known as Colony Collapse Disorder has been linked to the use of what group of pesticides?

Answer: Neonicotinoids
(Source: Sierra Club)
Fracking Moratorium

Dusty Horwitt
Every day is Earth Day for Dusty Horwitt. But, Tuesday April 4 was a particularly good day for Dusty and the Earth. It was the day that Maryland Governor Larry Hogan signed a bill to ban hydraulic fracturing drilling know as fracking in Maryland.
We partnered with Dusty as his organization, Partnership for Policy Integrity, organized a campaign for safe drinking water in the DC area and, in particular, Maryland. This group uses science, legal action and communications to promote sound energy policy. Michelle's Earth endorsed letters to four major DC area drinking water providers highlighting the risks to water quality for millions of downstream residents.
Dusty is a long-time friend and partner of Michelle's Earth Foundation. You might remember Dusty as the person who introduced Chef Nathan Lyon when Nathan returned to H.B. Woodlawn to prepare a dinner in honor of Michelle in 2008.
Dusty's a veteran environmentalist, attorney and journalist. He takes his passion to work every day at the Partnership for Policy Integrity. Especially Earth Day!
Factoid #2

Question: A new device that can pull water vapor out of air with a humidity as low as 20% using only sun power has what kind of framework? A single tissue box-sized device can harvest 3 quarts of water/day at low humidity.

Answer: MOF, metal organic framework which acts like a sponge
(Source: Journal of Science 4/13/17)
Dr. Culhane Continues Work in Biogas

T.H. Culhane with Bill Clinton
MEF board member Dr. Thomas Henry (T.H.) Rassam Culhane is a force of nature. After Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti on October 4, 2016, Culhane was there within three weeks. Culhane took time off from his classroom duties as a professor who teaches Environmental Sustainability and Justice and Sustainable Tourism at the Patel College of Global Sustainability in Tampa, Florida. He spent three days working with the US HEART of Haiti team installing biodigesters.

Biodigesters turn human and food waste into biogas, which can be used to heat water, cook food, or produce electricity. In Haiti, waste like food scraps, leaves and grass clippings are put into a biodigester which turns it into liquid plant fertilizer which helps grow more food and clean cooking fuel.

As a National Geographic Emerging Explorer since 2009 Culhane introduced his own designs for low cost biodigesters to community leaders in  Brazil and many Latin American, Middle Eastern and African countries. His research involves closing the loop between food waste and food production, creating local resilient systems for poverty alleviation and wildlife preservation.
At the 2016 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), Culhane's organization, Solar C3ITIES, committed to installing two biogas hubs and educating 50 new biogas technicians and closed-loop farmers in Jordan's Zaatari refugee camp over the next three years.
Margot Van-Horne, UVM Senior and MGQ Scholar
Margot Van Horne
Margot is an Environmental and Global Studies major in the Environmental Program where Michelle studied in 2006. Today Michelle's memorial fund helps five students in that program. Margot moved from Atlanta to Burlington and found a meaningful and enriching course of study where she now majors in Food, Land, and Community, and a facility that both inspired and challenged her. In summers she worked at a local farm and at an environmental non-profit, while conducting original research for her undergraduate thesis. Her paper will be entitled, "Establishing a Vermont-grown Hop Supply Chain: Challenges and Opportunities."
Margo's goal is to learn how to make our planet a better place and to have other priceless experiences along the way.

We look forward to presenting the abstract of Margo's senior paper in our next newsletter.
Factoid #3

Question: What Pennsylvania coal-fired power plant was proven to affect N.J. pregnancies causing greater risk of low or very low birthrates?

Answer: Portland Generating Station in Northampton County, PA
(Source: WP 4/6/17)
Julia's Memory

Julia and Hannah 
I think about Michelle all the time. She is still such a big part of my life and I still feel very connected to her spirit. She is a soul sister to me and so much of my life has been inspired by her. I never had and I don't know if I ever will have a friend that I can look up to and learn from as much as I did from Michelle .

We had a "bike gang" but we all just had beat up bikes but we loved feeling really cool and we named all our bikes and we'd ride all over Burlington and down along the lake. I just remember feeling so happy and us all laughing so much. That feeling where there's nowhere else we'd want to be.
just know that Michelle will always be in my thoughts. Whenever I'm out in the woods teaching he children or doing therapeutic work with the teens I know that so much of what gives me the strength to do this is her. 
Listen to the Land
by Christine Borgia

Chastity Davis
I had the tremendous privilege this week to listen to an emotional and inspirational talk by Chastity Davis, a member of the Tla'amin Nation, located on British Columbia's Sunshine Coast. While Chastity's talk was focused on resiliency and advocacy, she also spoke about the importance of sustainability in her culture. Before Europeans arrived, First Nations lived a completely sustainable life. They listened to the land. They fished enough but not too much, killed just enough animals for food and clothing, grew food and maintained the land to support future growth. Indigenous people are connected to the land in a way few of us understand. Chastity told a story of going to her Elders with a problem, and they told her to listen to the land and find her answers. This is how she lives. The land provides, teaches, and speaks.

( source)
In the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, it's easy to overlook nature. But each year with the gift of Spring, we are afforded an opportunity to listen to the land. As flowers blossom, seeds sprout, leaves appear on trees and birds' nests appear in unlikely places, stop for a minute. Stop and listen. The Earth is speaking to us, and it has answers to our questions.
A special thanks to those who gave generously during our winter fund raiser. Michelle's spirit lives on through the many activities of MEF and the UVM scholarship fund.