Every year North Quabbin Energy gathers together presenters on various topics related to Renewable Energy and Local Living. This year the festival will take place on Sept. 24th & 25th at Forster’s Farm, Chestnut Hill Rd, Orange MA. Here is the line-up for 2016 (or click here for a one-page printable PDF):
SATURDAY, Sept 24th
- 11:45 – Preparing & Using the Chaga Mushroom (Brandon Curtin, Fungi Ally) – Read moreChaga is a medicinal mushroom which grows on birch trees. It has been studied for centuries in Russia and promotes a healthy immune system and skin health. Come learn how to find this mushroom, prepare it as a tea or use the tincture. 20-minute mini-demo in the main Portal tent.
- 12:00 – Beekeeping – Sharing your property with Pollinators (Angela Roell, Yard Birds Farm) Read moreAre you fascinated by honeybees and interested in learning more about these social insects? Do you want to know more about what beekeeping entails and how you can support the most important pollinators in our ecosystem? This practical workshop will help you understand and support honeybees in our bioregion. The program will include information about hive anatomy. We will discuss the social structure of the bee hive, important roles workers play throughout their lives and the role of pollen, propolis, wax and honey within the hive. Live hive demonstration with observation hive, if weather permits. 40-minute presentation in the Energy Tent. Angela Roell is a founding member of Yard Birds Farm, a 21-acre perennial farm and pollinator sanctuary in Western Massachusetts. Angela is an avid beekeeper and educator. She holds a Masters Degree in Education and serves as the Secretary of the Franklin County Beekeeping Association. She leads a comprehensive Bee School at her farm in Montague and hosts community workshops and enrichment programs. She teaches food preservation techniques at Greenfield Community College.
- 12:15 – Upcycling Your Unrecyclable Plastic Bags (Lou Leelyn, Lou’s Upcycles) Read moreLou Leelyn will present a walk through of the hows, wheres, and whys of plastic bag recycling and upcycling. She’ll show you which bags are recyclable, where to recycle them in western MA, and which can be upcycled through the process of fusing. Using a household iron, learn how to turn your unrecyclable plastic bags into a fully functional fabric. 20-minute mini-demo in the main Portal tent.
- 12:45 – Soil Test Basics for Organic Gardening (Travis Knechtel) Read moreWondering where to start with soil testing? Travis Knechtel, a certified arborist and land care professional with a focus on organic landscaping and gardening, will demonstrate how to do a simple PH test, as well as showing various soil samples and talking about how to interpret what they mean. 20-minute mini-demo in the main Portal tent.
- 1:00 – Tiny Houses – Fair and 190 Square (feet!) (Sarah Hastings, rhizhome.com) Read moreTiny homes should be an accessible and logical housing solution for young adults, senior citizens, or anyone who wants to live a light lifestyle. Plenty of design guides and inspirational images already exist for tiny house dreamers out there, but there are still many other planning considerations to account for. Learn about the side of the Tiny House Movement that HGTV does not cover: the legalities! Join Sarah for a talk about the big advantages in tiny housing. She will guide you through some lesser known steps that will aid in attaining a fair place for a tiny home, whether it might be on farmland, in a backyard, or on an abandoned lot. 40-minute presentation in the Energy Tent. Sarah Hastings is the co-coordinator of the Legalize Tiny project at Harvard’s Millennial Housing Lab. She designed and built her own tiny home in college and has experienced the trials and triumphs that come with any pioneering movement. Her experience with tiny home advocacy has given her credential to work with planners and officials from a variety of towns and cities that want to create diversified housing opportunity.
- 1:15 – Adding an Electric Drive to your Bike (Peter Talmage) Read morePutting electric drive on your bike isn’t rocket science. An electric drive system consists of a motor, a motor controller, a battery and a battery charger. Some systems are ready to install straight out of the box and can be ready to ride in under a half hour. Any bike with electric assist is a blast to use and most folks find themselves riding much more. 20-minute mini-demo in the main Portal tent.
- 1:45 – Dehydrating your Garden Bounty (Aimee Hanson) Read moreDehydrating is a fabulous way to capture the flavors and nutritional value of fresh fruits and vegetables! Join Aimee Hanson, an urban homesteader who grows organic fruits and veggies for her family and friends on her one-acre lot in Athol, for a demonstration of the readily-available equipment and simple techniques that can let you add this easy skill to your preservation repertoire. 20-minute mini-demo in the main Portal tent.
- 2:00 – Renewables Are Ready (Pat Hynes, Traprock Center for Peace & Justice) Read moreThis will be a deeply informing and compelling slide presentation developed in response to the defining issue of our times – climate change. Our goals are to inform about the advances in renewable energy technologies and their potential, together with efficiency, to power our country by 2050 and to identify the political obstacles in getting there. We finish with inspiring examples of action and activism that serve as a springboard for brainstorming about individual and community actions to make renewables our energy future. Solar and wind keep the peace. 40-minute presentation in the Energy Tent. Pat Hynes is a former environmental engineer and Professor of Environmental Health. In 1980, she designed one of the first passive solar houses in western Massachusetts; dozens of houses were built based on her design. She directs the Traprock Center for Peace and Justice (http://traprock.org). The Renewables Are Ready presentation was developed collaboratively with Nuclear-and Carbon-Free Future and the American Friends Service Committee of western Massachusetts.
- 2:15 – Hidden Talents of Household Tapes (Mike Dabrowski) Read moreLearn some surprising uses for easily-available black electrical tape and aluminum duct tape, from covering paint cans to making patterns and templates for DIY projects. Mike Dabrowski, tinkerer extraordinaire, will share some of his tips and secrets for quick fixes around the home, shop, and yard. He’ll even include some “official” uses like wrapping electrical wires! 20-minute mini-demo in the main Portal tent.
- 2:45 – Natural Prevention for the Common Cold (Sarah Shields) Read moreYes, you should get plenty of rest and eat your vegetables! But there’s more you can to do safely and effectively prevent colds as well. Sarah Shields of Birch Moon Farm and Herbals in Shutesbury will discuss basic remedies you can make at home, and you’ll go home with some recipes to try out. 20-minute mini-demo in the main Portal tent.
- 3:00 – Solar PV: No up front cost and you own it! (Claire Chang, Solar Store of Greenfield & Bob Michaud, Orange Energy Committee) Read moreClaire will go over the basics for considering whether a solar photo-voltaic (PV) system works best on your house roof or pole mounted nearby, as well as the process for interconnection to the grid. If your house or property has sun from 9-3pm everyday, you can take advantage of the MA Clean Energy Center Solar Loan Program with no money down to finance your solar PV project. She’ll also go over the loan timeline and the financial incentives for no up-front cost solar. Everyone with a sunny roof or yard can participate in the renewable energy revolution! Bob Michaud will explain the process and the reasons behind he and his wife Diane’s decision to invest in a home solar PV system. Using photographs, he’ll show the problems with their site that had always held them back from investing, and how it turned out that those were not very big problems after all. Using a simplified break-even analysis, Bob will show how the current prices and incentives as well as their particular situation combined to make their decision an easy one. They went solar and they’re very glad they did! 40-minute presentation in the Energy Tent. Claire Chang and John Ward have been co-owners of the Solar Store of Greenfield since 2008. They are a brick and mortar store providing a local global prospective on how to reduce our carbon footprint on the planet. Turnkey contracts for Solar PV and Hot Water systems, including energy efficiency measures, are just some of what they offer. Additionally, they are involved in town governance, anti nuclear activities, and state legislative initiatives through MassSolar to promote good solar policy. Bob Michaud was an environmental engineer in his 20s. He and his wife moved to Orange in 1979 to become farmers, where for 21 years they and owned and operated Maple Valley Farm in North Orange. Later in life, Bob was a high school Math teacher. Now retired (sort of), Bob and Diane volunteer with the Orange ad hoc Energy Committee and grow and sell seedlings from their greenhouse.
- 3:15 – Using Local Resources for Glazing and Firing Pottery (Lydia Grey) Read moreLydia Grey will talk about building a kiln using wood, a locally available renewable resource, for fuel, and using natural materials, such as ashes and local clays, for glazing. The kiln will be a community kiln and a teaching kiln, so that the skills of working with clay can be passed on to future generations. 20-minute mini-demo in the main Portal tent.
SUNDAY, Sept. 25th
- 11:45 – Urine Diverting Privies and UD Composting Toilet Systems (Catherine Bryars) Read moreStaying well hydrated has never been this interesting! Pee-cycling and urine-diverting (UD) technology has come a long way since the chamber pot. Learn why and how area farms and communities are benefitting from UD with this presentation a local practitioner, regional planner, and saver. 20-minute mini-demo in the main Portal tent.
- 12:00 – For the Love of Heirloom Cucurbits (Daniel Botkin, Laughing Dog Farm) Read moreDaniel will show off a colorful selection of locally-grown cucurbits and share his passion for collecting, cultivating, saving seed from (and cooking!) “heritage” variety hard squashes from around the world. Dan will share alternative propagation tactics for raising these long-season vine crops in our now more variable New England “climate”. Cooked samples will be available for tasting as well as heirloom seeds for next year’s gardens. 40-minute presentation in the Energy Tent. Daniel Botkin is a permaculture-inspired, four-season farmer, goat herder and teacher on Laughing Dog Farm, in Gill, MA
- 12:15 – Compost for the Autumn Garden (Rick Innes, Clearview Composting)Read moreAlthough most people think of compost as something to add when planting in the spring, there are many ways that compost can be beneficially used in the autumn as part of a thoughtful management of soil quality in gardens and lawns. Examples include mulching gardens, planting trees and shrubs, and topdressing or reconstructing lawn areas. 20-minute mini-demo in the main Portal tent.
- 12:45 – Three Ways to Green Your Electric Bill (Pat Larson, North Quabbin Energy) Read moreLooking to change your electricity habits? Pat Larson of North Quabbin Energy will share two quick tips for using less and signing up for renewably-generated power, as well as one bigger idea about why now is a great time to explore a photovoltaic (PV) system for your own residence using incentives and low-cost solar loans. 20-minute mini-demo in the main Portal tent.
- 1:00 – A Solar “Energy Island” Home from the 1790s – Case Study (Hughes Pack, Current resident and STEM Solar Lab project Curriculum Director) Read moreResidential solar energy applications for you to consider and explore. 40-minute presentation in the Energy Tent. The house – The renovation of this 200 year old cape included moving it to a new insulated foundation, installing a new high efficiency propane heating system, replacing the windows and doors, adding insulation, Window Quilts, interior thermo-pane window inserts, a hot air system, a heat recovery ventilator, installing several PV arrays and a solar hot water system. The overall energy consumption was reduced by over 50%. Foam insulation was added to the exterior to further decrease the heat loss. Our PV array is now up to 5.4 kW which supplies all of the electricity to run the house as well the electricity to heat and cool the house with a mini split heat pump. The home owner– Hughes Pack recently retired from 37 years of teaching astronomy and physics at a local school. Along with his love of all things in the sky above Hughes has always been infatuated with electricity. About five years ago he became involved with an educational solar electrical energy project called the STEM Solar Lab and is now transitioning to a new career of promoting solar energy education on a couple of fronts. Hughes has also always loved sunshine, but his recent purchase of and life in this “deep-energy” retrofit home has been truly inspirational for him. Every sunny day, he continues to learn and appreciate how remarkable the energy from the sun really is and how many ways we can harness it for our own use. As a result of this very personal experience, he feels compelled to share this adventure with others so that they too might “see the light” and learn new ways use it to live, save money, reduce their carbon footprint, increase individual and family comfort and become more independent.
- 1:15 – A Simple Way to Help the Pollinators (Tom Sullivan, Pollinators Welcome) Read moreCome learn simple methods and easy-to-find materials so that you can provide nesting for wood-nesting bees. Along with planting flowers for all sorts of bees, making nests is another way to conserve our native pollinators. 20-minute mini-demo in the main Portal tent.
- 1:45 – Low Voltage DIY solar projects for your backyard buildings (Stefan Maier) Read moreLearn about the basics of using solar power to run low voltage LED lights or small pumps in buildings and structures that aren’t connected to the power grid. Stefan Maier will show some applications solar power that most people can do at home, and share a handout with parts and suppliers as well as basic schematics. 20-minute mini-demo in the main Portal tent.
- 2:00 – Regenerative Agriculture in the Quabbin region & Greater Northeast (Tyson Neukirch, The Farm School) Read moreIn an effort to increase ecological and economic diversity and resilience, Tyson’s current work revolves around rethinking how we utilize agricultural landscapes in this region, both lands that are currently in agricultural production as well as those that once were or have the capacity to be in the future. He uses the term regenerative (instead of sustainable) because it emphasizes the capacity of agriculture/agricultural systems to augment the capacity of a site in terms of soil health, carbon sequestration, water quality, and ecological diversity as opposed to a force of ecological degradation, which it has been over 12,000 year arc of agricultural history. Farmers, back-yard gardeners, and just about anyone who cares about being a “good steward of the land” will be inspired by his talk. 40-minute presentation in the Energy Tent. For the past 5 years Tyson Neukirch has managed the commercial vegetable production at The Farm School in Athol as part the Learn to Farm Program, their year-long vocational training program for adults. His current work at The Farm School is focused on whole farm design/planning for the 460 acres owned and stewarded by The Farm School. In addition, his family owns a 106-acre property in Petersham, where they are (slowly) starting their own farm centered around regenerative farming practices. Prior to moving to Massachusetts, Tyson farmed in Nebraska, California, and Oregon.
- 2:15 – What to Know Before you Vote on the Animal Welfare Ballot Question (Cathy Stanton) Read moreHumane treatment of farm animals is a topic of wide concern, and rightly so. But the issue as it’s being presented on a Massachusetts ballot question this fall isn’t quite as simple as it first appears. Join local farm advocate Cathy Stanton for a walk-through of the pros, the cons, and some of the complexities of how the proposed legislation would play out on the national, state, and local levels. 20-minute mini-demo in the main Portal tent.
- 2:45 – Low-Tech Window Insulation Panels (Janice Kurkoski) Read moreJanice Kurkoski of North Quabbin Energy will walk through the steps of creating an insulating window insert (winsert) before your very eyes! You’ll see for yourself how easy and fun it can be to build these at home, using quality but inexpensive materials that can last for years to come and will give you big savings in heating and cooling costs. For more info click here! 20-minute mini-demo in the main Portal tent.
- 3:00 – The Nolumbeka Project – Preserving New England’s Tribal Heritage (Joe Graveline, The Nolumbeka Project) Read moreA look at 10,000 years of sustainable stewardship and respect in the Middle Connecticut River Valley and what brought it to an end. This talk will address the challenges of what a sustainable way of life looked liked over the millennia to the first peoples here in our region, and compare that to the challenges that our modern lifestyles have inflicted on the natural environment and resources here and now. How might we take the knowledge and wisdom from the first peoples to alter our ways of living to bring healing to the Earth Mother whom we often take for granted? 40-minute presentation in the Energy Tent. Joe Graveline is President and co-founder of the Nolumbeka Project. Joe is a public speaker, long time musician and cultural and environmental preservationist. Over the last 15 years Joe has partnered with other researchers including Nolumbeka’s anthropologist and historic researcher Howard Clark and writer and researcher David Brule to start to uncover the ancient stories hidden in the hills and valleys here in the Middle Connecticut River valley. Joe has looked at long ignored State cultural preservation laws and has spoken publically about asking for accountability to those and other important laws in supporting the work of the Nolumbeka’s and other environmental preservations organizations efforts to protect this jewel we call home here in the Connecticut River Valley.
- 3:15 – Extend your Garden Season (Deb Habib) Read moreDeb Habib from Seeds of Solidarity will share tips for enjoying your garden bounty well into autumn. Learn several simple ways to create hoops for your own low tunnel mini-greenhouse, and about salad and cooking greens that will flourish and nourish. Grow Food Everywhere, and throughout the year! 20-minute mini-demo in the main Portal tent.