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We’re an informal group of people in north-central Massachusetts who are concerned about issues relating to energy use. More...

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Every year, North Quabbin Energy gathers together presenters on various topics related to Renewable Energy and Local Living. Here is our exciting line-up so far for 2014 – Saturday Sept 27 and Sunday Sept 28 – save the dates!

SATURDAY, Sept 27th

 12:00 – The Secrets in the Soil:  How life simply gives way to life, Rich Field

When Bruce Lee said “be like water”, he was conveying the effortlessness of Nature’s Way.  Well I’ve never seen water pulling up weeds, chasing down bugs, and losing the war on Peace.  So why do we work from dawn till dusk in a fight against our own Creator, instead of laughing at how silly we must look?  Let us take an easier approach by finding humor in our “conventional” methodology, revising our philosophy, and opening ourselves to some fresh air.  In this group session, we will talk about feeding the soil to feed the plants, promoting and supporting our biggest asset, the life in the soil, using low-lying cover crops to save money on nitrogen fertilizers and greatly reduce weed pressure, and remineralizing our lands to minimize pest effects, while maximizing the health of our crops, our bodies, and our minds.  Feed the Soul, as a Whole.

Rich Field is a young, intuitive student of Natural law, Energy, Electrical Systems, and Philosophy.  An Autodidact, or self-taught, Rich Field has taken the Meta approach, by looking at many different fields of study and hybridizing solutions based on common factors.  Raised on a small family farm in Warwick, Ma with domestic livestock, community gardens, the wilds and the woods, haying in the summer and plenty of time to study in the winter by the wood stove.  An avid hiker, mushroom forager, NOFA member and musician, Rich spreads his diverse passions with people everywhere.  Farming as RichfieldsOrganics with the help of Eric Fiske, the two have 14,000sq ft of market gardens meeting the demands of three restaurants, two grocery stores and a local food pantry. On the side, Rich is a Tube Amp Technician based out of an Antiques shop in downtown Orange.

 1:00 – A Pipeline Runs Through It: Un-Natural Natural Gas, with Ken Berthiaume, Leigh Yougblood, and Steve Kurkoski

A panel discussion about the proposed TGP fracked gas pipeline through our area. Panelists will cover the perceived need for new fossil fuel infrastructure, how lands set aside for conservation might be affected, and how this fits in with our global responsibiltiy towards averting climate change. Ultimately, how can we kick our addiction to fossil fuels, even this seemingly “clean” one?

2:00 –  Flower Empower for Bees Sake,  Tom Sullivan

With the struggles for survival that the European honeybee faces it is wise to learn more about the most efficient and bio-diverse pollinators on Earth; native bees. Did you know there are at least 355 species in Massachusetts alone? Come learn how knowing about their basic needs, their crafty nesting strategies, and the awesome flowers they visit can make a difference. The way through this manmade pollination crisis is, did you guess, Flower Power. Diversity of flowers growing in healthy soils, of course, is the key that opens the doors to our own survival.

In this talk, Tom reveals landscape strategies and restoration practices that attract high numbers of pollinators which, in the process of meadow-making, restores our soul flower-by-flower.

Once a beekeeper, Tom is now passionate about the keystone role all pollinating bees play with flowering plants and healthy ecosystems. Since graduating from the Conway School in 2008, he has given talks at the Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust, the Natural Organic Farmers Assoc. Conference, New England Wildflower Society and the Hitchcock Center for the Environment. Doing business as Pollinators Welcome, Tom focuses on building popular support for regional native bee habitat creation by giving talks, consulting with landowners, and running workshops on all aspects of increasing pollinator habitats. He gives special emphasis to “Mini-meadows”. Join the Bee-Scape Revolution by visiting his Give Bees a Chance booth and find ways to make habitat blossom together.

 3:00 - Zero-Net Energy for the new Quabbin Harvest Market, Amy Borezo, Karl Bittenbender

 The North Quabbin Community Food Co-op, with its partner, Mount Grace Land Conservation Trust, is moving forward to make the new home of the Quabbin Harvest, at 12 North Main Street in Orange, MA, a zero net energy facility. Beautifully built in 1875, the masonry building is ripe for the application of modern energy technology to make it energy efficient, as well as a showcase for what is possible without resorting to new construction.

Roof and wall insulation was the first step. Other improvements are double and triple glazed windows, moisture control, ventilation/heat recovery system,  “free-air” refrigeration systems, and high efficiency lighting.  The vision for the heating and air conditioning system includes three or fewer air source heat pumps, with compressors driven by solar panels on the building roof (or covered parking lot as well).  With help from UMass Building & Construction Technology Dept., National Grid, and other Project Partners working together on an integrated design, the Co-op will proceed as quickly as possible to the construction phase, hopefully supported by more state, federal, and private grant programs.

SUNDAY, Sept 28th

12:00 – Plugging into the Sun, Mike Dabrowski

Mike has been interested in alternative energy ever since the oil embargo back in 1973. Seeing first hand how quickly things went bad with only a temporary disruption in supply, he made a vow to move to a more sustainable source of energy. (Boy Scout Motto “Be Prepared”). In the Plugging into the Sun workshop, we explore how Mike has created a unique mobile solar power generation trailer that can provide 120VAC 600W for refrigeration, includes a 7 foot parabolic concentrator that can run a solar powered 450 degree oven/hibachi and make steam/distilled water, along with a metal and stone melting fresnell concentrator, all carried by the self tracking trailer.

Mike has had a lifetime of experience as an inventor, and technical consultant, and has designed and built equipment in many fields. http://99mpg.com/blog/whatisgenesisone/ After saving and planning for most of his life, he made the move to solar last November. http://99mpg.com/blog/pluggingintothesun/gettingabigsolarpl/ Mike designed and installed the system him self, and is continuing to work on moving away from the grid with the goal of complete off grid living. In the hybrid car field, he developed a manual override of the hybrid drive in the Honda Insight called Manual Integrated Motor Assist (MIMA), which earned him three awards at the Tour de Sol MPG competition. More recently he developed a custom battery reconditioning charger that can recondition and return to service the HV batteries in most hybrid cars. Website: http://99mpg.com/

1:00 – Ask the House Doctor and Save $, Spartan Giordano

Bring your questions! We will kick things off with an overview of how a house works. Your questions will be answered with an emphasis on what you can do to cut your utility bills with no-cost low-cost solutions as a priority. Find out where you can get funds to help do energy upgrades to your home.

Spartan Giordano has been studying building science since 2008 when he began taking classes in the Renewable Energy / Energy Efficiency department at Greenfield Community College. After designing and building his own super-energy efficient home in Greenfield, he went on to install solar electric and solar hot water systems for Sandri Energy. He now owns and operates Spartan Solar, which is focused on designing, installing, and servicing solar hot water systems. Website at goSpartanSolar.com – Blogging at spartanandhannah.wordpress.com

  2:00 – Hands-on Seed Saving Techniques, Gail Mason & Nina Renshaw Powers

This is a hands-on workshop that we ask you to participate in as we explore the dry and wet method of seed saving from start to finish. We will work with you showing you the art of winnowing, extracting seeds, fermentation, and washing seeds. Once we have processed the seeds, we will take you through the proper steps involved in drying them and safely storing them for optimum outcome.

Gail Mason learned about the sacredness of seeds from her mother who would share stories of their invaluable contribution to the circle of life. These precious stories stayed with her throughout her life. She became an avid gardener , respecting, loving and nurturing the seeds that she planted. When she moved to Wendell Ma. 3 years ago, she decided to pursue her dreams and co- founded a place called Moonlight Turtle Lodge. Moonlight Turtle Lodge’s purpose is to recognize the lasting effects our journey has on future generations and to live in Harmony with mother Earth. Seed Saving workshops were started in 2013 by Moonlight Turtle Lodge and in 2014 it established the Wendell Seed Saving Library.

Nina Renshaw Powers has worked in the food industry for nearly forty years. She has worked mainly in the culinary arts with an emphasis on healthy organic food. She is an apprentice to Sage Maurer studying plant spirit medicine. She has co-founded Moonlight Turtle Lodge where organic sustainable gardening is at the center of focus. She has been working at Moonlight Turtle Lodge on their new project that is based on the importance of owning our own food source through seed saving and sharing at the Wendell Library. They can be found on Facebook at Moonlight Turtle Lodge. E-mail is moonlightturtlelodge@yahoo.com.

3:00 – The Return of the American Chestnut Tree – Restoring the Mighty Giant, Lois & Denis Melican, American Chestnut Foundation

One hundred summers have passed since farmers and landowners in central and western Massachusetts began to notice that chestnut trees were dying. They were not alone in their grim observations as American chestnut trees (Castanea dentata) which had reigned over the eastern forests from Maine to Georgia were falling to a deadly, accidentally imported pathogen aka chestnut blight.  By 1950, America’s 4 billion chestnut trees were dead and regarded as functionally extinct in what in what can only be described sadly as one of the worst environmental disasters of the 20th century. In its prime, an American chestnut tree could be as tall as a twelve story building and have massive diameters, reportedly up to 17 feet!  The trees were prodigious nut producers with each mature tree reliably dropping several thousand delicious, highly nutritious chestnuts in October which sustained wildlife, farm animals, and people. Chestnut wood was highly prized as it was light weight, easy to work, and had a beautiful grain with natural rot resistance.

The presentation relates the amazing arc of the chestnut story from its historic importance and the devastation and anguish caused by the loss of the trees to blight all the way to today where there is hope for the recovery and return of a healthy, blight resistant chestnut tree thanks to the 31 year long back crossing effort of the American Chestnut Foundation.

Participants will learn that the reintroduction of the American chestnut tree is one of the most interesting and important conservation projects of our time and that its ultimate success will take generations and depend on conservation partnerships with farmers and landowners and the schools, scout groups, and land trusts of rural communities.

Denis and Lois Melican are board members of the MA/RI Chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation and planted a 233 tree research orchard at Moore State Park in 2003. Recently, they helped plant 2,000 trees in a seed production orchard at Smith College’s MacLeish Center in Whately, Mass. and 1,600 trees at Springside Park in Pittsfield. The presentation will be followed by a ceremonial tree planting on site.

For more information:




Last year’s (2013) presentations were:

Getting Started with Backyard Chickens, Jessica VanSteensburg of WeCanFarm

Intro to the World of Fermentation, Michael Iacona

Solar PV: Invest for the Future, Jon Child

The ‘Native’ Beezz Needs, Tom Sullivan

The “Power Pallet” Bio-Gas Generator, Alan Page

Passive Solar Greenhouses Don’t Need Fossil Fuel, Peter Talmage

Heating with Solar Hot Water, Donavin Gratz

$0 for Heat & Electricity? This Could be Your Home!