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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. So far this year, we have:

Saturday, Oct 5th

12:00 – Getting Started with Backyard Chickens, Jessica VanSteensburg of WeCanFarm

If you are thinking about raising chickens in your backyard you won’t want to miss this talk.  You will learn about all of the considerations that go into deciding if to raise chickens, what type of chickens to raise, what infrastructure to plan on, tips on getting your chicks off to a good start as well as daily management considerations.

Jessica Van Steensburg grew up on a farm in Londonderry NH where her family homesteaded, more out of necessity than desire or experience but together they worked to successfully grow and raise their own vegetables and meat including pigs, sheep, chickens, turkeys and beef cows.  Jessica now lives in Heath, MA on her own farm, WeCanFarm where she, along with her partner Jeff and their three children raise dual-purpose chickens for meat and eggs, as well as raising and breeding heritage-breed Black turkeys and registered Hereford  hogs.  Jessica holds a degree in equine business management and worked in the feed industry for 6 years; working with farmers to develop nutritional diets for their animals.  She also worked in the sustainable energy arena at NESEA, the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association, and now works for and sits on the Board of Just Roots, a non profit organization starting the Greenfield Community Farm.

1:00 – Intro to the World of Fermentation, Michael Iacona

This is a hands-on workshop creating and exploring things fermented.  The fermentation of foods has been used as a method of preservation as well as a way of making foods more nutritious and digestible around the world for millennia.  Many common foods are fermented like beer, wine, vinegar, sauerkraut, yogurt, and cheese.  There are also many lesser known ferments like Ogi (African Millet Porridge, Kvass, and rice beer).  Unfortunately, most commercial producers kill the active, beneficial, and magical microorganisms through sterilization.  In this workshop we will explore the diverse flavors of the world of fermentation as well as how easy beneficial bacteria are to create.  Some things we will be concocting, tasting, smelling, and sampling include sauerkraut/kim-chi, milk and water kefir, fermented grains, miso, and more….

Michael has been a lover and creator of all things fermented for years.

2:00 – Solar PV: Invest for the Future, Jon Child

Recent weather events are making it clear: the climate is heating up. Fossil fuels burned to generate electricity are contributing to the problem. Solar PV generates electricity cleanly, whenever the sun shines. Massachusetts has made clean energy a priority and backed the talk with useful programs for homeowners. Learn how you can do your part to avoid fossil fuel burning, generate your own clean electricity, and achieve a great return on your investment by installing a solar PV system on your property.

Jon Child is a Worker Owner/Design & Sales Manager for PV Squared

3:00 – The ‘Native’ Beezz Needs, Tom Sullivan

With the struggles the European honeybee are facing it is wise to turn to the most efficient and bio-diverse pollinators; native bees. Learn their basic needs, nesting strategies, and flower resources they prefer to offer solutions for the pollination crisis we’re in. Meeting the double-whammy of preserving our crop seed, while ensuring pollinator diversity and terrestrial ecosystem health is what it’s all about. Discover strategies for “bee-scaping” that attract high numbers to your landscape by restoring beautiful pesticide-free habitat; everywhere.

Once a beekeeper, Tom is passionate about the keystone role pollinating insects play with flowering plants. Since graduating from the Conway School in 2008, he has given talks at the USFW Discovery Center, the Natural Organic Farmers Assoc. Conference and the Hitchcock Center for the Environment. Doing business as “Pollinators Welcome” Tom’s focus is on building popular support for regional native bee habitat creation with his “Yard–By-Yard” approach. Join the buzz revolution.


Sunday, Oct 6th

12:00 – The “Power Pallet” Bio-Gas Generator, Alan Page

Two years ago UMASS (you) purchased a 10kw wood fueled generator, a Power Pallet, from All Power Labs in Berkley, CA.  Since then it has been run as a “proof of concept” to show what a system like this can do and what other things it might be able to do. In this discussion you will learn about this unit what is in the pipeline and what should be coming for those who care about sustainability.  The discussion will be question directed after a brief presentation.  The unit will be running for all to see, hear and smell (or not).  As with all experimental projects performance helps mold the future.

The UMass’ Power Pallet generates electricity through wood gasification and creates Biochar as a bi-product. Biochar holds carbon in the ground for centuries when used as a soil enhancer. Come see what YOUR Power Pallet should be doing for YOU!

1:00 – Passive Solar Greenhouses Don’t Need Fossil Fuel, Peter Talmage

A greenhouse can be economically built that doesn’t need fossil fuel back up. (Unless you plan on growing orchids!) Temperatures can be held above freezing by careful design and planning. Capturing and holding solar gain is the key. This talk will show you the basics of a successful design.

Peter has worked in the renewable energy field for thirty eight years, first as owner of Talmage Solar Engineering in Maine and for the last seven years teaching at Greenfield Community College. Having just retired, Peter is now going back to consulting on all matters pertaining to sustainable buildings and transportation. He and his wife live very happily in Northfield in a fully renovated and negative energy 1790s cape.

2:00 – Heating with Solar Hot Water, Donavin Gratz

This workshop will explain the methods of supplementing existing home heating system with solar thermal as well as new system designs with solar heating as the main source. The cost of such systems and the possibility of using utility funded loans for financing will also be covered.

Donavin has been an “outside the box” designer in the solar field for many years.

3:00 – $0 for Heat & Electricity? This Could be Your Home!

Their home was a modest 30 yr. old owner-built cape in Warwick MA and it was in need of repairs. Come see how they turned it into a comfortable, healthy, durable home for the future that has no heat and electric bills, and uses on-site renewable energy for everything. Learn what you can do without going “whole hog” and still take advantage of the new National Grid DER “staged” retrofit program.

Builder: Chris Martin of SunHammer Green Build and former GCC instructor

Homeowners: Steve & Janice Kurkoski