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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 2015 – Saturday Sept 26 and Sunday Sept 27 – save the dates!

SATURDAY, Sept 26th


Community Solar Unveiled

Lynn Benander, of Co-op Power and Adam Thurell of PV²

Community Shared Solar is a great way for people to get in on solar energy, especially for renters or those whose roofs or yards are not appropriate locations. Lynn and Adam will explain the in and outs of Community shared PV systems, including business models, ideal locations, how investors fit in, etc. They will also provide up-to-date information on net-metering and the current options for home and business owners in the National Grid and Eversource service territories.

Lynn Benander works tirelessly to build community ownership of renewable energy resources in New England and New York. She serves on numerous cooperative and community boards as well as on the Shelburne Falls Energy and Finance Committees. Lynn manages Co-op Power, a multi-class, multi-race network of community energy cooperatives working for fossil fuel freedom in Massachusetts and Vermont.  Their first community shared solar project is a 600 kW array in Greenfield serving their biodiesel plant and 200 families.

Adam Thurell is the commercial systems project manager at PV², a cooperatively owned PV installation company with over 12 years of experience providing renewable energy solutions to home and business owners in the Pioneer Valley and beyond.


Allying with the Fungal Kingdom: Simple outdoor cultivation and foraging skills

Willie Crosby, Fungi Ally

Join Willie for an introduction to the fungal kingdom. This vast kingdom has much to share with us once we begin to look. We will discuss the role fungi play in our lives and ecosystems while uncovering their lifecycle. Willie will demonstrate a simple process of growing Wine Cap mushrooms in your garden or landscape and easy methods to expand these beds INFINITELY! We will also have a look at several edible mushrooms, which are fruiting in Massachusetts right NOW (Sept/Oct). Participants will leave with ability to identify several wild mushrooms and the knowledge to start cultivating mushrooms when they leave the workshop!

Willie Crosby is the owner of Fungi Ally, a local mushroom cultivation and education business. Willie has been studying and growing mushrooms for the last 3 years. He frequently forages for edible and interesting fungi in the woods of western Massachusetts. He has given over 20 workshops through out New England and currently teaches a mushroom cultivation class at the Stockbridge School of Agriculture.


Cover Crops for Home Gardens

Sharon Gensler, Wild Browse Farm and Sustainability Center

Cover Crops aren’t just for large farms!  Explore how to make use of “friendly” cover crops in the home garden:  what types, how & when to plant, how they fit into a crop rotation, while improving soil health, reducing weed pressure, preventing erosion and sequestering carbon.

Sharon Gensler has been a homesteader and educator for over 30 years. She and her partner Pru Smith offer workshops, internships, mentoring and coaching for “the Good Life” at their farm in Wendell. Sharon is also the Outreach Coordinator for the Massachusetts Chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association, (NOFA/Mass)



Heirloom Madness,

Fred Swedberg, that Heirloom Guy

Fred has been gardening all his life. He began looking at heirloom tomatoes to find a hobby while recovering from two hip replacements. The rest is Heirloom History – $100 of extra seed money soon became 100 different heirlooms. Fred topped out at 300 varieties, but with the “encouragement” of his saintly wife, he now grows a mere 175. Fred’s life list of Heirlooms has grown to over 1000 tried to date.

Each year at his annual Heirloom Tomato plant sale (you’ve seen the signs on Rte. 2!) Fred offers not only the “tried & true” Top 20 Heirlooms, but all the way to the “weird and whacky”. He has created a few dozen open-pollinated crosses and features his own “Calabash Collection”. Trading and saving seeds from all over the world has been a passion for Fred and his family for 20 years.

Fred will offer seed saving tips, folklore, a song or two, and how to write a fictitious story so people will buy your plants.

Fred Swedberg is a retired Baptist Pastor who plays Bluegrass music, attending festivals with the Father of Progressive Bluegrass, Roger Sprung.




The Basics of Lacto-fermentation

Heather Wernimont, Real Pickles

Come learn about lacto-fermentation, the original and healthy way of pickling vegetables. Heather will talk about the key concepts you need to know to make delicious fermented pickles at home, such as salt concentration, temperature, etc. She’ll demonstrate preparing small batches in mason jars and have some finished samples on hand for tasting.

Heather Wernimont is the fermentation manager at Real Pickles in Greenfield.


What’s so Hot about Heat Pumps?

Peter Talmage, P.E.

No matter how you currently heat your house there is now a better way. Mini split heat pumps can heat your house less expensively than most every other system and with the addition of a modest solar electric array you can provide all the energy right on site. Peter will review this amazing technology including information on rebates and incentives and how, with a push of a button, the system becomes the world’s most efficient air conditioner.

Peter Talmage is a professional engineer who has worked in the field of renewable energy systems and high efficiency buildings since 1975. He ran his own business, Talmage Solar Engineering, for 28 years in Maine and since moving to the valley in 2004 has taught energy courses at GCC. He now does consulting on energy systems and conservation in homes and lives in Amherst with his wife Christine. He is spending most of his time currently doing a deep energy retrofit on their home.


Building an Affordable High Performance Home

Spartan Giordano, Spartan Solar

Super-energy efficient homes don’t need to be more expensive than standard new construction. Contractor Spartan Giordano will share his experience and lessons learned in building his own affordable, award-winning, net-zero home. He will share strategies that can save thousands on construction. This talk will be helpful for do it yourself home-owner builders, contractors, and anyone interested in homes that produce as much energy as they consume!

Spartan Giordano is the owner of Spartan Solar, a full service solar hot water installation company. Learn more about his home at zeroandbeyond.com


“If You Can Boil Water: Brewing Beer at Home”

Joel Watts, Millers River Hops Exchange

See what it takes to make your first batch of beer at home using a simple extract process. The equipment and ingredients needed will be covered in a step-by-step look at the homebrewing process.

Joel Watts first started dabbling in homebrewing 20 years ago. His hobby got out of control in 2014 when he opened Millers River Hop Exchange in Athol.

 Last year’s (2014) presentations were:

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

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

Flower Empower for Bees Sake,  Tom Sullivan

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

Plugging into the Sun, Mike Dabrowski

Ask the House Doctor and Save $, Spartan Giordano

Hands-on Seed Saving Techniques, Gail Mason & Nina Renshaw Powers

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