Things we have learned in recent programs:
March 2016: Pipeline Forum
At the West Chester Borough Hall we heard from:
Lynda Farrell - Pipeline Safety Coalition
Eric Friedman - Impacted Resident from Delco
Justin Wasser - Sierra Club: Keeping Dirty Fuels in the Ground
We had a turnout of about 60 people, including several community activists and 2 state rep candidates - Carolyn Comitta and Susan Rzucidlo. Next steps include continuing our communication between local pipeline activist groups - Sierra Club, Pipeline Safety Coalition, Community Environment Legal Defense Fund, FAC and others. Attend local hearings and public meetings held by munis and pipeline companies. Share info. Increase our dialog with elected officials.
You are invited to review the presentations of each of our presenters here:
Lynda - what do pipelines look like and where they are going?
Eric - what level of risk is acceptable?
Justin - what's the big picture? What is at stake?
Contact Bernie Greenberg (email@example.com) with questions or to volunteer to help stop the spread of hazardous pipelines in Chester and Delaware Counties.
July 2015: Hiking and Biking in Chester County
We had about 25 people attend this program, most from the greater Kennett area and were eager to hear about plans to extend and connect existing trails throughout Chester County and especially along the Brandywine River green spaces.
Sheila Flemming described the efforts of the Brandywine Conservancy to organize townships and borough managers to: apply for grant funding, coordinate trail development plans, approach and negotiate with land owners and in general work together on a vision of regional and local trails that will benefit Chester County residents as well as grow into an attraction and destination for the greater area.
Rand Waltermyer from the Chester County Planning Commission described the status and plans for several regional trails that have plans to become backbone multi-use trails, including: The Struble Trail which is planned to go from Downingtown to Honey Brook, The Chester Valley Trail connecting Valley Forge to Lancaster County's Enola Low Grade Trail, the Devault Line connecting Phoenixville to the Chester Valley Trail, and the Kennett Trails Alliance plans to connect the Red Clay Greenway into New Castle County, DE.
Download a .pdf version of Sheila's presentation here.
Download a .pdf version of Randy's presentation here.
July 2015: Paddle on the Brandywine
We started with a presentation and discussion with Bob Struble from the Brandywine Valley Association (soon to be known as the Brandywine Red Clay Alliance) about the challenges of the Brandywine Creek and its many tributaries throughout Chester County. He showed us a map of the stream system and the "Red Stream Blue" project. The streams marked on the map as blue are healthy. The stream sections in red are impaired in some way. Through grant money and other funding, BVA is organizing many projects to improve the condition of these sections by planting trees, picking trash, working with farmers and industrial polluters and more.
Then we hit the river. A glorious day for our 20 paddlers. No real mishaps - ok, there was the snake that woke up in the bottom of Bob's kayak (Bob's kayak that he brought). Nobody tipped, but some of us got wet.
Apr 2015: Permaculture Workshop in Honey Brook
On a beautiful Spring afternoon the Sierra Club Sustainable Agriculture group met with some friends and, within a few hours of expert instruction and a lot of hard work, had the beginnings of a permaculture garden.
Our member Mike McGrory of Feed the Burbs (www.feedtheburbs.org), and Doug Boice, of Clay and Plenty (www.clayandplenty.com), led us as we dug, cleared, layered wood chips and straw, and planted unfamiliar things like comfrey and sunchokes, all the while learning about the benefits of such plants and of building up the soil.
While plying a formidable broadfork and creating what will become an edible border to our garden, Doug kept up a steady flow of information and tips on what to plant and why, and the uses and benefits of permaculture plantings. Some of permaculture's hallmarks are using what is available in the landscape, and utilizing an assortment of trees, shrubs and perennial vegetables to create a low maintenance source of food that benefits all life forms. Our garden has been blessed with an abundance of earthworms from the beginning, but we learned that plants such as comfrey will add rich nutrients to the soil and so is the reason that we planted a border of them close to the edge of the vegetable beds.
We're all becoming familiar with the wonders of kale; how about perennial kale? Have you ever heard of "walking" onions? Now we have them, and we can't wait to see them fulfill their name. Do you have wet conditions in your yard? It could be an opportunity to grow ramps, similar to leeks - they love those conditions.
From creating a living border around the raised beds we moved to the herb spiral, created last year by Tom McGlynn of Feed the Burbs. It passed our wildest expectations last year, but needed some attention after the winter. We added soil and returned it to its original height and shape, and now we're ready to add this year's annual herbs to the perennials that were planted last year. For a garden feature that provides both a wide diversity of herbs in a compact space and a visually interesting look, an herb spiral is hard to beat.
Thank you Mike and Doug, we had a great time learning and planting and can't wait to see our permaculture garden develop over the coming years. Sunchokes anyone? Mike and Doug can offer their services to help design a permaculture landscape and spread the word beyond Honey Brook.
Looking ahead we're planning an end of summer party to enjoy our harvest and share plantings and recipes so please check this site for more information.
Nov 2014 Program:
Permaculture Garden Tour
Thanks to Mike McGrory for organizing both the permaculture program last March and the garden tour in November at Dale Hendricks' house. We had a great turnout - about 20 people - for the walk around Dale's property which is filled with small gardens, from seadlings to mature plants, a greenhouse and an outdoor kitchen and bio-char station.
Please see the links below for the follow up documents from Dale's event.
May 2014 Program:
A great presentation by Annemarie Cantrel on the science, psuedo-science, lack of transparency and regulation and credible testing, conflicting test results, reluctance to label, farmers fear of going against industry sead giants and local legislation that takes some small steps to inform the public about what we are buying and eating.
Annemarie has graciously offered to share her presentation with us. Download it here.
March 2014 Program:
Sustainable Suburban Gardening
Melissa Miles and Tom McGlynn
On March 6th we hosted a timely presentation on the topic of sustainable gardening led by Permaculture designers Melissa Miles and Tom McGlynn. Tom and Melissa provided a background on permaculture gardening and demonstrated that if we employ design principles modeled after nature, we can increase our garden's yield while greatly reducing maintenance. Specific topics covered were building swales, managing weeds (e.g. If you can't beat it, eat it!), guilds, and perrenial vegetables. We even learned practical ways to prevent deer ticks (building a woodchip barrier, attracting their natural predators).
The presentation was enjoyed by 30+ gardeners of all experience levels, and great connections were made. Please see below for a copy of the presentation and a handout with some very useful info. The club will be hosting a follow up event in August for a tour of a mature Permaculture garden. Be on the look out!
Permaculture Presentation, Mar 6, 2014
Two Miles Micro-Farm
Eastern PA Permaculture Guild)
Feed the Burbs
Book Report - Walking To Listen - podcast
This is the first in what hopefully will be many reviews and recommendations of books, films, audio books or podcasts that our members have "read" and would like to share their experience - good or bad.
"Walk To Listen" is a audio podcast documentary about and by a young man who, after graduating from college, had a crisis of purpose - what should he do with the rest of his life?
To help find the answer, Andrew Forsthoefe decided to walk across the country. 4000 miles, with a backpack and a tape recorder (ok, probably his smart phone) and listen to the stories of the people that he met. And he met a lot of people. A fascinating story and stories within the story.
Jim summarized the podcast at our Feb meeting, and played some excerpts and handed out free copies for anyone that would like to listen to this 50 minute walk-a-log.
Community Supported Agriculture
Our April meeting was about CSAs - Community Supported Agriculture. Randell Spackman, from Thornbury Farm and CSA spoke about the history of his farm and how CSAs work in general.
Dan Cellucci talked about the community garden he has helped to build at the Melton Community Center and how his organic restaraunt, Roots Cafe
in West Chester, uses foods from the garden as well as the Thornbury CSA, and contributes to the composting system.
Bring your questions about CSAs, community gardens and food scrap composting.
Native Plants of the Northeast
Guest speaker Claudia West from North Creek Nurseries educated the group at our March, 2013 meeting about gardening with native plants and tips for having a successful garden.
The resources Claudia recommended are:
- NatureServe Explorer Website
- Plant Communities of Pennsylvania - pdf a DCNR publication
- Bringing Nature Home - By Douglas W. Tallamy, Foreword by Rick Darke - Timber Press
- Invasive Plants - by Sylvan Ramsey Kaufman - Amazon
- Native Plants of the Northeast - by Donald J. Leopold - Amazon
- Shenk's Ferry Wildflower Preserve - brochure
Forward On Climate - Rally in DC
45 thousand of Americans gathered on February 18, 2013 in Washington, D.C. to make Forward on Climate the largest climate rally in history. Include about 500 people from the Philly area and local Sierra Club volunteers. Despite the cold and wind, we joined together to voice as one our opposition to the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline and demand action to combat climate change and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels.
Birds in our Backyards
Guest speaker Steve Saffier Director of Audubon @ Home gave a great presentation at our December, 2012 meeting about the Great Backyard Bird Count. Stay tuned for more info as the date for the nationwide count gets closer.
Steve recommended these books and resources during his talk: