“Tightwad Fair” in the Future?
One of the main aims of the Transition Towns movement is to encourage people to learn and share useful personal and community skills which will increase an area’s self-sufficiency. Taking this concept one step further, the Dexter Dover Area Towns in Transition (DDATT) recognizes that many simple manual skills, which our grandparents took for granted but we haven’t had to cultivate in ourselves, can also save a bunch of cash.
The more we can produce, repair and trade for ourselves in our own communities(keeping more wealth and capital local), the less cash we need to generate and then send out of the area to buy services or products.
A “Tightwad Fair” is in the planning stages for the Dexter Dover area. “Learn stuff, save money” is the motto. DDATT wants to identify and connect people of all ages in the community who want to learn skills of more-independent living (such as food preparation, tool maintenance, heating with wood, fixing appliances, etc.) with people who can teach those skills.
With that connection in mind, on Saturday morning January 17th, 2015 (10 AM), DDATT is sponsoring a Sharpening Small Tools workshop at the Abbott Memorial Library in Dexter. Scissors, knives, chisels, planes, scythes, handsaws and so forth all require a keen edge to function properly, but few of us have been trained to do this simple skill. The idea for the workshop is to provide an inviting space for people to teach and to learn how to sharpen. People who know how to sharpen are invited to bring their simple sharpening tools, and people who want to learn are invited to bring their dull implements but inquisitive minds. The goal: for this essential household skill to be successfully and rewardingly shared.
As we find out how much interest this “re-skilling” idea has in the area, DDATT plans to organize more such single events on a monthly basis, leading perhaps to a summertime “Tightwad Fair” on a larger scale somewhere in town. If you are interested in helping in some fashion with this community building venture, contact DDATT via Sam Brown (277-4221) or Ed Hummel (924-3836).
Reviving Dexter’s Water Power
Dexter Dover Area Towns in Transition (DDATT) held its monthly public discussion August 1st on “Water Power in Dexter, past, present, and future” at the Abbott Memorial Library.
A full house of about two dozen interested local citizens listened to historian Carol Fuertado describe why the early 1800’s settlers chose the area: lots of falling water. Lake Wassookeag is about 170 higher than the Fayscott Bog at the bottom of town, and this “head” allowed up to fifteen separate mills to harness the water’s energy for running machinery at first and, eventually, making electricity. In the 1880’s other forms of energy began to compete with waterpower (steam from coal and wood, then oil), allowing power to be used anywhere, not tied to a particular riverbed. The last active water powered mill in Dexter, the grist mill (which is now the centerpiece of the Dexter Historical Society’s museum), closed its doors for business in 1965.
A few short video clips then introduced to the attendees elementary concepts of current small scale hydro, how changes in technology have made power generation more efficient, easier, and somewhat less damaging to a stream’s ecology.
Dave Pearson, a Dexter resident and former town manager, reviewed for the group recent attempts by the Dexter Energy Committee (DEC) to channel the East Branch of the Sebasticook’s waters into electrical generation. Because of the potential effects on water pollution and ecological impacts, hydro projects are subject to much more regulational scrutiny than other forms of renewable energy (such as solar or wind). In 2009, DEC member Ruth Fogg volunteered to tackle the daunting task of getting federal permits for re-establishing Dexter’s hydro resource, but discovered that the process was so complex and expensive that the Town Council decided to indefinitely table the project.
During the open discussion that followed Pearson’s remarks, many people commented that it’s time to reopen this project. Gary Crane of Exeter, whose job is with large hydro projects on the Penobscot and Graham Lake (among others), expressed surprise upon hearing that an old buried 18 inch water pipe identified on old topographical maps has not yet been located (it could be usable as a “penstock” to supply a downstream generator). Ram Das Singh of Dexter would love to harness enough water to power small-scale local businesses which could proudly advertise “Made in Dexter Maine by clean water power!”. Florence Turek of Garland reminded participants of the unique spring-fed qualities of Lake Wassookeag, its remarkable abundance, and our responsibility to “use it but not abuse it”. Dexter’s Tim Breen observed that hydro projects don’t need to control all of a river’s flow, but can efficiently use part then return it back to the main stream. Gordon Davis of Parkman noted that 57 dams across the state have been removed in the recent past (but just last week Governor LePage asked his Energy Office to arrange a statewide inventory of exisiting or potential water power sites, indicating a renewed interest in this form of energy). Ed Hummel’s weather records from his Garland home over the past thirty years shows an increase in annual rainfall (from 40 to 50 inches over the period), an indicator that the “fuel” that runs hydro power is more and more abundant in the area, and we should be taking advantage of it.
Regarding the challenges in the way of reestablishing Dexter’s hydro project, Pearson noted that the high cost and unguaranteed success of the permitting process is still the main obstacle. Upwards of thirty thousand dollars was the 2009 estimate. He shared engineering figures from that year which showed, for an investment of $290,000, the Town of Dexter could generate over $53,000 of electricity per year. Recent land ownership changes along the streambed have allowed the Town to acquire the actual dam at the head of the Lake itself, whereas before it was privately owned.
Heidi Reinhard, a small farmer on the banks of the Piscataquis River in Milo, suggested using Kickstarter as a possible way to raise some money to get the permitting accomplished if the Town Council itself was reluctant to do so. Tamm Fenn of Garland encouraged Dexter residents to publicly support the idea so that the Council will realize how much traction the idea has, not only in Dexter but in surrounding towns which also have potential water-power developments.
Pruning Apple Trees in the Summertime?
The most common advice for fruit growers who seek to improve their trees’ production is to prune “unwanted” branches during the period of dormancy (late Fall to early Spring). Heron Breen has quite a different suggestion, based on his years of practice and observation. Pruning trees at the height of their summertime vigor (June 21 to August 21) allows for much faster healing and less “reaction” sprouting, according to Breen.
Ten local amateur orchardists spent three hours at Sam Brown’s small apple orchard in Cambridge with Breen on Saturday July 20, a workshop organized by Dexter Dover Area Towns in Transition (DDATT) to promote its mission of increasing local food production to reduce dependency on imports.
Pittsfield’s Woodruff explains Household Solar Energy Systems
In June 1921, Doc Woodcock graduated from NH Fay High School in Dexter. He boarded in town during the weekdays because his family lived in Ripley, seven miles out of town, an overwhelming distance for daily travel in those days. On June 6th 2014, Vaughan Woodruff, Doc’s grandson and the featured speaker at the regular First Friday public discussion at the Abbott Memorial Library, woke up that morning in Albany, New York, 383 miles away, and made it to Dexter easily by the evening.
Woodruff, who is the owner and promoter of InSource Renewables, a Pittsfield solar energy company, brought up the contrast between his grandfather’s world and his own (in less than a hundred years) to point out how changes in technology (our transportation systems, in this case) can affect our thinking over time. Doc would never have imagined traveling from Albany NY in six hours, much less feeling energetic enough to rouse a roomful of interested Dexter Dover Area Towns in Transition (DDATT) supporters with a lively explanation and investigation of the latest in Solar energy systems and policies.
After his own high school graduation (from MCI in Pittsfield) and then earning an engineering degree from UMaine, Woodruff, as did most of his peers, left the state to find higher paying jobs than could be found here. Yet the imprint of growing up in a small Maine town never left his mind, and he eventually returned, determined to convert his passion for renewable energy into a useful, thriving business in the central Maine area.
According to Woodruff, resistance to renewables is growing weaker as local people see more and more photovoltaic (PV) panels, small windmills, and solar hot water heaters around the area. He reminded the DDATT audience of the example that indoor toilets, when first introduced, were not an immediate success: “People would say: ‘Do what?! Where?!’, but once they saw that it worked for the neighbors, the whole system of indoor plumbing came around into acceptance and turned into an essential trade.” The rising awareness of Central Maine people about the cost of energy to heat and run their homes is driving interest in Solar energy systems. Woodruff believes that the solar “trade” has the potential to create new good-paying local jobs while increasing the quality of local communities, by making buildings more comfortable and less expensive to heat and cool.
His specialty is solar hot water, which offers the most energy bang for the buck, but he is also expert and up-to-date on solar electrical systems. Many questions from the DDATT audience kept Woodruff hopping: feasibility of powering electric cars, reducing heating demand by insulating houses better, where and how to put solar panels on a roof or rack, are mini split heat pumps a fit with photovoltaics, how long is “payback” on solar installations, and so forth.
The policies of government play a key role in the support of new technologies, so Woodruff spends more time than he’d like down in the halls of Augusta, patiently bending the ears of legislators and regulators about the finer points of solar energy’s suitability to Maine, and how its development is essential for rebuilding communities from the inside, instead of waiting and hoping for some factory or large corporation to come to town.
“As our youths leave, and as our dollars leave, we have less power.” He calculated that, in just our area towns, $26,600,000 is spent each year on residential energy, most of which goes out of state to oil and gas companies. With smart policy and encouragement to reduce energy demand and build solar generating capacity, Woodruff estimates we could reduce that number by 75 percent.
Woodruff’s fledgling business is not without struggles, but he’s optimistic about central Maine peoples’ spirits and resiliency and thrift (“I’m a tightwad and I bet most of you in here are too!”), and that we are in the midst of a major worldwide change in energy awareness that will encourage more use of solar systems. Adapting to changing technologies takes time. In June 2114, what will Vaughan Woodruff’s grandchild’s daily life be like?
Planting a fruit tree with the Big Picture in mind
As a continuation of the Dexter Dover Area Towns in Transition (DDATT) efforts to increase perennial local food production and energy independence, Heron Breen recently showed a half dozen fruit-tree enthusiasts how to properly plant and care for the objects of their desire at Sam Brown’s young orchard in Cambridge.
The basics of installing a plant are simple, yet what distinguishes Breen’s instruction from others is his emphasis on considering the bigger picture: not just the hole where the young fruit tree is going but the entire farm/field/forest environment. A planter needs to know how the roots of a new tree interact with its new home in order to be able to help it survive the first critical years.
“The three biggest killers of young apple trees are mice, deer, and humans,” says Breen. Mice, which can kill a tree by eating the bark entirely around its base, must be controlled by reducing their grassland habitat near to the orchard. Close mowing in August and September will create unfavorable conditions for mice and voles, who don’t like to be thus exposed to aerial predators. If the rodent population is high enough, some forms of trapping should be considered.
Deer are notorious nibblers and must be kept away from young trees. Physical fencing and repellents that work on the deer’s sense of smell are effective, and a regularly patrolling dog in the orchard area keeps all sorts of animals away.
Humans, however, frequently cause the most damage, and mostly out of ignorance. According to Breen, many people put trees on poor sites, either too wet or too dry. The size of the hole for a new tree is usually too small and too shallow. All the nutrient-competing sod in a five foot by five foot square should be removed before digging deep enough so that the young tree’s roots can be easily spread out with no distortion. Soil fertility is important, but not just in the tree’s hole: fruit tree roots grow horizontally about three times as long as the tree grows vertically in search of nutrients, so Breen encourages the spread of fertility across the whole orchard. “You don’t want to pamper your tree with perfect conditions in a small bathtub, otherwise it’ll never have incentive to spread out and really take hold.” Don’t stomp on the roots when planting: gently watering the new plant will cause any air pockets in the soil around the fine roots to fill in. Regular watering in the first few seasons is critical (at least ten gallons a week unless it’s really been raining hard), but don’t dump it on all at once. “Think: how does Nature do it?” Breen often repeated during the workshop.
Along with the actual planting advice, Breen helped the group consider a myriad of choices involved with successful fruit growing: deciding between dwarf, semi-dwarf, and standard rootstocks; what varieties to pick and where to find them; how to care for the trees once they’re in the ground (you can’t just plant and leave… ).
DDATT will have Breen, who lives in St Albans, back to the orchard on July 12th, for a demonstration and discussion of Summer Pruning of fruit trees, limited to 12 participants. For more information on this workshop, please call Sam Brown 277-4221 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Dexter woman’s energy powers volunteer community food production
Variations on Community Gardening was the topic at Dexter Dover Area Towns in Transition’s (DDATT) March 7th First Friday public discussion held in the Abbott Memorial Library’s meeting room in Dexter. Deb Burdin, who with her husband Shawn own and operate Bwarts Greenhouse on Route 7, is the driving force behind two different types of community based food production which literally hit the Dexter ground in 2013 and are expanding in scope this year.
One of Burdin’s ideas, “Shared Bounty”, is a large volunteer-run garden, growing and delivering free produce for any local area seniors who need it. She has recognized the need for a more healthy and affordable diet for seniors for a while and grew frustrated with the complexity and ineffectiveness of the few State or local governmental programs that attempted to address this nutritional issue. So, in 2013, she and at least a dozen regular volunteers planned, planted, maintained, harvested, bagged and delivered all sorts of vegetables to elderly residents throughout the growing season on a easily accessible piece of farmer Fred Sherburne’s land in town. 136 “shares” (individual bags of whatever produce was available) went into seniors’ kitchens at the peak of the 2013 summer season.
“To see those people go down there and work as hard as they did, it was just amazing, in the rain and fog and sun,” said Sherburne of the volunteers. Burdin is grateful to Sherburne for his support and assistance in preparing the soil and adding cow manure and compost to the whole plot. “We grow all organically, but we aren’t certified, “ she explained, “so we don’t use poisons, so we need lots of hands to keep the weeds and critters down”.
“A lot of these old people get confused when they don’t have to sign up for some government program. We just give’em the food if they want it. If you want it, you’re qualified!” laughs Burdin. The volunteer work aspect of the garden has also attracted many seniors to help out themselves, getting a social boost from mutual work and interaction. Once last summer during planting time, Burdin saw a little girl and an old woman out by themselves, slowly working along a freshly tilled spot. The little girl turned out to be “kissing the beans for Grammy to grow them better”. Some who aren’t very mobile anymore come and just watch, happy to be outside in the company of others. This generational aspect drew lots of interest from the discussion participants, as a way for those people who know about gardening to transfer their knowledge to those who don’t know much, yet.
The second 2013 gardening project took shape at an Arno Road field of Mark McKusick, the other Dexter farmer who made available tilled and organically fertilized land for anyone who lacked space for their own gardens. Despite Burdin’s intense and seemingly endless energy (“I get an idea and just keep slammin’ on it ‘til it’s done!”), she didn’t have enough time last year to fully advertise and develop these gardens, so only a few people took advantage of the offer. This year Burdin hopes that more people take advantage the opportunity, and that someone might step forward to lead it on.
McKusick, one of the discussion group participants, watched a few novice gardeners last year lose their courage when the weeds suddenly took over the nice, clean, well-tilled seedbed because they didn’t know what to expect once the seeds were planted and the summer advanced. He said they stood in the hip-high weeds and exclaimed “OMG! Where did all THESE come from?”
The group liked the suggestion that perhaps someone with experience could hold an informal regular weekly session there on whatever current seasonal tasks happened to be necessary. A Sangerville resident commented that, “I’m not a gardener, I don’t know what to do, so having a little workshop at the common garden would be a wonderful help for me.”
In closing the evening, Burdin expressed her wish for a big turnout at a volunteer work day at the senior garden set for 8 AM on Saturday May 3rd which will be followed by a potluck “Planting Dinner” at noon. “We need plenty of muscle power that day to get the beds ready and the poles set up and get as much of the up-front grunt work done as we can, and still have fun.”
The First Friday public discussion meetings are sponsored by DDATT and the Abbott Memorial Library, on subjects emphasizing useful skills and practices to help reduce our area’s dependence on fossil fuel energy. The April 4th topic will be looking at how well does our current educational system work to serve our needs. Matthew Drewette-Card of AOS 94 will begin the evening describing “effective grading practices in schools & proficiency-based education.” For more information and to get on the DDATT email list: email@example.com or 277-4221
Abbott Library’s energy audit will reduce heating costs
On Thursday morning January 30, half a dozen local people from Dexter and surrounding towns watched and listened as Mike Bonney and Randy Bridges of Penquis CAP’s Housing and Energy Services performed an energy audit on the old Abbott Memorial Library Building.
Finished in 1894, the elegant brick structure was donated to the Town of Dexter by the Abbott family for its educational and social value. Little if any consideration to energy use was given then, when wood or coal was the major heating fuel, so insulation in the walls and ceilings and floors was not included. However, now that the cost of fuel is a major concern for the Library, finding ways to tighten up the old building’s shell is imperative.
Bonney informed the attentive group of homeowners that the first priority, and the biggest bang for the buck, is to reduce the heating requirement of the building by eliminating air leaks and insulation gaps. He and Bridges installed a big fan on the basement entrance door which, when turned on, blew air out of the building at such a rate that any small gaps in the exterior walls or ceiling (such as around poorly-sealed windows or chimneys) could be easily detected by holding a hand nearby, feeling the cold incoming air replacing the warm air being blown out.
An infrared camera can “look” into a wall or ceiling and determine where heat is retained by good insulation and where it’s escaping, something impossible for the human eye to do. The group peered into Bonney’s device as he scanned the interior of the Library, finding major uninsulated walls and gaps around windows, as well as surprisingly well-insulated basement zones (the result of some energy improvement work in the 1980’s and -90’s by the Library Board).
Some of the more adventurous climbed a ladder into the spacious attic with Bridges and Bonney as they checked the ceiling insulation levels and also the “chimney bypass”, one of the most common sources of air leaks in most homes, where a chimney goes through the ceiling and is not tightly sealed off with sheet metal to prevent warm air from ascending up alongside the chimney itself.
Librarian Liz Breault supplied Bonney with the heating oil and electricity data over the last seven years to provide a good annual average of the building’s energy use. Bonney will then condense the day’s tests and observations to write a report that will prioritize energy-saving actions based on highest dollar return on investment, so that the Library’s Board can have a much clearer idea of what to do when, and how much dollar and fuel savings can be expected.
Looking up at the beautiful high and arched ceiling, the lath and plaster interior walls, and the graceful windows surrounding the book cases, Bonney noted how difficult rehabilitating old buildings can be: “You want to increase the insulation values but don’t want to cover up unique architectural details.” A spirited discussion then followed about the costs of energy audits, which local contractors are most knowledgeable about following the energy audit’s recommendations, and innovative thoughts about how to pay for those improvements.
For more information on home energy audits and other housing programs, Mike Bonney can be reached at Penquis CAP (973-3500). Dexter Dover Area Towns in Transition (DDATT), this energy audit’s sponsor, gratefully uses the basement meeting rooms of the Library and wants to reduce the amount of fuel needed to heat those rooms, as a demonstration of investing in community buildings by reducing their energy requirements over the long term.
Unconventional method of grazing animals holds promise
Dexter Dover Area Towns in Transition (DDATT) sponsored its monthly discussion at the Abbott Library in Dexter on Friday Nov 1st. A brief recorded video talk by Allan Savory describing his controversial ideas about using large numbers of grazing and browsing animals to actually improve soil and forage health began the evening for the group of interested local citizens, who then discussed how Savory’s concepts actually work in practice on area pastures.
Savory calls his system Holistic Management, which attempts to reproduce the effects of large herds of animals constantly moving across the landscape. Fred Sherburne has been working with this concept on his Dexter dairy and beef farm for a few years now and reported to the group his successes and failures as he learns.
The “old” way of just fencing in a big field and turning cattle out for the summer is being replaced by a much more intensive system of fencing and herd-moving in response to the stages of grass and legume growth; the manager must pay much closer attention to the animals and the plants, but the effects on soil and animal health are great. Fred reports that over the decade that he’s been transitioning from “conventional” farming (“when Monsanto was in my back pocket all the time!”) to methods such as Savory’s, the organic matter content of his farm’s soil rose from 3 percent to 6 percent. Not only does increased soil organic matter improve soil’s capacity to grow better crops but it also captures and stores carbon from the atmosphere, helping to reduce the effects of burned fossil fuels on changing the planet’s climate.
Just as important, his input costs have fallen dramatically (not depending on buying fertilizers and pesticides and associated machinery). When asked why he switched to organic farming, Fred said “I got grandkids, and I had all those chemicals and poisons, and it made me real nervous”.
Jean Paul Calderone and Jericho Bicknell from Dover Foxcroft shared their small homestead experience with sheep, goats and chickens, using Holistic Management grazing techniques. Jean Paul calculated that to feed the entire population of Dover Foxcroft on a meat-based diet would take about 400 acres of good land under a Holistic Management system.
The importance of measuring energy inputs to food outputs was discussed as well, the group noting that a tomato grown on fertile well-balanced soil can have up to three times the nutrient content of a similar looking hothouse tomato that has been “fed” on chemical nutrients. Good soil is a community asset because it contributes to healthy crops, people and animals.
North Guilford farmer Dick Panciera agreed with Palmyra farmer Pegg Gannon that many “common sense” traits have been bred out of livestock over the past decades in favor of fast growth or good looks. Fred chimed in, saying that having animals that know how to take care of themselves is high on his list of desirable characteristics, and “Friendly is important!”.
DDaTT is a local organization dedicated to increasing the area’s natural resource productivity, especially in ways that improve our way of life and decrease dependence on imported fossil fuels. For more info, call 277-4221, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Is Rationing in Our Future?
Dexter Dover Area Towns in Transition (DDATT) sponsored a monthly discussion at the Abbott Library in Dexter on Friday Oct 11th, with the topic of “Rationing” attracting about 20 local citizens.
Ed Hummel of Garland began the session with a description of the last time the United States experienced rationing on a national basis, namely World War 2 and the pressures felt by the government then to harness the manufacturing and agricultural power of the country to the war effort. Only as a result of some large crisis does rationing become acceptable to the mass of the population.
Hummel noted that at that point the US was just emerging from a long Depression, and most people in the country were already familiar with having to make do with little, so rationing (limiting the personal consumption of certain items such as gasoline, rubber, butter, meat, sugar, etc. by the national government) was not a huge change in lifestyle. Since the end of that War and the relaxation of any rationing, however, the US economy has been centered on affluence, and the relatively unlimited accumulation of personal goods is commonly seen as a measure of social health.
In such an economic climate, any talk of restriction or rationing is difficult, to say the least. But Pegg Gannon from Palmyra observed that “It’s impossible for infinite economic growth to occur on a planet with finite resources”, prompting others to join in with concerns about our food system’s massive dependence on fossil fuels for fertilizer and tillage and transportation. We are fortunate to have plenty of water and good soil, but what will happen as the rest of the world population rises and weather-related events reduce food production elsewhere?
Many older people in the group remembered Dexter in the ‘40s, when there were 100 small farms still operating in town, and what the social fabric was then and how it has changed over the decades. Dexter’s Carol Feurtado gave a few examples of local farms and their contributions to the overall economy of the Town.
The group acknowledged that the main cause of civil unrest throughout human history and today is lack of food and unequal food distribution. Preparation to increase our local food production makes sense. Gannon noted that “more and more small gardens and farms are in the area. It’s easier to get good grass-fed beef, for instance, and farmer’s markets are springing up all around.”
In referring to the results of the materially based economic system we live in, Gerry Amelotte from Troy quipped “There are no U Hauls behind hearses!”. He also observed that the basics for human life are not only Food, Water, and Shelter, but also Community, that we are not individual consumer units, but rather parts of a larger community that functions best when we help each other instead of blind competition. “We Baby Boomers may have been responsible for some of the most consumption over the last 50 years, but we also can be leaders in showing how to reduce our consumption too, once we see what to do.”
DDaTT is a local organization dedicated to increasing the area’s natural resource productivity, especially in ways that improve our way of life and decrease dependence on imported fossil fuels. For more info, call 277-4221, or email email@example.com
Local Energy Expo Sept 28th
The Dexter Town Hall (on Hall Street) will reverberate with Energy on Saturday morning September 28th when the Local Energy Expo opens its doors from 9 to noon. The theme of the day is homeowner scaled electricity generation, but many other aspects of energy will also be represented.
For example: a discussion of the existing electrical power grid (how it works, what happens when one part fails, how it gets repaired, etc.); large artwork of how our use of electricity affects our community and resources; weather forecasting and its usefulness in short- and long-term preparation for storm related electrical outages; simple photovoltaic (PV) circuits for homeowners; information on reducing our houses’ energy consumptions by way of energy “audits”, insulation and tightening up infiltration points, and how to get available financial help from local and state agencies to do this work; using a solar oven to cook food, and solar panels to make hot water; some fun-for-the-family activities involving energy awareness; a discussion how to live off-grid; and more.
In the afternoon, a carpool caravan will visit three different small-scale photovoltaic house systems (in Dexter, Garland, and Pittsfield) to see some of the possibilities and challenges of generating electricity ourselves.
Dexter Dover Area Towns in Transition (DDATT) is the sponsor of this practial Energy Expo, which is free to the public (donations gratefully accepted). DDATT is a local organization dedicated to increasing the area’s natural resource productivity, especially in ways that improve our way of life and decrease dependence on imported fossil fuels.
There is still time to sign up to be a vendor for the Expo, and/or to get on the DDATT emailing list for all future events. Call 277-4221, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
What Do We Do When The Grid Goes Down?
On Saturday September 28th, the Dexter Dover Area Towns in Transition (DDATT) will sponsor a Practical Energy Expo to increase awareness of options available locally for generating homeowner-scale electricity, especially for those people who are just beginning to learn about renewable energy sources.
As more stresses are made on the common electrical power supply grid (the wires that carry electricity from distant generation sources) from more users and more powerful weather events, it makes sense to plan for more frequent and longer failures.
The day begins at 9:00 AM at the Town Hall in Dexter where information booths, workshops, vendors and other people interested in photovoltaics, wind power, water power, solar heating and reducing energy demand in general, can meet and informally exchange ideas and experiences.
A field trip tour to three different area homes will fill the afternoon. Participants will leave the Town Hall at 12:30 in their own vehicles (carpooling is encouraged), stopping first at an in-town Dexter house retrofitted by the owner with a small scale photovoltaic system system that produces electricity for household usage using a grid-tie inverter when the sun is up and battery backup power for when the sun is down.
Then to a more remote homestead site in Garland to look at a 12 volt off-grid photovoltaic system that generates 2.8 kilowatts. And the afternoon trip will end up in Pittsfield, where the electricity created on the roof of one house gets credited to multiple Central Maine Power accounts, as well as discussion of new versions of grid-tied inverters that can produce power when the grid is down (not working) but the sun is out.
The Practical Energy Expo is free to the public, with donations gratefully accepted. Dexter Dover Area Towns in Transition (DDATT) is a local organization dedicated to increasing the area’s natural resource productivity, especially in ways that decrease dependence on imported fossil fuels, and sponsors occasional workshops on these topics.
For more info, to sign up to be a vendor, and/or to get on the DDATT emailing list, call 277-4221, or email email@example.com
Needle in a Haystack?
Four scythe, rake and pitchfork enthusiasts gathered on Jericho Bicknell’s and Jean Paul Calderone’s small hayfield in Dover Foxcroft last Saturday and Sunday to experiment with making hay by hand, from start to finish.
Mowing with scythes into swathes is the first and most physically demanding step, so it’s done in the cool early morning while the grass is still wet with dew and easier to cut. After the mowing is over, the swathes are spread back out over the area using wooden hay rakes, so that the sun can begin drying the cut grasses. Later in the day, another pass over the drying grasses with the rakes helps expose any green stems and also fluffs the hay to allow any breezes to swirl in, around and under.
Depending on the heat and sun and wind and thickness of the grass, the hay may be ready by the end of the first day for gathering, but the group decided to wait another day to complete the process. So, Sunday morning after the dew was off, Jericho and Jean Paul re-raked the area into rows and then small piles. The rest of the crew gathered in the afternoon to fork the finished hay onto a rick, which is a simple wooden structure made to keep the hay off the ground when there’s no barn available, and is conveniently near the hayfield.
Sometimes the loose hay is difficult to keep neatly on the rick, so an occasional long thin wooden stick or “needle” is inserted to hold the recalcitrant stems together, hence the origin of the term “needle in a haystack”. Once the rick was completed, a small tarp laid across the top finished the haymaking, until Bicknell and Calderone feed it this winter to their sheep and goats.
This event happened out of curiousity about how did our ancestors actually get their hay made up and stored, back before tractors, mower-conditioners, tedders and balers, or even horse drawn sickle bar mowers and dump rakes.
Muscle power is a lot more tiring than using a motor, but as crew member Sam Brown said “My scythe runs on oatmeal”, a locally growable fuel. Without the noise of motors and working in close proximity to each other, the group could easily converse and get to know each other better, a pleasant and unexpected byproduct.
The small-scale haymaking group plans to meet early every Saturday morning for the rest of the summer at a different participant’s field to spend a few hours helping each other, and invites any other interested persons to join.
Dexter Dover Area Towns in Transition (DDATT), the East Sangerville Grange, and the Piscataquis County Soil and Water Conservation District are local organizations dedicated to increasing the area’s natural resource productivity, especially in ways that decrease dependence on imported fossil fuels, and sponsor occasional workshops on these topics.
For more info and to get on the DDATT emailing list, call 277-4221, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Can you prune apple trees in the Summer?
Heron Breen, an orchardist and apple specialist from St Albans, helped ten local fruit tree owners understand the fundamentals of how to grow the healthiest and most problem-free trees by starting with the right conditions early.
Taking advice from the fruit-growing experts of late 1800’s New England through various agricultural publications, Breen has acquired a fascinating perspective on how our current attitude towards agriculture in general and fruit trees in particular has changed as the population of the country moved away from rural areas over the past 120 years. Because most people today do not have much or any connection to the actual practices of food production, it’s not surprising that most people don’t understand the amount of planning and work that must go in to the successful planting project. “We buy a beat-up sapling at the nursery, plop it in a hole that’s too small for its roots, in a place where the water stands all year or else is on top of ledge, forget about it, and then wonder why it isn’t doing very well”, he observes from his many years of working at a nursery supply company. “If you wouldn’t put your garden there, don’t try to grow a fruit tree there.”
The Sunday July 7th workshop at the small orchard of Sam Brown in Cambridge was a followup to the April one on pruning and grafting, both of which were sponsored by Dexter Dover Area Towns in Transition (DDATT), as a part of its mission to encourage and educate local food growers and reduce energy use. Breen said that if you take care and time up front to prepare the soils, select the best stock, plant with care to the needs of the roots, keep the competitive plants and predators at bay, and understand the way fruit trees actually grow and respond to injury (such as pruning), a tree owner can exponentially improve production while reducing inputs.
Most current theories and practices on pruning tend to simplify the process, and they also recommend doing so only in times of tree dormancy, such as in the late Winter. But it turns out that Summer is an excellent time to work with the trees’ own growth and repair systems to achieve the desired results.
DDATT seeks to continue community learning and action about climate disruption, economic instability, and dependence on fossil fuels, and sponsors occasional workshops on these topics.
For more info and to get on the DDATT emailing list, call 277-4221, or email email@example.com
“Education” Discussed in Dexter: how well does it teach useful skills?
The May 3rd First Friday public discussion at Dexter’s Abbott Memorial Library attracted a small but lively collection of local residents concerned about how and what society deems important to teach to itself and its children.
Carol Fuertado of the Dexter Historical Society led the group through almost two centuries of Dexter’s educational organizing, how the first settlers eventually got time from scrambling to stay alive to think about teaching at least some of their kids how to read and write. The first teachers were the slightly older girls who’d learned the three R’s, could pass them on to the younger kids, and could possibly keep order in the one room schoolhouses.
By the 1850’s Dexter had 13 separate “districts”, each with its own one room schoolhouse and local jurisdiction. In 1876 a townwide school board took over the administration, beginning the consolidation of curriculum and calendar, and buying the books for students. The first High School graduated one student in 1879, but most kids quit when they were 13 to go to work, where On The Job Training on the farm or in the newly constructed factories was the major educating method of useful skills. But by the 1940’s as farming declined and the rural population dropped, most people attended High School.
Alyson Saunders then lent the group her perspective as a recent teacher at DRHS and her current work with the REACH project (which attempts to connect students with mentors in a community outside of school who can explore the student’s individual interests in more detail than could a classroom teacher). She expressed amazement at how fast educational theory and practice change in the past few decades, from tracking students based on aptitute testing, to less tracking (“mainstreaming” everyone in one classroom), to making some distinctions in Junior and Senior years for individual capacities.
A major concern of the discussion group was that our current system doesn’t have much opportunities built-in for older kids to teach younger kids on a regular basis. The segmentation of grades and the long bus rides to centralized large schools with large class size were also issues of worry for the group. Kids aren’t being trained to think, said some, but rather to learn only what’s for the next test.
Alyson noted that the social culture itself has radically changed in the last decade, aided by technology, media, global commerce and interactions. “What’s coming in is fundamentally different” for today’s youth than the culture of even the recent past, says she. This dynamic will affect teaching styles dramatically.
Some in the group thought that the rigor of an Educational Degree required to become a teacher in Maine is not high enough: “Cream rises”, said one participant referring to people with innate teaching skills reaching a high level of competence, to which another participant replied. “Yes, but so does scum!”.
The sponsor of the monthly discussions, Dexter Dover Area Towns in Transition (DDATT), seeks to continue community learning and action about climate disruption, economic instability, and dependence on fossil fuels.
Discussion group to consider “Education”: how well does it teach useful skills?
The May 3rd First Friday public discussion at Dexter’s Abbott Memorial Library will examine the role of “education” in passing along culturally important information and skills from generation to generation. As times change, how do we educate ourselves and our children?
At 7 PM a brief history of local education (both in and out of “school”) will begin the evening, followed by another brief explanation of current educational conditions, after which facilitated discussion evolves until 9.
Dexter Dover Area Towns in Transition (DDATT), as sponsor of these monthly discussions, emphasizes community learning about how climate disruption, economic instability, and dependence on fossil fuels can affect the area, and what we can do to make plans for “resiliency”. Education is a major part of this process, and DDATT invites anyone who has ideas or opinions on to come May 3rd to share them with friends and neighbors.
For more info, 277-4221 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Chainsaw safety class offered locally by MOFGA
An introductory chainsaw safety and directional felling class will be held on Saturday May 4th in Cambridge, sponsored by the Low Impact Forestry program of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Assn (MOFGA).
From 8:30a.m. – 4 p.m., this one-day course covers all the fundamentals of safe and effective chainsaw operation. Whether you are an aspiring logger, woodlot manager, or plan to use a chainsaw occasionally this course is invaluable. The chainsaw is an amazingly powerful tool, and without proper training and knowledge it can be a very dangerous tool. Work with our highly skilled instructors for the day and learn to use your chainsaw safely. Topics will include:
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Maintaining a safe chainsaw, Chainsaw mechanics, Directional felling technique – notch, bore cut, back strap, wedges, etc., Creating and implementing a felling plan, Scoring your stump.
This is a hands-on course. Some time will be spent learning safe chainsaw operation, reviewing safety, and reviewing maintenance. The majority of the course will be dedicated to practicing the skills. Students will each spend time felling, limbing, and bucking trees. All students are expected to provide a tuned saw, tools, PPE (steel toed boots, leg protection, hearing, eye and head protection) and gloves. Students should bring their own lunch and water for the day.
Fee is $50.00 per MOFGA member, $60 for non-members
contact MOFGA at 568-4142 to register
Water resource “ownership” discussed
“Water: Who ‘Owns’ It?” was the topic of the most recent First Friday Public Discussion at the Abbott Memorial Library in Dexter April 5th. A dozen area residents gathered to hear Carol Feurtado from the Dexter Historical Society describe water’s importance to the first settlers to Dexter, and its subsequent usefulness over the years. The East Branch of the Sebasticook falls nearly 150 feet from Wassookeag Lake to the bog below Fayscott, a steady 40 horsepower’s worth, enough to drive up to 16 different mills since the 1830’s. This natural feature was the main attraction for the Abbott brothers, who were wool manufacturers looking for a steady source of power for their mill.
Dexter Lake, as it was known at the time (“Wassookeag” came much later), is unique in the region for being a headwaters lake replenished by many strong spring sources and therefore not as sensitive to drought as other surface-water fed lakes or streams. Its limestone geology also provides for chemically neutral water, a major advantage for reducing the leaching effects of acids on pipes and other equipment.
Randy Webber, the supervisor of the Dexter Utility District which is responsible for the present management of Wassookeag and its outflows, explained to the group how lake water is now used, as well as a few harrowing experiences when the dam accidentally was breached or when major storms overcame human structures. He noted the DUD’s mandate to provide adequate flow to downstream users (such as the old woollen mill in Corinna), which sometimes interferes with keeping the Lake at an acceptable level for the surrounding camp owners. Webber didn’t know how far back any water use agreements began or even how they were documented, commenting that “It’s always just been done, maybe just by a handshake.”
“Ownership” of surface water and groundwater was then discussed, the former being well regulated by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, but the latter, being much more complex, less tangible and less understood, legally resides under the Absolute Dominion rule, which allows Maine landowners to “own” the groundwater that they can extract from their land, without regard for such extraction’s effect on neighboring properties.
Sangerville’s Rodney Haskell helped his father Bill’s well drilling business many years ago, moved to California for a spell, but is now back in the area. From his observations he warned the group that the rest of the world does not enjoy the same access to good water as do we in Central Maine, and that pressures will mount to move our water away.
Gordon Moore, chairman of the Piscataquis County Soil and Water Conservation District and a lifelong student of hydrology, noted that water-bottling companies look for gravelly subsurface rock formations because the ground water is much easier to remove there than from denser and less permeable soils. Garland resident Jim Bunn commented that his town is famous for its good gravel and water, and that it wouldn’t surprise him if water-bottling companies have already targeted the town’s aquifers for business reasons.
The group expressed concern that because we all have been trained to value dollars more than a healthy place to live, we may allow short term decisions for cash to damage the resources we take for granted. Webber and Haskell both urged DDATT (Dexter Dover Area Towns in Transition, the sponsor of the discussions) to continue and increase efforts to educate citizens about the value of their local water resources. “People don’t get too worried about it until it’s almost too late. We ought to take reasonable precautions to protect [the Town’s] water before consequences catch up with us,” said Haskell.
Apple Tree Pruning and Grafting Workshop a Success
Ten would-be apple-tree pruners and grafters gathered at Sam Brown’s orchard in Cambridge Saturday morning March 30th for a few hours of hands-on instruction by Heron Breen of St Albans. Breen has spent years learning the complex biology and agricultural implications of apple growing in Central Maine, and deftly conveyed many of the fruits of that experience to the small group, a task made even more pleasant by the gorgeous early Spring day out in the blue sky and bright sun.
The workshop, sponsored by Dexter Dover Area Towns in Transition (DDATT), attracted learners from West Corinth, Garland, Dover Foxcroft, Cambridge, St Albans and Dexter. “I never knew there could be so many things to consider!” commented Cambridge resident Carol Gardener, as Breen described the importance of understanding how a fruit tree grows and responds to injury (such as pruning branches) before doing any cutting. The pruner needs to know the difference between a fruiting bud and a branching bud.
Breen explained that dwarf, semi-dwarf, and standard rootstock trees available from nurseries each have positive and negative qualities for the apple grower. He prefers the standard rootstocks for their strength and longevity and superior adaptation to the local conditions; even though they take a few years longer to begin producing fruit than the dwarf and semi-dwarf rootstocks, they require significantly less pest control and other inputs over a much longer useful life.
Participants got to snip, clip, and saw various sized branches on a few trees in the young (13 year old) apple orchard, and then watched as Breen cleft-grafted small cuttings from one variety to the stem of another variety, as a demonstration of how to increase the numbers of different types of fruit in an orchard and improve the chances of pollination as well.
Since the first settlers in 1830’s started their own trees, apples have been a staple crop in the area, and promise to be an increasingly important food source for Maine and the rest of the Northeast as fuel costs for transportation rise, and food from out of the region becomes more expensive.
DDATT sponsors many workshops throughout the year, emphasizing food, energy, and local economics. The next one is Saturday, April 20, 10 to noon: “Building Healthy Soil” with Mark Guzzi of Peacemeal Farm in Dixmont at the Abbott Memorial Library, Dexter. Suggested donation $5.00 (free to seniors and youth) Sponsored by DDATT and the Abbott Memorial Library. Call 277-4221 or email@example.com for more information.
Our Lakes, Rivers and Wells: Who “owns” Water?
The April 5th 2013 session of the First Friday public discussions sponsored by Dexter Dover Area Towns in Transition (DDATT) will focus on “Who Owns our Water?”. At 7 PM the program begins with a brief overview of the Dexter and Dover Foxcroft region’s historical use of surface water to power local mills and farms, then a current assessment of how lakes, rivers, ponds, springs and wells affect our lives and economics, leading into a facilitated public discussion on all aspects of water rights, especially the complex issues of “ownership” of such an important resource.
The program will be held at the Abbott Memorial Library in Dexter until 9 PM.
The purpose of these monthly Discussions is to gather people together for mutual discussion and civil sharing of ideas on various subjects which affect us all. Call 277-4221 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Local Agriculture’s future discussed
About thirty area residents gathered at the East Sangerville Grange on Friday evening March 1 for a diverse local-foods potluck (such as roast turkey and rabbit, apple ciders, sauerkrauts, dried fruit, coleslaws, blueberry cobbler and buckwheat cake) before settling down to discuss the status of local food production itself.
Carol Feurtado from the Dexter Historical Society opened the evening’s program with a quick history of Dexter agriculture, as one town exemplifying what most of the regional towns experienced. Being a railroad terminus in 1868 did give Dexter a unique status for a while as a hub for agricultural exporting, where the many small farmers of the region could haul their products to sell. But soon that same railroad connection allowed imports from much larger and more productive farms out West, causing the smaller-scaled central Maine farms economic pain, a situation that continued up until very recently.
Wendy Russell, owner of Widdershins Farm in Dover Foxcroft and a member of the Maine Highlands Farmers, then related her perspective of current agriculture in the area to the group, citing the rise in consumer demand for knowing where their food comes from as a major change in the marketplace.
An open discussion followed, led by Linda Tisdale and Sam Brown of Dexter Dover Area Towns in Transition (DDATT), the sponsor of the monthly First Friday gatherings. Of the many issues raised, the underlying theme of farming as a way of life and a lifestyle choice more than an economic machine kept surfacing. Finding and encouraging those young people who want to farm was a major topic; connecting them with farmers who are near retirement was another. Consumers need be able more easily to buy local foods year round. Small farms and farming as the economic foundations for rural community needs reinforcement. Organic production methods use less imported energy per food unit than “conventional” methods.
Continuation of these agricultural discussions is slated for Saturday April 13th (9 am to noon) at the East Sangerville Grange’s “Cultivating Community: an Agricultural Resource Exchange” event. Contact email@example.com or call 564-7167 for more info.
DDATT’s next First Friday discussion will be 7 PM on April 5th at the Abbott Memorial Library in Dexter, with the topic of “Water: who controls our ground and surface water?” Call 277-4221 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Local Food Production: “What are opportunities and obstacles?”
The March 1st 2013 session of First Friday public discussions will focus on “Making Our Local Food Production Even Better”. From 7 to 9 PM a facilitated discussion will begin with a brief overview of the region’s agricultural history and current situation, then move to public input on ideas for improving local production and increasing economic resiliency.
The discussion will be held at the East Sangerville Grange hall, preceded by a local-food potluck supper starting at 6 PM beforehand so that all attendees can sample some of the midwinter foods available from local kitchens. The Grange has a fully equipped kitchen so bring something supper-ish to share if you wish.
Dexter Dover Area Towns in Transition (DDATT), sponsor of the First Friday discussions, is grateful to the Grange for hosting this event, as befits the Grange’s agricultural heritage in their beautiful historic hall in rural Sangerville.
The purpose of these monthly Discussions is to gather people together for mutual discussion and civil sharing of ideas on various subjects which affect us all. Call 277-4221 or email@example.com for more information.
Cash is not the only way to run an economy
About twenty local people attended the February 1st version of the monthly First Friday Discussions at the Abbott Memorial Library in Dexter, sponsored by the Dexter Dover Area Towns in Transition (DDATT).
Carol Feurtado, a Dexter resident and member of the Dexter Historical Society, began the evening with a short description of commerce throughout the town’s nearly two hundred years of existence. The first struggling young farming families shared their skills to make ends meet, then gradually as crops began to grow and more people moved in, various methods of trading became common, culminating in the eventual dominance of the Federal dollar and the monetary banking system that we use today (in 1868 the first bank in town was founded).
The idea of a Time Bank was then explained by Pat Myers of Dover Foxcroft. It’s a community service network, of neighbors helping neighbors, where everyone’s time is equal, an hour for an hour.
He is in the midst of creating a time bank in the Dover Foxcroft/Dexter area called JackDoesThat!, the motto of which might be “We do have what we need if we use what we have”. Everyone has something to offer and something they need.
A robust discussion followed these presentations. One recurring observation was the difficulty of trying to envision using hours instead of dollars to trade for services. Myers noted that a cash economy is based on scarcity (that there’s only a limited amount of dollars that people have), but an hour economy is based on abundance (that everyone has as much time as everyone else).
The concept of creating a local currency to be used in a town or other relatively small area also got some air time, as another method of keeping locally earned money in locally owned businesses.
Myers hopes to have JackDoesThat! up and fully running by May. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 564-8377 for more information on TimeBanking.
The next First Friday discussion will be March 1st, “Local Food Production”, and will be held at the East Sangerville Grange. For more information 277-4221 or email@example.com.
Re-Use Barn Plans Underway
A group of local citizens are planning to erect a Re-Use Barn at the Mid Maine Solid Waste (MMSW) facility on the Line Road between Corinna and Dexter.
It’s envisioned as a storage building for accepting and dispensing useable and clean items donated by the public (stuff that’s no longer wanted by its owner but too good to just toss).
The main goal is to reduce the amount of materials entering the landfill, thereby reducing costs to all the users of MMSW. But it will also be a good way of prolonging the life of many useful things.
Lots of details remain to be worked out, especially to determine if there’s enough volunteer support for staffing the Barn every Saturday during warm weather.
If you have interest in donating 2 to 3 hours of your time per month to help staff the Barn, or may be interested in helping with the actual construction, please contact Bev Crockett at 277-4221 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
AREA RESIDENTS GATHER FOR DDATT HEATING FORUM
Over twenty local residents gathered last Friday in Dexter’s Abbott Memorial Library to participate in a spirited First Friday discussion about home heating, sponsored by Dexter-Dover Area Towns in Transition (DDATT).
Ed Hummel, one of the DDATT organizers, began by defining the basics of energy, what it is, how it moves, and how to apply this knowledge when trying to heat our homes. A lively discussion ensued about practical solutions to actual heating and comfort problems. Woodstove setup and operation, chimney maintenance, catalytic converters, qualities and properties of various types of insulation (including snow), and firewood drying techniques were explored, whetting the participants’ appetite for a follow-up meeting soon.
DDATT sponsors a discussion group on the First Friday of every month at the Abbott Library on topics of community interest, to which everyone is welcome at no charge. A short introduction to the monthly
subject starts the meeting, followed by a moderated discussion. Light refreshments help keep everyone’s batteries charged during the evening.
The next First Friday, February 1 from 6 to 8 PM, will feature “Alternative Currencies,” innovative ideas on how can we reshape our local economy to use fewer dollars. We are “Skill Rich” but “Cash Poor.” Time Banks, local “dollars,” and barter will be considered.
DDATT is a group of local citizens helping develop food, energy, and economic systems that support a community moving from dependence on fossil fuels. email@example.com or 277-4221
Is Global Warming Real?
From 6 to 8 PM on the evening of Friday January 18th, Grant Foster will present a talk at the Abbott Memorial Library on recent climate research and its implications for our planet.
Foster, a resident of Garland, is an accomplished author who is about to publish a book on statistics written for non-mathematicians. He also runs the highly regarded OPEN MIND blog (under the name of Tamino), and has published important scientific papers in recent peer-reviewed journals, many of which have been cited by others doing climate research.
The presentation will cover planetary warming data in detail, showing why global temperatures have risen significantly and continue to do so, and explaining evidence that most or all of this observed warming is caused by human carbon emissions once all other possible factors are considered.
Dexter Dover Area Towns in Transition (DDATT) is sponsoring Foster’s program, as part of DDATT’s mission to help develop local food, energy, and economic systems that support a community moving from dependence on fossil fuels. Contact Ed Hummel 924-3836 (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.
Local Food and Candidate’s Night
On Saturday October 20, Dexter Dover Area Towns in Transition (DDATT) and the Dexter Unitarian Universalist Church will jointly sponsor a “Local Food Supper and Candidates Night” at the UU Church on Hall Street in Dexter.
DDATT is a group of local citizens concerned about how much we depend on oil and gas to run our economy and society, and are looking at ways to reduce that dependency. Local agriculture is a major part of that planning.
The Potluck meal will begin at 5:00 and end at 6:30 for cleanup to allow the Candidate’s Night to begin promptly at 7 PM.
Last February DDATT held the first local food supper, preparing many dishes for the dozens of attendees in the UU Church kitchen from food donated by many local growers and gardeners. This time the Supper will be potluck, to increase variety and reduce cleanup efforts. Anyone is welcome to bring a dish to share, with a goal of having at least 80 percent of the food grown within 25 miles of Dexter if possible. Contact Ed and Judy Hummel with any questions about the Supper (924-3836).
All candidates for any office listed on the ballots for November 2012 in the towns of Dexter and Dover Foxcroft are invited to attend the moderated evening program. Each candidate can bring informational materials for display before the program, and then will have up to 5 minutes to present his or her positions and then the floor will be open to questions from the audience. The program will end at 9 PM.
Jim Bunn of Garland will be the moderator. Contact him at 924-3925 with any questions about the Candidate’s Night.
2012-2-18 Press release
20 Local food producers contribute to community meal’s success
Over 60 area residents were well fed Saturday evening during the Dexter Winterfest activities, when they stopped into the basement of the UU church to enjoy the expansive buffet of mostly locally-grown and prepared foods. The UU church teamed up with Dexter Dover Area Towns in Transition (DDATT) to host the event, the intent of which was to highlight the variety and availability of regional food supply even in the midst of winter.
Jack Ferris, one of the many coodinators of the meal, said “We aimed for getting at least 80 percent of the food on the tables here tonight from local farmers and gardeners, and I think we’ve succeeded!”
Fresh and stored vegetables from Jerry Doxstader’s Dexter greenhouses, beef from Frank Spizuoco’s Ripley farm, apples aplenty in pies and fresh from Rollin’s Orchard in Garland, newly-baked bread from Dusty’s Crustys masonry oven in Cambridge, wild mushrooms picked and prepared from local woods and fields by Ram Das Singh, root crops from Checkerberry Farm in Parkman; these were just some of the wide array of contributions made by 20 producers to support the growing awareness of food supply in the region.
While auctioning off a five pound bag of garlic (generously donated to DDATT by Tom and Lois Roberts of Snakeroot Farm in Pittsfield), DDATT spokesperson Ed Hummel pointed out the increasing importance of “local” to the area’s economy, as transportation costs make long-distance food chains more and more expensive.
The festive first-time event was difficult to end, as many people stayed on to talk and share ideas while enjoying the many desserts and beverages made mostly from the hands of their neighbors. Based on this success, the UU church and DDATT promise that the Dexter-Dover will have more of these delicious and enjoyable meals.
DDATT Press Release
About thirty local people gathered at the Abbott Memorial Library in Dexter on January 6th to watch the movie “One Peace at A Time”, the latest in the monthly free film series offered over the past few years by Dexter Dover Area Towns in Transition (DDATT).
The movie’s theme, tackling big problems a little bit at a time, led to sparkling discussion afterwards, as the group enjoyed refreshments together and considered what actions could be taken locally to address some of the “big” problems the movie examined.
DDATT is a growing collection of people who, after becoming aware of these “big” global problems (like economic instability, and fossil energy, and climate, and education, and water, etc), are organizing local hands-on projects to increase the “bounce-back-ability” of the Dexter/Dover Foxcroft area, so that we aren’t so dependent on outside sources of energy or commerce.
Some of these current projects: monthly garden workshops (sharing local food-growing knowledge); swap meets and a free-cycling system (allowing good stuff to get used by someone else instead of just thrown away at the dump); community gardening and farming (giving people without garden space a chance to grow food); local currency (creating a new revenue stream that stays within our community); energy consumption (tightening up our buildings and using more local fuels); transportation (looking at ways to use our cars less).
Jack Ferris of Dexter, who recently volunteered to continue the film series, announced that the 7 PM February 3rd offering will be “Transition 1.0”, a brief history and update of the Transition Initiatives movement worldwide, followed by discussion.
Transition refers to the idea of moving from one place to another, in a planned and organized manner: instead of being surprised at the rising costs of fossil fuels, and at the changes in weather and climate, and at the tumbling economy, local groups can get started figuring out local ways to respond and thrive.
DDATT steering group member Sam Brown of Cambridge said “It’s important for us all to hear as many different perspectives as possible, because that’s where solutions will come from.” An open meeting preceding the Feb 3rd film will start at 6 PM, for anyone interested in Transition or its projects to learn and offer their input.
Contact email@example.com or 277-4221 for more information.