Learn Sustainable Garden & Water Management Practices @ UW Botanic Center Classes

UW Botanic GardenLandscape for Life™ demystifies sustainability for home gardeners

The University of Washington Botanic Gardens is hosting four Thursday evening classes on sustainable garden practices and water management.  The classes are on Thursday, September 25  through October 16, and start at 6:30 pm and end at 9:00 pm.

Are you a homeowner who wants to create and maintain your own healthy, sustainable landscape? Through instructor-led presentations, class discussions, and activities, you will deepen your understanding of how to get the most out of water in your garden, how to build healthy soils with minimal outside inputs, how to use native and climate-adapted plants for the Pacific Northwest, and how to find the most environmentally-friendly landscape materials. Students will analyze their own home landscape focusing on soils, water, plants, and use of materials. Landscape for LifeTM was developed by the US Botanical Garden and Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center to the University of Texas in Austin.

There is a cost, $125 before September 19, and $150 after. You can Register Online or call 206-685-8033 to register.

The classes will be taught by instructor Barbara DeCaro, a horticulturist working for Seattle Parks and Recreation. She develops best practices for managing public landscapes and provides training programs in landscape management for parks staff. She is a certified Instructor for Landscape for LifeTM and also develops teaching materials and provides instruction for the landscape industry in the ecoPRO – Sustainable Landscape Professional Program. Barbara is a life-long gardener and life-long learner, with over 40 years working in public gardens and landscapes.[mappress mapid=”539″]

Annual SWS Picnic: Eat, Enjoy Community Orchard, Learn, Drink, Socialize, Share

COWs-overviewCome see what were up to. The Sustainable West Seattle annual picnic is Thursday August 21st.

This year the picnic will be held at the Community Orchard of West Seattle.  The Community Orchard is a project of SWS and is located on the South Seattle College campus at the north end adjacent to the Horticulture Center.

Start time for the picnic is 6:00pm and will continue until 9:00 pm.

The address is 6000 16th Ave. SW, use the North Entrance to the college campus and then head east toward the orchard and greenbelt area.  Bus access is through Metro Routes 125 and 128. Buses stop at the central entrance to the college.  You will need to walk to the northern end, which is about a 5 minute walk.

Come tour the orchard, hike through the arboretum, press some apples for cider and blend some smoothies on a pedal powered blender.

Bring chairs, reusable or compostable plates and utensils and a main dish or salad to share or something to throw on the grill. We will provide charcoal grills, tables, drinks and musical entertainment.

This is an after-hours weekday event, we hope to see you there!

Delridge Grocery Coop Launches Fresh Fruits & Vegetables Farmstand

DelridgeGroceryWebLogoThe Delridge Grocery Coop has exciting news to announce: The Friday Farmstand launches this week!

Finally – fresh, local, sustainable fruits and vegetables in Delridge.

Come by every Friday all summer from 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm at 5435 Delridge Way SW.  This is two doors south of the library, and across the street from Delridge Grocery Coop’s future full-service grocery location.

Celebrate the launch this Friday, July 18th, with free lemonade at the farmstand, and a fun comedy event afterwards from 8-12 at the Skylark Cafe.

  • Want to be more involved? 
  • Volunteer and take home free produce!

Help run the produce stand and take home some leftovers! It’s easy and fun, and we’ll provide training.

Sign up for volunteer shifts online

Join the Canning Club!

Do you like canning pickles and jams to save for the winter? Join Friday Farmstand Canning Club and get first crack and discount prices on bulk quantities of leftover produce!

To sign up, email Farmstand Manager Ariana at taylorstanley@gmail.com with your name and phone number. You must be available to pick-up produce after the farmstand, at 7:30 pm on Fridays.

Need a lesson in canning? Check out offerings from Seattle Tilth or Delridge’s own Little Red Hen Project.

Help the Delridge Grocery Coop Spread the word!

They need lots of word-of-mouth marketing to make this farmstand a success! How you can help:

For more information contact Ariana Taylor-Stanley, Farmstand Manager, at 206-660-8958, or by email at

taylorstanley@gmail.com.

Energy Blog: World of Tomorrow-2047: Earth & Mars On Different Paths

In a Climate Changed World: Chapter 3 – By Andy Silber
August 24th, 2047
ICE3 Station, Greenland

Greenland harborToday the ship has come to pick us up. For over two decades I’ve been here keeping the glaciers from flowing into the ocean. The press release talked about the cost and better ways to spend our resources, but we know the real reason. Once the rains came, it was hopeless. At first we only had to deal with the melting ice and refreeze whatever made it to the ground. That we could do and keep the water from lubricating the glaciers and speeding their path to the ocean. Once a year or so, a pipe would break and need to be replaced. Once the rains came, we could only turn the water to slush, which lubricated the ice and there was nothing we could do to slow the inevitable march to the sea. Now our pipes are breaking every month. It’s just a matter of years, maybe a decade, until Greenland is ice free. It actually doesn’t matter whether the ice melts or not. Once it is floating, rather than resting on land, the seas go up.

It seems like it was a lifetime ago that I was in the NOAA Corp and I told one of the researchers I was interested in glaciers. He suggested I volunteer for the Greenland Ice Dam project. I was here when the power line came in from Iceland, when the drilling started, when the fusion reactor went online. I’m the only one left from those early days. I’ve spent half of the last 20 years on this rock, 10 days on, 10 days off.

[see author’s note at end][Read Chapter 2][read Chapter 4]

After growing up in Akron, who would have imagined I would have spent half my adult life in Greenland and the other half in Iceland. I’m not quite ready to retire, but I’ve been too busy to think about what’s next. Maybe I’ll make up for being away from my wife, Emelía, and stay home and putter in the garden. I could write a book about the history of the ice dams, in the spirit of “My Life in Kenya” by Lionel Hardcastle. Sara is in college in Rejevik and Aron is busy on his aqua farm, so it would be quiet, but not as quiet as Greenland.

When the fish stocks crashed, Iceland was one of the most impacted countries in the world. Only 1% of the country is arable, so much of the food has always come from the sea. Modern sea farming was born in Iceland, out of necessity. Aron loves tending his kelp and sea grass and harvesting the fish who live there. Fishing has become like raising cattle or sheep: tend the land; harvest the animal. One funny thing is Iceland is one of the few places where our accessible land is increasing. Rising sea levels have been compensated by melting glaciers. Of course, none of that land is suitable for farming: it’s just rock that’s scraped clean of anything resembling soil.aquaculture

Maybe the ice dams have bought us enough time. Dikes have been built, people have migrated uphill or inland. The glaciologists estimate that the ice dams bought us at least five years and maybe ten. That sounds like a good investment to me. Now that the glaciers are moving.

At least a boat came to pick us up. When the MEP closed up shop, we left the Martians on Mars. The terraforming is going well, so maybe that’s for the best. Once a week they broadcast a status report and it’s the highlight of my week. I guess I connect with them, since we’re both on a barren, isolated rock. The difference is I get to go home to the “lushness” of Iceland every month. On Mars the algae is doing well, the asteroids continue to bring them water and there’s even a patch of grass thriving in Ylla. You can’t walk around without a rebreather, but they have hope. The population was 8,500 when the Ark stopped coming, now it’s 9,200. Those children are the real Martians; the ones who have never lived on Earth. They’ve even started building things that they can no longer count on getting from Earth. Raw materials will be the easy part: they’ve already sampled the meteorites from the terraforming effort and they’ve got enough metals, including rare-earth metals, to keep them busy for generations.

I can’t help but feel that the closing of MEP is part of a bigger, scarier development. The progress of civilization has been about an expanding sense of Us as opposed to Them. First it was family, then clan, village, town, city, country. The Mars Exploration Program was the ultimate realization of that: every country in the world sent people to Mars, expanding Us to including not only everyone on Earth, but also everyone on Mars. I believe that this was the pinnacle of human civilization. Since then it’s been nothing but contraction. International trade has dropped, since many ports have shut down due to the rising sea level. Travel is less common, both because of cost and fear of spreading diseases. Our focus has turned inward and it seems to become more closed every year.

The harvesting of the northern bogs for fertilizer has reduced the fires and been used to halt the desertification that was happening as rain patterns shifted and the globe heated. It’s slow going, but it has already reduced the fires enough that atmospheric CO2 levels have started to drop for the first time in about 250 years. At this rate, in 30 years we’ll be back down to 400 ppm.

Irish bog farmingOur ship is in port. All of the critical materials have been loaded on board. Most everything is being left behind. The fusion reactors have been decommissioned and we’re running just on the HVDC line from Iceland. Given my veteran status, I’ve been given the dubious honor of throwing the switch that turns everything remaining off. It’s like pulling the plug on the life-support on a loved one: it’s painful, but you know that the time has come and it’s the right thing to do. Good-bye old friend.

I’m trying something different than my previous blog posts here. Rather than describing current technologies or policy questions or what I think we should do, here I’m delving into speculative fiction: what do I think might be in store for us if we continue on our current path. This is definitely not a best case scenario, but I don’t believe it’s the worst case either. On a scale of 1 (your grandchildren are going to live in a world that resembles “The Road” ) and 10 (Technology will save the day and it’s not too late), I’d probably give this a … now that would be a spoiler. 

I’m writing this in installments in the spirit of Dickens and Bradbury’s “The Martian Chronicles”. Unlike them, I’m not a great writer, so I don’t expect to win a Nobel, Pulitzer, Hugo or a Newbery. But maybe this will be made into a mini-series on SyFy. Also, for fans of classic science fiction, I’ve thrown in some references or out-right theft. 

I hope you enjoy the first piece of fiction that I’ve written that wasn’t assigned in school. – Andy Silber

Energy Blog: World of Tomorrow-2035: Terraforming and Colonizing Mars

In a Climate Changed World: Chapter 2 – By Andy Silber
September 11th, 2035
Space City, New Mexico

Orion_docked_to_Mars_Transfer_VehicleI take my last breath of REAL air. Sure, I’ll still be breathing nitrogen, oxygen and trace amounts of most everything else. Eventually it will be made by plants. Or we all die. But never again will I breathe “Earth air”. Never again to see an Earth sunrise or sunset or an ocean. I doubt I’ll even see a lake, but there is some hope for that.

I board the space plane to take us to our home for the next 6 months. The Martian Exploration Program (MEP) calls it the Orbital Transfer Vehicle, but everyone else calls it The Ark. But no animals, though later trips will be bringing eggs and maybe even live animals. Just humans for now, 2 by 2. Mating pairs. Chosen based on our skills, genetic makeup, diversity yada, yada, yada. Oh yeah, political connections and money don’t hurt. We’re supposed to be the best of the best, but many of the most impressive people in the training program just disappeared. One day they’re part of the program, the next they’re gone.

[see author’s note at end][read Chapter 1][Read Chapter 3]
It is amazing how quickly this all happened. When the northern bog fires started in 2027, we all realized how bad things were going to get. We cut CO2 emissions to near zero, but the atmospheric levels didn’t drop. If we put out the fires, then we’d get methane, which is worse, so we let them burn. But the more they burn, the warmer they get, the more the methane thaws and the more the world heats.

Then the jellyfish took over the oceans. Fish stocks collapsed. The GMO kelp and plankton has reversed the trend, so we’re not going to suffocate. The kelp is processed into something resembling chewy tofu called MariFu, which is only a slightly better name than what everyone calls it: Soylent Green. The pH levels in the ocean are slowly returning to normal and we are all hopeful that healthy oceans will return. But for now, the oceans have stopped absorbing CO2. That’s part of the reason atmospheric levels aren’t dropping.NA with ice melted

Ever since humans finished colonizing Earth we have dreamt of moving to Mars. Venus is too hot, the Moon too small, but Mars, there’s hope there. We just have to terraform it: create an atmosphere we can breathe, or at least walk around in short sleeves. The CO2 that has caused such wreckage on Earth would be perfect for the job. Too bad we can’t just carry half of our atmospheric CO2 and methane with us.

Then someone had a brilliant idea. We were already mining asteroids for precious metals; how about water, a powerful greenhouse gas, for Mars. We might get some methane as well. A robot fleet was sent out to the asteroid belt to nudge icy planetoids onto a collision course with the Red planet. Three have already struck and two more should hit before we land. The humidity in the air has increased from near zero to that of Antarctica in the winter, the lowest found on Earth. By the time we arrive, it should be close to Katmandu in the winter. Still no oxygen, but warmer nights and more comfortable “space suits”. From this point on, the meteors will all strike on the unpopulated side of the planet. Some day we might want to mine the minerals from them, but for now we’re just happy to have the water.

Our settlement is named Ylla, though some of the geekier among us call it Terminus. They’ll be 500 of us living in temporary structures while we dig a more permanent home. That’s what I’ll be working on. I think troglodytes might be a better name for us than astronauts. The Martian rock will protect us from the cold and radiation. Since Mars has no magnetic field and a thinner atmosphere than Earth, the surface gets much more particle radiation from the Sun than Earth.

There is lab equipment, shelter, food, water and fusion reactors there already. Solar power isn’t great on Mars since the solar irradiance is one-quarter of Earth’s. We’re bringing enough fuel for 30 years with us. By then we should figure out how to get more locally.

TerraformedMarsGlobeRealisticOur underground village will have greenhouses for air and food and to treat our sewage, research labs, bedrooms, communal kitchens, and a medical clinic. It will also have a nursery. No kids for now, but once our warren is complete, we’re expected to breed.

I’m not sure how I feel about raising kids in a cave, but I know I don’t want to do it here. Over the last 10 years people have been moving to higher ground. Refuges are everywhere. Some places are pretty horrible, like the mountains between Bangladesh and India or Egypt. The most interesting are the 2nd wave Afrikaans, refuges from The Netherlands welcomed to South Africa by the black government: one side gets capital and highly educated workers; the other a home above sea level. Since the US has large amounts of land above sea level, we’re doing OK, but the maps look funny with Florida missing. The food system is highly stressed. The North American breadbasket has moved north, the Sahara desert has expanded south. Scotland is an up and coming wine region, though the melt from Greenland is weakening the Gulf Stream and that is likely to reverse to warming trend in Europe.

Once our village is complete, we start working on the home for the next wave. The plan is 500 more colonists every year, until…who knows. An interesting thing we’re bringing is a constitution. For the first five years we’ll be run like a forward operating military base with command being MEP headquarters in Lima. For the following five years we transition to self-rule and a Parliamentary system with a preferential voting system. It’s assumed that at some point we’ll have to be totally self-sufficient, no one knows when.

A critical mission is figuring out something, probably a GMO algae, that can live on Mars and make oxygen. That’s where my wife, the biologist, comes in. She was part of the team that worked on the GMO plankton. I know she’s why we’re on this ship. The hope is they can create one that can spread across the globe and form the basis of an ecosystem. Then they’ll focus on something that can eat the algae plus other plants. I’m hoping we quickly get to a grass or something a cow can eat, because I’m not wild about the idea of being a vegetarian for the rest of my life.Blue-green_algae_cultured_in_specific_media
Dam safety briefing. You’d think after 18 months in the training program we could skip the safety briefing. Has anyone in a space plane every used their seat as a floatation device. We’re taking off from New Mexico and headed east. By the time we’ve over a body of water bigger than a pool, we’ll be10 miles up and moving at Mach 3. Time to buckle up and head to our new home.

I’m trying something different than my previous blog posts here. Rather than describing current technologies or policy questions or what I think we should do, here I’m delving into speculative fiction: what do I think might be in store for us if we continue on our current path. This is definitely not a best case scenario, but I don’t believe it’s the worst case either. On a scale of 1 (your grandchildren are going to live in a world that resembles “The Road” ) and 10 (Technology will save the day and it’s not too late), I’d probably give this a … now that would be a spoiler. 

I’m writing this in installments in the spirit of Dickens and Bradbury’s “The Martian Chronicles”. Unlike them, I’m not a great writer, so I don’t expect to win a Nobel, Pulitzer, Hugo or a Newbery. But maybe this will be made into a mini-series on SyFy. Also, for fans of classic science fiction, I’ve thrown in some references or out-right theft. 

I hope you enjoy the first piece of fiction that I’ve written that wasn’t assigned in school. – Andy Silber

Help Kick Off Volunteer Weekend: May Day in Garden, DIY Bike Repair in High Gear

Get ready for a long and prosperous growing season. Start by building your soil. This week at COWS, (Community Orchard of West Seattle) we will be showing how to build rich and lasting soil beds using the lasagna garden method. The lasagna garden method is a layered approach to soil building using stuff you already have. This May Day edition of our usual Thursday Health and Harvest starts at 5:00 pm with the soil building class between 5 and 6:00 pm. 
The Community Orchard of West Seattle is located at the north end of the South Seattle College campus, 6000 16th Ave. S.W.  For more information, contact Stu at alkistu@hotmail.com, or visit the website  at www.fruitinwestseattle.org.

And, to continue through the weekend, DIY Bikes will be starting their non profit repair facility at the West Seattle Tool Library this Sunday May 4th from noon to 4:00 pm. This schedule will continue each Sunday through out the summer months.

DIY Bikes continues to teach anyone how to keep their bicycles running smooth and safe by using hands-on repair sessions. The tools, materials, facility and knowledge are all free. Major parts replacement for a particular bike may have a necessary pricing element,  and, as always donations are accepted.

Learn-Fix-Ride. See more at www.diybikes.org

DIY Bikes also will be doing bike repair and bike repair teaching at Alki Summer Streets, May 18th.

2014 GreenLife Application Now Available

GreenLife RegistrationSustainable West Seattle and the West Seattle Junction Association are pleased to announce that the application for the 2014 GreenLife section of West Seattle Summer Fest is now available online:  https://oliverlittle.wufoo.com/forms/greenlife-2014-registration-form/

The mission of GreenLife is to to raise awareness and equip our community with tools, knowledge and capabilities to create a more sustainable West Seattle. We are looking for local businesses to showcase merchandise, products and services related to these goals.

Organizations, including many local non-profits, contributing to this Expo will provide information, demonstrations and products in these areas:

  • Home gardens – grow your own food, capture your rain water
  • Composting – how to do it in your kitchen or yard
  • Permaculture – what is it and how your garden can be sustainable
  • Bee keeping and honey – how to raise a hive and harvest the honey
  • Backyard chickens – learn how to raise and keep them
  • Community fruit harvesting – learn how you can help the Food Banks
  • Puget Sound and local streams – learn how you can help clean them up

The application requires a $20 application fee. The tabling cost is $250 for commercial vendors and $75 for non-profit vendors. The application deadline is April 15th, but we usually fill up prior to this date so get your application in early.

Please contact Christina Hahs at christina.hahs@gmail.com or 360-269-0332 with questions.

Seattle Public Library Featuring Edible Garden Classes @ Variety of Library Sites

SPL Edible Garden logoJoin the Seattle Public Library in April and May for classes in gardening, composting, beekeeping and urban gardens. The Edible Garden Series includes events and presentations for all ages on edible gardening, food advocacy, and sustainability at locations around the city.

The first several classes are listed below, click here for the complete schedule of classes.

Edible Garden Series Kickoff

  • Saturday, April 5, 10:00 am to 3:00 pm
  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center
    • 440 Fifth Ave. N.
  • Get your gardening and food questions answered! Help kick off the Library’s Edible Garden Series at the Gates Foundation’s “Food for Good” event.

Choosing the Right Home Composting System for You

  • Saturday, April 5, 1:30 pm to 3:00 pm
  • Beacon Hill Branch
  • Want to compost food and yard waste at home but don’t know where to start? Let the experts at Seattle Tilth help you get started

Composting for Apartment Dwellers

  • Thursday, April 10, 2014, 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm
  • Central Library
  • Have limited space, but want to recycle your food scraps into rich compost? Come see how easy it is to get started composting in your apartment or condo.

Update on Friends of Seattle Public Library Used Book Sale:

Since 1997 Friends of The Seattle Public Library Book Sale operations has been located at Warren G. Magnuson Park. In late 2012, their book sale operations needed to move out of Building 30 at Magnuson Park so that structural renovations could be made to the building. They’ve since relocated to 2015 9th Ave., Seattle – the floor above the Washington Talking Book & Braille Library on the corner of 9th Ave. & Lenora St.

As you can imagine, moving materials and setting up for a sale is a bit more challenging now that they’re not located in the same building as the hangar. In 2013, Friends of Seattle Public Library held two small sales at the North Seattle Community College in the spring and went back to Magnuson Park in September to put on their Big Fall Book Sale.

This year, they will continue to have their Big Fall Book Sale at Magnuson Park, and a one-day holiday sale at North Seattle Community College, with a goal of going back to a Spring and Fall Sale at Magnuson Park in 2015. There will be no spring sale this year. If you have any suggestions, questions, or comments, feel free to contact Alice Springer, Book Sale and Administrative Director, at  alice@friendsofspl.org.

Seattle Office of Sustainability Announces 2 Grant Opportunities, Seeks Panelists

Have a great idea to help catalyze climate action in your community? Seattle’s Office of Sustainability & Environment wants to hear from you! The Office of Sustainability & Environment is interested in supporting innovative projects that engage residents in reducing climate change.

There area 2 opportunities for support in 2014

  • Community Climate Project 
    • Provides up to $10,000 for projects that address climate action choices in the following categories:
      • Home Energy Use
      • Getting Around
      • Food Choices
      • Buying Stuff
      • Waste
    • Application deadline is Tuesday, April 22, 2014
  • Small Climate Project 
    • Provides up to $500 to support one-time climate focused special events or education & outreach initiatives
    • Applications accepted year-round

For more information,  including project application forms, see the Community Climate Projects webpage.

The department also wants to hear from anyone who wants to participate in project review panel. They are seeking volunteers who wish to participate in the evaluation of  project proposals. The approximate time commitment will be 10 to 20 hours between April 23 and May 7.  Those interested in serving on the review panel can download an application here.

Community Orchard Now Open for Work Parties, Team Also Answers Food, Gardening, Permaculture Questions

COWSThe 2014 Season of Beauty and Community Begins at the Orchard! Join your neighbors and colleagues and fellow urban farmers every Thursday starting this week, March 13, at the Community Orchard of West Seattle, starting at 5:00 pm and lasting through 7:00 pm.

Please consider COWS when deciding your volunteer plans for this year. Join us for the start of the growing season at our huge urban garden and orchard!  It’s time to prune trees and berry bushes, and develop ideal individual soil preparations for each crop to be planted.

Questions on urban gardening, permaculture techniques, or your own problem plants are our specialty and are more than welcome! We hope to see you there!  The Community Orchard of West Seattle is located at the east end of the parking lot adjacent to the Horticulture Center, north end of the campus at South Seattle Community College.

What is Community Orchard of West Seattle?

Community Orchard of West Seattle (COWS) provides a home-scale model that demonstrates how much food can be grown on a city-sized lot. Our produce goes to our volunteers, neighbors and local food security programs while we provide a venue for public agricultural education and community gathering. Using permaculture and organic growing principles, COWS demonstrates several different kinds of non-standard orchard techniques and garden configurations – most of which are based on no-till, polyculture, low-maintenance sustainable food production strategies.

They meet every Thursday from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm – possible now that Daylight Savings Time has finally arrived!!