Northern New England Local Bread Wheat Project – Local Bread Wheat in Quebec

by  on Jun 1, 2011

Northern New England Local Bread Wheat project participants travel north of the border to see how Quebecois farmers, millers, and bakers are growing and using wheat.

Along with farmer/millers Jim Gerritsen and Matt Williams, researchers Ellen Mallory of UMaine and Heather Darby of Univ. of Vermont discuss what we learned. Agronomist Elisabeth Vachon explains her role connecting the Moulins de Soulanges mill with small farmers to improve bread wheat quality. Farmer Daniel Gosselin discusses how wheat fits on his farm, an organic dairy and artisan cheesemaking operation.

Northern New England Local Bread Wheat project participants travel north of the border to see how Quebecois farmers, millers, and bakers are growing and using wheat.

Along with farmer/millers Jim Gerritsen and Matt Williams, researchers Ellen Mallory of UMaine and Heather Darby of Univ. of Vermont discuss what we learned.

At La Meunerie Milanaise, proprietor Robert Beauchemin explains his operation, including grain testing and milling. Then, in Montreal, we tour Premiere Moisson, a bakery chain which is the major user of Quebec wheat.

Vermont After IRENE Looking Ahead to Sustainability

Hurricane Irene, who was down graded to a Tropical Storm, embraced Vermont on Sunday the 28th of August. The rain swelled the rivers over their banks; flooding downtowns, stranding many with road closures, destroying bridges, disintegrating mountain roads and taking down power lines leaving many without power. The 100 year flood plain is something that isn’t documented well enough nor heeded when it is.

In Permaculture observation is your number one “tool” and water is a key element to watch throughout the season and especially in instances like the flooding of Irene. In a sustainable whole system design, documented observations of waters movement through and over the land are invaluable.

We have issues in Vermont, with our many mountain rivers and streams that have very large river basins in comparison to their embankments. There are solutions to these issues, especially in our towns and cities, but these solution are extra investment. The short term prospectors could actually see this type of destruction as being beneficial, by having to rebuild roads and power grid etc. you boost the economy with federal funds and work. This is one of the grand issues of our times, Shortsightedness used as a tool for the Capitalist model of indefinite growth. Meaning it is more valuable to the capitalist market to make things that don’t last.

One of the largest design issues with flooding in populated areas is impermeable surfaces, namely asphalt. By not allowing water to penetrate into the soils it is collected and funneled from all these surfaces directly into the waterways, causing flash floods in the case of torrential rains. There are alternative materials like permeable asphalts but there are also innumerable ways the water can be diverted to areas where it will be used by “earth works” allowing it to peculate through the soils SLOWLY making its way to the streams and tributaries. One such system is called a Rain Garden, these can be installed in the middle of parking lots, the slope of the parking lot is such that it carries the water into the rain garden, instaed of heading right into the storm drains and culverts then directly into the waterways. There are many methods of “Dynamic Water Harvesting” which are the methods we need to implement.

Designing Rain Gardens PDF

In theory, approximately 0.62 gallons can be collect per square foot of surface area to every inch of rainfall. Lets take a 10×10 surface of asphalt  in the case of Irene’s 11 inch of rain, it collected 682 Gallons. This gives you an idea of how much water we are diverting directly into the waterways.

For more information – rain water harvesting manual PDF

Why is this such an important factor in designing our cities and towns? A number of reasons, human safety, saving costs on repairs and environmental damage through pollution are just a few. Our sewage treatment systems and storm water systems are a large issue in this design flaw where flooding is concerned. I am not an engineer and don’t claim I have all the solutions, what I am saying, is there is a need for Foresight in our design process through observation and implementation of proven methodologies.

This is an important part of being sustainable. If we require millions of dollars in Federal aid every time a 100 year flood happens (which could become every year), we are far from sustainable. I see this investment in town designing for longterm resiliency to weather just as important as renewable energy production in this age of climate shift. Mapping the flood zones, river basins, and town rain water surface collection and its course through the watershed is the first step. Now is a great time to gather this invaluable information, so we can put it to use in our future designs. If we just rebuild and repair everything returning it to the way it was, this level of damage will ultimately happen again.

Here is a video that describes the issue and some of solutions.

Vermont Aid: A guide to flood-relief help for Vermonters

A Vacationless Summer for Vermont Youth 2012? UPDATED

The trend of Public education seems to be yet another modern day battle of “David and Goliath”. On one hand there is a grassroots movement for “progressive education” and on the other the Capitalist push for privatization, standardized; test and evaluation methods.

The following excerpt from a UVM article on John Dewey illustrates what I mean by progressive education)

During most of the twentieth century, the term “progressive education” has been used to describe ideas and practices that aim to make schools more effective agencies of a democratic society. Although there are numerous differences of style and emphasis among progressive educators, they share the conviction that democracy means active participation by all citizens in social, political and economic decisions that will affect their lives. The education of engaged citizens, according to this perspective, involves two essential elements: (1). Respect for diversity, meaning that each individual should be recognized for his or her own abilities, interests, ideas, needs, and cultural identity, and (2). the development of critical, socially engaged intelligence, which enables individuals to understand and participate effectively in the affairs of their community in a collaborative effort to achieve a common good. These elements of progressive education have been termed “child-centered” and “social reconstructionist” approaches, and while in extreme forms they have sometimes been separated, in the thought of John Dewey and other major theorists they are seen as being necessarily related to each other.

Corporations don’t want to have, graduate class after graduate class, of open minded, problem solving, civic savvy, capable individuals that can enter into society and bring about systemic change. This would compromise their choke hold on public interest. There is another schooling approach sweeping the Globe “The Continuous School Year” Here is a an excerpt from a VPR  article. 08/26/11

(Host) As the new school year begins in many parts of Vermont, Education Commissioner Armando Vilaseca questions why the state continues to maintain “an outdated school calendar.”

As VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports, the commissioner thinks doing away with a long summer vacation would be good for many students.

(Kinzel) It’s an idea that’s being tried out in several parts of the country. Instead of having a ten week summer vacation, students would attend school on a year round basis with several smaller breaks.

Education commissioner Armando Vilaseca thinks this approach makes a lot of sense.

To say that, the only reason we still have a long summer break is because of our agrarian past and it holds no relevance today, is a joke. Most people I know say, they have learned more outside of the classroom than in it. For many people, these years of schooling are the most traumatic years of their life. Summer provides time for the youth to experience different dynamics of social interaction, like camp, family outings, staying with friend’s families, traveling to other countries and being exposed to completely different cultures. The list is infinite, for me it was the one time of  the year I got to travel to the other side of the country to spend a solid 2 months with my father. To take away Summer Vacation would be one of the worst structural changes we could make.

School is good and there are many ways we can improve the system for future generations, this is NOT one of them.

But, if you wanted an android work force, who is callous and indifferent because they have no experience of freedom or self-will, than this would be your best move.  “8 weeks on 2 weeks off”. This would be a crisis for the future generations, there is no doubt in my mind. Get involved and voice you opinion, Public Schools are one of the most important shaping force of our Society.

We need; Bright, Inquisitive, Curious, Self Confident, Self Directing, Expressive, Inspired,  Liberated, Fearless youth, if we want a brighter future.

Update: 8/28 I just saw Democracy Now did an piece on this issue.

Green Jobs For Vermont – Sierra Club

From VT Sierra Club – A healthy climate and a healthy economy are key parts of a healthy, sustainable Vermont. As we build our renewable energy future, we need to make sure that we are also creating livable wage jobs for Vermont families. 

Please join us in working with the Governor and the Public Service Board to mandate that Certificates of Public Good should only be issued for renewable energy projects when the developer agrees to hire local, and pay family sustainable wages with benefits.

Whenever a wind farm is built, whenever a large solar complex is erected, whenever a biomass installation is constructed, we need to know that these construction and continuing maintenance jobs are in fact Vermont jobs; the kind that pay liveable wages and provide good benefits.

Take action –

To answer brutality with brutality is to admit one’s moral and intellectual bankrupcy

Life…. It is The one “thing” truly precious upon this Earthly plane. To embody and broadcast Life’s “will” requires the selfless offering of ourselves. Universe, make me an instrument of your Love help me to demonstrate the creation and existence of a better world.

By having a Non-Violent and uncompromising resolve to following the Golden Rule, we will see Eden where dissolution was perennial. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

As fallible as each one of us may be, our True nature is unaffected, as we increase our desire to live and create a world  in harmony and Peace, the functional Civil Society we dream of unfolds. Standing in the face of indignity and greed with compassion, will evaporate them like dew in morning sun. Including the views and opinions of our own selves.

Are we truly separate? Can life be divided and held in an isolated vacuum? What is our common bond? The thread that holds Life together….

Is it truly the most ruthless and evasive Genes that are the chosen genetics of Nature? Is the present barbaric hostility of global politics the direction of our evolution?

We can do Better!