Earth Day: Reduce, reuse, recycle, replenish, restoreEarth Day is a good time to reflect upon how far we have come in protecting the environment since the first Earth Day in 1970, but also how far we have yet to go to save the planet in the face of global change.
Here at Smith Rock Farm, we try to do our part. We irrigate our hayfield, vegetable garden and xeriscaped landscape with efficient systems.
We have a permeable gravel driveway and green-built solar home. This was a considerable extra expense back in 2006 when we built, but prices for some of these materials have come down as they have become more widely used.
We have grid-tied solar panels that produce 100% of what we need; when we produce extra we are a supplier of green energy to the power company. Thanks to state and federal tax incentives and the Oregon Energy Trust, our investment in solar will be repaid four years from now. From then on our electricity is essentially free.
We have Dark Sky outdoor lighting to prevent light pollution.
We’ve switched most of our indoor and outdoor lighting to LED.
What are you doing for the environment? Visit

The area that will become the Hantz Woodlands. Photo by Joseph Murphy/Bassett & Bassett.

The area that will become the Hantz Woodlands. Photo by Joseph Murphy/Bassett & Bassett.

In the past few years, more cities have been creating community vegetable garden plots and even urban “food forests” of fruit and nut trees. Now an entrepreneur in crumbling Detroit is applying that idea on a large scale. While it’s not without controversy, a 140-acre forest/tree farm is a lot better than 140 acres of abandoned properties.

The Bullitt family has done a lot for the environment in the Northwest over the years. Their latest achievement is creating the Bullitt Center in Seattle as a building that is not just green but almost sustainable — capturing and purifying rain for water, covering the entire roof in PV panels, eschewing a parking garage in favor of bicycle storage and more. The New York Times has an interesting story about it. Be sure to click on “more photos” link to see all 13 photos showing its cool features.

A lot of consumers think they are doing a good thing by buying cage-free eggs. And they are. Supporting growers who provide more humane conditions for their chickens is a positive thing. But if you conjure up a vision of chickens pecking in a pasture when you reach for that carton of cage-free eggs, think again. Cage-free does not mean chickens roam freely, or even that they have access to the outdoors.
This article about the largest egg producer in Oregon expanding cage-free to 8 percent of its total production offers a good examination of the issue. Check out the photos of a cage-free henhouse teeming with some 40,000 chickens.

Buy Fresh Buy LocalThe Buy Fresh Buy Local plan connects farmers and consumers in direct marketing. This is another excellent step in expanding the local food movement in Central Oregon.

Mr. Moon and his chickens on his farm.

Mr. Moon and his chickens on his farm. Photo courtesy of Thomas Osborne.

Safeway is taking a step in the right direction with its certification requirements for humanely produced eggs (see this Seattle Times article). But we’ll continue to buy our eggs from John Moon, an eightysomething farmer in Terrebonne, OR who produces free-range eggs, honey and vegetables on his farm near us.

Here in the Northwest, we love salmon and work to protect our salmon runs. Wild salmon could potentially be threatened if GMO farmed fish escape, not to mention the unknown effects on human health. The possible benefit of somewhat cheaper salmon is not worth the enormous risk. Sign this petition to let the FDA know you won’t eat genetically modified fish.

Lots of communities have restrictions on what homeowners can do. Our rural neighborhood bans poultry. In the town where I grew up, you can’t park an RV in your driveway. One homeowners’ association in nearby Bend, OR bars residents from hanging laundry to dry outdoors.
But Orlando’s law against having a sustainable vegetable garden in your front yard, reported in this interesting story in the New York Times, is the epitome of stupidity!

If you have any doubt that the investment of a little extra time to cook your holiday dinner fresh from scratch is worth the effort, check out this side-by-side taste test judged by a group of firefighters.

You don’t have to live in the High Desert to know that conserving water is a good thing, but it is especially important in this arid climate. I was glad to see recently crews working on replacing some street median plantings in Bend OR with native plants and rock mulch. At my own place I continue to work on crafting an attractive landscape with native and other drought-tolerant plants, and I see more and more homeowners adopting the principles of xeriscaping too.
If you have a good-looking landscape that uses drip irrigation, or native/drought-tolerant plantings, or greatly limits turfgrass, enter this photo contest. You could inspire others to do likewise.


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