Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Money doesn’t grow on trees, but it may sprout in the least expected places.

By Hannah Coughlin

Eat More Nutritiously
Lower Grocery Bills.

With the economic changes in 2011 came a larger-than-expected i
ncrease in food prices (4.8% for home-consumers), leaving many families looking for solutions to reducing food bills while eating nutritious, organic foods. As a result, many households have turned to edible gardening as a way to offset costs. In fact, studies conducted by W. Atlee Burpee Co show that the return on investment for home-grown produce is better than 1 to 25. That’s $25 worth of produce for every $1 you sink into the ground! For families that go even further and freeze, can, or dry their harvest, the return climbs even higher.

Give them an inch, they’ll grow a pound. According to the National Gardening Association, one square foot of garden space can provide a half-pound of fresh vegetables (and that’s a conservative estimate). At current market prices for organic produce, even a small patio container garden can save you $100 in groceries.

There’s a first for everything. It’s understandable to be intimidated by the process of planting your first food garden, especially if you believe your restricted schedule, spatial limitations, or “brown thumb” have sealed your fate. Be encouraged. Plants want to grow – even in the Pacific Northwest. If you feel overwhelmed, start your first garden in a pot (there are plenty of container veggies and herbs to choose from). Half-a-dozen pots or one 3x3’ plot is a good start for beginners and will provide a satisfying harvest while you learn.

Help is available. Use it. There are countless resources just within Whatcom, Skagit and Island Counties to help you become a confident and successful food gardener. For hands-on workshops to lead you through the process step-by-step, consider attending The Savvy Urban Gardener workshop series above The RE Store March 6th – April 7th. You can also participate in monthly in-the-garden classes and work parties at The RE Patch community garden, which are always open to the public. For further resources of gardening assistance in your area, contact Hannah.

Top Ten Reasons why you should start an edible garden this year.
1. You can’t get more local than your backyard
2. A unique sense of empowerment and self-sufficiency
3. Peace of mind from knowing what’s in your food and where it came from
4. Higher nutrient levels in your food
5. Supplementing your household food supply and saving grocery money
6. The joy of dining on a meal of produce you grew
7. An opportunity to teach your kids (or roommates) where food comes from.
8. The ability to eat rare and expensive vegetable varieties (like heirloom tomatoes!)
9. Stress reduction from working with plants and soil.
10. A thinner waistline (you will inevitably eat more fruits and vegetables if you grow them)

As international horticulturist and instructor, Derek Duffy, puts it, “When you begin to see the life that springs up from a seedling, you will never forget it. You will naturally be inclined to nurture it to fruition. Like parenting, it’s equally rewarding and forever new.”

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Moving in the Same Direction

I ride my bike to work nearly every day. Each morning I pack my work clothes in my panniers, zip-up my reflective jacket, strap on my helmet and head out the door. Every day it’s pretty much the same: Same route, same time of day and same fellow bike commuters on the road.

It’s pretty cool to see the same people every morning, heading year-after-year to their jobs just like me. It’s even cooler now that we recognize each other. It used to be that I’d give these familiar folks a head nod as I rode by. Then I graduated to the two-finger wave and an occasional ring of the bell. Now, nearly 14-years into this familiar routine, I raise myself off of my handlebars, give a full-on wave and holler “good morning!” I’ve also taken to saying “’mornin’” to the folks standing at the bus stops, walking their dogs, and jogging past.

The funny thing is that I don’t know their names, I don’t know where they’re going, but I know one thing: We’re all moving from one place to another, powered by our own energy, experiencing this great community together. I don’t know much about these people. I wouldn’t recognize them without their familiar bike-gear or rain coats or crazy dogs on leash, but I really like them nonetheless. I like them because I get the sense that we share a common value and are willing to work hard to achieve it.

As I rode my bike to work today, I thought a lot about this notion and how it translates to RE Sources. I think of you and our other supporters a lot like I think about those folks on the trail: I don’t always know your names, I don’t know if I’d recognize you without your proverbial rain coat on…but I know you share the same values that we do. You value clean air, clean water, clean energy, resource conservation, public participation, science-based decisions, and you value the laws that protect us from environmental degradation.

I wish I could give each one of you a personal “Good Morning!” just like I share with my fellow commuters. To you I would add “thank you for your support!” Honestly, I thank each and every one of you for sticking with us as we grow and learn, helping us succeed, talking about our issues with your friends, making donations to support our work, writing letters to your elected officials, attending our events, “liking” us on Facebook, visiting our website, taking one of our classes and shopping at The RE Store.

Like the many people I see on my commute, I may not know your name, but I feel your support. I am thankful that you are moving in the same direction with the same set of values that we have at RE Sources.

Thank you.

Crina Hoyer

Interim Executive Director

RE Sources Bids Farewell to Bob Ferris

Today RE Sources bids farewell to Executive Director, Bob Ferris, who has chosen to leave the organization and pursue other opportunities. We will miss Bob, and wish him the very best in his future pursuits.

Effective this month, on an interim basis, Crina Hoyer will assume organization-wide management and leadership responsibilities.

I am confident in RE Sources' talented staff and their ability to continue perform at the highest levels during this transition. I look forward to continuing to support their work and providing the organization with a stable foundation for the future. Please feel free to contact Crina Hoyer (CrinaH (at) if you have any questions."

Ken Bronstein
President, RE Sources' Board of Directors

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Salvaged Wood: Turning Waste to Wonder

I love working at a place that excites me.  And just this morning on my walk around The RE Store I spied something that did just that—we are now carrying a new line of wood.  Before you start thinking that I am really setting my sights way too low—this is actually locally salvaged wood that is either reused and re-milled or gleaned from what is left over from past timber harvests. 

Our first shipments in the Bellingham Store includes:

Clear and character grade old growth fir flooring
T&G old growth Cedar and Fir paneling in many sizes
Door jamb packages
T&G Birch, Alder, and Maple flooring
Old growth Fir and Cedar finished dimension trim lumber
Old growth cedar and fir quarter round and cove molding
T&G 2x6 old growth fir “car decking”

Products are also flowing into our Seattle store inventory.

The wood comes to us via a relationship with Local Source Forest Products, Inc. and their partners mainly in Whatcom and Skagit Counties.  And it excites me for a number of reasons.  First serving as a retail outlet for a local company addresses our sustainability mission on a number of different levels.  We love local businesses and are happy to help where we can.  Local Sources’ actions also epitomize the types of necessary efficiencies and opportunities that need to be pursued in order to reduce our impact on the planet while at the same time taking steps to support human life.  This is job creation from waste.  This is job creation without a high ecological impact.  This is job creation we can embrace. 

Moreover this set of products—reused and gleaned flooring, molding, and dimension lumber—is simply so The RE Store.  Local Source Forest Products, Inc. and The RE Store are riffing on one of our most favorite themes: Turning waste into wonder. In my mind these products are a “treefer”:

They sustain local businesses;
Reduce waste while saving trees; and
Create jobs for hardworking and creative individuals.

This is all great as our projects move inside.

Bob Ferris
Executive Director