Thursday, September 30, 2010

Farm, Field, and Forest: Living with the Land 2010

Wilderness Guide Ryan LeClerc
Last Saturday's Farm, Field and Forest opened at 8:30 am and the final session ended at 6:15 pm.

A special thank you to all those who participated.... and especially to Bob Curley for his strong back and dedication to making the town hall look fabulous.  We borrowed tables and chairs from AOTV and the display boards from the Chamber of Commerce. 

According to Tom Berube, who was also exhibiting at the White Elephant, there were over 200 participants who came and went throughout the day. Some stayed from the opening until the closing, but most stayed for a few events and then moved on. A dozen licensed professional loggers and foresters received DCR continuing education credit for their participation. Thank you, Joe Smith, for logging them in and keeping track of the credit hours.

Royalston hunter, Chet Hall
Activities started after 9:00 am with Ryan Leclerc's entertaining demonstration on fly fishing and was followed by Chet Hall's talk on hunting for food. Chet held us all spell-bound with his tales and animal skins. He feeds his family through hunting and never buys meat or fish from the store.  (Ryan and his friends held fly tying demonstrations in the foyer area throughout the day. They had a steady stream of observers and participants.)

Bob Curley's Trailblazing was informative and Allison Comeau-White of the Hubbardston-based raw goat’s milk enterprise, Cookies Scentual Sudz, kept us entertained with her goat tales and informed us of her many goat milk-based products.

Brian Nugent explains his composting heat source drum
Kevin Price's exhibit at the White Elephant
The exhibitors and crafters added a great deal to the event. John Burk had a wonderful display of rural and wildlife photographs, and crafters such as Lynn Price displayed jewelry and soaps while her husband's wildlife photography was on display at the White Elephant.  Additional crafters included Sandy Michelin with the Keepin'-it-Local Gift Shoppe and Barbara Myerson of Silver Lace Treasures.
Diane Lincoln of Bruce's Browser displayed racks of books from her Athol book store and later moved on to the White Elephant to perform a set of her latest songs.

The Sustainable Energy portion of the program had a multitude of presenters including Anita Hagspiel from National Grid and Charles Bado from Greenfield-based Coop Power. Brian Nugent's composting drum stole the show. He rolled it out onto the fire-escape so some could get a better view.  However, people LOVED the energy efficient lightbulbs Anitia supplied, and some have signed up or are planning to sign up for Coop Power membership.  Thanks also to Pat, John, Ellen, Alan and the other presenters.

Dr. Jack Dempsey

Dr. Jack Dempsey's presentation on 17th century Native Americans and the colonizer and historical bad boy, Thomas Morton (author of The New English Canaan 1637),  kept us all entertained.

Dr. David's King talk on the decline of songbirds and other species was sobering. He informed us that over 90% of the Massachusetts forest is now mature forest cover which shelters certain wildlife, but most are also wholly or partially dependent on early successional (young) forest habitat. If the thick canopy is not opened soon by environmentally-sound harvesting (logging), we may soon witness the further decline and eventual extinction of a number of species. Since the decline of the wood products industry, this crisis is evident up and down the Northeast woodlands. David showed a slide show of a number of song birds and other species at risk that need shrublands to nest and forage.

Dr. David King - wildlife biologist and ornitologist
Today, less than 5% of the Massachusetts forest is early successional. King explained that small openings allow certain songbirds to perch and sing, but for some reason, they cannot mate and need additional acreage if they are to survive. Basically, clear-cut areas are critically needed, despite public opposition.  (Public attitudes and policy need serious revision. - my comment)
George Jones, President of Seaman Paper

Herm Eck did a commendable job with his presentation on the Quabbin Resevoir Watershed and forest management practices that focus on the quality as well as the quantity of the yeild.

Herm's presentation was followed by a wonderful panel discussion with Joe Smith, Dicken Crane, Fred Heyes, and DCR's Chief Forest Fire Warden David Celino.  Ironically, the wail of sirens as fire trucks drove by could be heard as he spoke. Chief Celino also delivered a sobering message regarding the "fuel" build-up in unmanaged forests.  By not practicing sustainable forestry, our forests are ripe for massive forest fires.  By the way, if you are concerned about excessive carbon released into the atmosphere, than you should be very concerned.  There's nothing quite like a forest fire for carbon release.  So, if you want a healthy forest, less prone to disease and forest fire, and one that supports biodiversity - promote environmentally sensitive forest management!  This segment of the day-long event was filmed by Martha Varnot. Forester, Dr. Alan Page acted as devil's advocate and quizzed the panel on forest management practices, the economics of the industry, and anything else he thought might liven up the discussion.
Filmmaker Steve Alves - Food for Change

Sue Paquet's demonstration on shitake mushrooms

Despite a fire that totaled the Chase Court building a few blocks away, most people who exited to watch the fire returned for George Jones, president of Seaman Paper, and his talk on the economics of running a paper comapany in a global market, Steve Alves' Food for Change, the story of the Food Coop Movement, Susan Paquet's talk on raising shitake mushrooms, and Josiah Simpson's Feed Northampton: Municipal Food Security. 

I am pleased to report that Sue passed out shitake mushroom samples to all in attendance during her talk.  I sauteed the shitake mushrooms Sue gave me in olive oil with onions, fresh garlic and tomato, added chopped clams and broth and milk and enjoyed the best clam chowder I've ever tasted.

Thank You to the Town of Orange Selectboard and town administrator Rick Kwiatkowski for use of the Orange Town Hall. Also, special thanks to AOTV's Carol Courville and Tammy-Lynn Chace at the Chamber.

Many have asked if this will be an annual event. We'll see!
Regards, Genevieve

Josiah Simpson and Abrah Dresdale

Lisa Brinkman arrived with her spinning wheel and spun as she watched the presentations.

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