Living Economically: Moving forward…looking back

Open Heart Farm is one of the many produce vendors at the Shelburne Farmers Market. Photo by Lynne Enman.

As most of us embrace the final weeks of summer, we look ahead to crisp autumn days and the start of school.  In keeping with this transition from summer to fall, August seems like the perfect time to reflect on some of the positive changes that have occurred during the past year that promote environmental sustainability. Many of these examples will ring familiar. When listed together, however, they clearly reflect that we are moving in a positive direction.

One of the most impressive examples involves a local retirement communities. Wake Robin was awarded the 2012 Governors Award for Environmental Excellence for their “Energy Use and Conservation from Policy to Practice” project. This speaks highly about the collective efforts of a highly engaged community that works together to conserve, prevent pollution, and protect our natural resources.

The Webster Road Bike path is busy with streams of bikers, dog-walkers, speed walkers, and runners allowing for greater connectivity to the town center. It’s hard to imagine a time when it wasn’t there. This too was a project that took the effort of an involved team of community members.

Our options for access to local food continue to grow, whether we choose a weekly visit to our farmers market held every Saturday through the fall to pick up local produce or other goodies or take a trip to the supermarket aisles that feature locally produced products. Signs for fresh eggs have sprouted on our country roads and our two local farms. The New Village Farm and Bread and Butter Farm are another great source of eggs, meat, fresh bread, and vegetables. Crowds continue to flock to Bread and Butter Farm for the ever popular “burger nights.”

Shelburne Farms thrives with plenty of visitors who cannot help but leave without a greater appreciation of a solid environmental ethic that permeates the entire landscape. Like many of the local farms, you can find their fresh produce (and a sampling of their award-winning cheese) at the farmers market.

Shelburne Supermarket continues to a sport a colorful array of canvas bags in all shapes and sizes. Plastic bags have been long forgotten.

Shelburne Vineyard is a great model for attention to environmental practices and a great place to enjoy local wine amidst the grapevines.

Solar panels sprout in fields and lawns offering an alternative to fossil fuels and a vision for a new energy future that combines a multitude of options.

The Shelburne Energy committee meets monthly to address a wide range of energy conservation practices and discuss ways to engage and support the community in conducting sustainable practices. This is a committed group we will be hearing from in the near future.

Local schools have embraced composting and recycling, busses no longer idle, and lunchrooms incorporate produce grown from school gardens and local farms. Students at both the community school and high school are committed to instilling a “green ethic” through a variety of initiatives that have made a huge impact on reducing their respective carbon footprints as well as cost savings.

These examples are a mere sampling of positive changes that have been witnessed over the past few years and I look to you, our community citizens and business leaders, to share your efforts so that we can include them as well!  My goal for this monthly column is to continue to highlight models of sustainable practices from which we can all learn. I encourage you to share your ideas and initiatives – small and large – as it is our collective actions that will keep us on a path to a more sustainable future. Contact me at lcaswellburke@comcast.net.

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