Eco Local Guide

March 2009 Archives

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Looks like the long Winter has finally broken and Spring is here.  One sure sign that Spring has Sprung is the return of the Maple Weekends.  We are fortunate to have the producers of the finest sweetener on the planet right here in our backyard.  Of course, I'm talking about the annual ritual of Maple sap collection to create Maple syrup.  Checkout the article "March Maple Madness" in my previous blog post here at and read about some of the characters involved in this right of Spring.

by Donna Pochaski of Vintage Chic Furniture

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I started painting distressed furniture "shabby chic style" first out of necessity. I pulled a piece of furniture off the curb that someone was throwing away. I just moved into a small and super cute old cottage style house and I realized I needed more furniture.  I found great candidate that somebody had left on the curb. I loaded into my vehicle, went to home depot, bought some paint, a brush, and some sandpaper and went to work. I chose white paint - I love white, and it's the cheapest paint to buy!  After priming and painting, I proceeded to sand the edges to give it that aged distressed look. I loved the way it came out.  Then it hit me - this is how I'm going to decorate my whole house!! The white finish was light and bright and I just loved it.

By David DeLozier

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The current housing crisis has got many people rethinking the idea of how we should live in the world of the future.  The old adage of "bigger is better" has proven unsustainable in many ways.  Cookie cutter McMansion neighborhoods are attractive looking out the car window, but the lifestyles in these "Wysteria Lane" clones can leave the residents desperate for something more.  Many people are looking for ways to live more affordably and self sufficiently, in harmony with their surroundings.  There is a grass-roots movement of people out to create what is being called "Intentional Communities."  Not the communes of the 60's heydays, but a new type of neighborhood where people are integrated to the land and with each other, working together in a partnership to enhance the whole to create a dynamic living arrangement.  In an intentional community, a part of the design is the gathering places that provide opportunity to meet your neighbors in natural ways - Common Gardens, meeting spaces, exercise trails, and shared activities.

By Shannon Hayes


On Wednesday, March 11th, the U.S. House Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry will hold a hearing on the proposed National Animal Identification System (NAIS). On the surface, NAIS is a marvel of technological wizardry whereby we farmers tag every head of livestock in the country and the USDA electronically tracks their whereabouts. In the event of a disease outbreak, they plan to identify within 48 hours which animals are involved, where they are located, and what other animals might have been exposed. After an outpouring of farm and ranch protests, NAIS was made "voluntary at the federal level," but the status is precarious, because funding to states can be contingent upon mandating compliance. For us as consumers, NAIS may sound like a legislative dream, assuring the American food supply is safe. But for us as citizens, NAIS is a nightmare. Policy opponents argue the program cannot deliver on its promises to thwart di sease contagion; it does nothing to contain food-born illness; it threatens the civil liberties of farmers; it infringes on the religious freedoms of many, like the Amish, who object to the system on grounds that it represents "the mark of the beast."

PLEASE NOTE: VIRGIL'S HOUSE IS NO LONGER BUSINESS. See a list of coffee shops in Saratoga >
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Virgil's House came onto the Saratoga scene two years ago when the old auto parts store on Lake Ave, next the Parting Glass Pub, was rehabbed for new commercial use.  Opening another coffee shop and eatery in the already crowded marketplace of downtown Saratoga Springs would seem a bit crazy, but not to Kathleen Quartararo. Having been burned out from the techno-gadget world of telecom, she and partner James Hahn wanted a place where they and others could defrag from the "connected" world.   Full of ideas and freed from the corporate rulebook, Kathleen and James gathered their collection of old furniture, board games and hodge-podge of coffee mugs and opened Virgil's House.  Virgil's has become that tech-free haven and a whole lot more.  When you come to Virgil's, turn off your cell phone; leave your laptop in the car.  Instead, engage a conversation, make a new friend and play a game of cards.  The giant chess board may beckon, and you just might stay awhile.  Welcome to Kathland. 

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By MaryBeth McCue

The need to practice personal responsibility to acquire and maintain health may be at an all time high, even while the new Obama administration in Washington is working to "improve" our Health Care model. Chronic illness and disease are on the rise and have been for some time.  People are living longer, but at the expense of living more years not feeling well and lacking vital function -needlessly.   Many have come to believe that "forty or fifty something" means the start of chronic disease, when it does not have to be.  And even more alarming, but now "common", are seeing young people in our culture burdened with chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, auto-immune diseases, depression, ADD and more, which a very short time ago where seen as diseases of the  "aging " population.  Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), Integrative Medicine (IM), Mind- Body-Medicine (MBM), Functional Medicine (FM) - most are out of pocket services to help restore health- continue to be utilized more and more each year.  This upward trend is yet another significant "indicator" of the continued deficiency in our western-conventional health care model.   A broken system where many with chronic conditions are told by their physicians:  There is nothing wrong with you"... "There is nothing more you can do",...." You just have to live with it", etc etc etc .

The experts, and the non-experts, like our government - are in agreement that the inclusion of Integrative Medicine as a covered health care service will help our nation heal their health, their economy and unite back into the world more whole and complete and able to serve. This end result will itself continue to feed the healing process. 

The snow is starting to melt and winter is almost over, at least I think so... This means that it is that time again where I put on everything I own and decide if I would wear it, if it is too small and what I need for the next season.  Finally after it's all bagged up, and ready to go, I get another bag full of someone else's giveaways and I have to go through them too.

March Maple Madness in the Town of Thurman

By Persis Granger

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It all begins on one of those special days in late winter, when snowmelt hammers on the porch roof, the sun seems higher in the sky, the air has an unmistakable smell of spring, and crows caw over the meadow. In Thurman, folks wait all winter for days like that. On days like that, the maple sap is running.

The tiny Warren County town of Thurman boasts a proliferation of maple producers - probably more per square mile than anywhere else around. Most are second- or third-generation sugar makers, carrying on a proud family tradition of maple production, using a combination of learned-at-the knee know-how and an ongoing quest for technology to streamline their operations and make them energy- and labor-efficient. Many recall a grandparent carrying buckets with a yoke to a kettle over an open fire. Some will share memories of two or three generations of their family working together to gather, boil and bottle.

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