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Wind Class at Green Trust – May 27th & 28th

Windy Days at Green Trust

Jim Juczak, of Woodhenge fame, is a speaker at the upcoming Sustainable Energy Fair, builds wind turbines & cordwood homes, and lives off-grid. He’s coming up Memorial Day Weekend to teach a class (Sat & Sun) on building your own wind generator. We will be building and raising a 1000 watt wind turbine based on the design by Dan Fink and Dan Bartmann of Otherpower and Hugh Piggott (the godfather of home made wind power in Scotland). This home made Axial Flux 1000 watt turbine can be found in the Dans’ series in Back Home Magazine and ESSN Magazine, and is very easy to maintain by the owner/builder.

Let us know if you are interested in the class. It will be two very concentrated days. Dry camping for Tents and RV’s available. The Fee for the two day class is $100. Please RSVP by sending in a $25 registration and let us know what type of accommodations you require so we can plan accordingly.

Directions to Green-Trust.


Will the Real Organic Granola Please Stand Up

I’m sitting here this beautiful Thanksgiving morning, eating breakfast. Already feeling bad for what I’m going to consume later today, I thought I’d eat something healthy to balance it out. I grabbed some Grandy Oats Granola out of the cupboard, and started chowing down. Now it’s very tasty, but not everything tasty is good for you. Something I try not to do, is look at ingredients while I’m eating, but since I grew up with homemade granola, knowing everything that went into it (peanuts, honey, oats, raisins, etc.), I was curious. So many of the commercial granola’s have a lot of crap in them, like Bear Naked (Kellogg), Mother’s (Pepsico), Back to Nature (Kraft), and other “natural” products that contain or are produced with genetically engineered ingredients, toxic pesticides, sewage sludge, fumigants, and petrochemical solvents.

Well not Grandy Oats. Since 1979, in the White Mountains of western Maine, GrandyOats has made the tastiest granola by hand, in small batches, using the finest organic ingredients. GrandyOats now makes more than 40 unique handmade granolas, trail mixes and roasted nuts. They never use refined sweeteners or any artificial ingredients, only 100% organic ingredients that you can understand and pronounce.

Grandy Oats Cranberry Chew Organic Granola

Organic Oats
Organic Wheat Fakes
Organic Rye Flakes
Organic Triticale
Organic Dried Cranberries
Organic Dried Apples
Organic Honey
Organic Orange Juice
Organic Coriander
Organic Vanilla
Sea Salt


Ethyl Esters – Biodiesel from Ethanol

Tonight Rich Reilly from BiodieselWarehouse and I made 3 batches of biodiesel from ethanol. Using our soon to be famous Bacardi Technique (no Patent Pending), we processed the following batches:

Batch 1 was from 200 proof ethanol and new soybean oil.
Batch 2 was from 180 proof ethanol and new soybean oil.
Batch 3 was from 200 proof ethanol and used fryer oil.

Batch 1 is separating nicely, batch 2 doesn’t seem to be processing, batch 3 is too early to tell. More tomorrow on the results and the methods used.

Pictures and dialogue will be posted on our wiki over the next few days.

That’s biodiesel above the 100 ml mark, glycerin below it.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License.

For more info, see Girl Mark’s Biodiesel Homebrew Guide




NRDC & Harvard Reveal Costs of Mass Consumer Confusion; Offer New Plan for Commonsense Food Date Labeling

NEW YORK (September 18, 2013) – U.S. consumers and businesses needlessly trash billions of pounds of food every year as a result of America’s dizzying array of food expiration date labeling practices, which need to be standardized and clarified, according to a new report co-authored by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Harvard Law School’s Food Law and Policy Clinic. One key finding from an industry-conducted survey: More than 90 percent of Americans may be prematurely toss food because they misinterpret food labels as indicators of food safety.

“Expiration dates are in need of some serious myth-busting because they’re leading us to waste money and throw out perfectly good food, along with all of the resources that went into growing it,” said Dana Gunders, NRDC staff scientist with the food and agriculture program. “Phrases like ‘sell by’, ’use by’, and ‘best before’ are poorly regulated, misinterpreted and leading to a false confidence in food safety. It is time for a well-intended but wildly ineffective food date labeling system to get a makeover.”

NRDC and Harvard Law’s study, The Dating Game: How Confusing Food Date Labels Lead to Food Waste in America ( is a first-of-its-kind legal analysis of the tangle of loose federal and state laws related to date labels across all 50 states and presents recommendations for a new system for food date labeling. The report is a follow-up to NRDC’s 2012 Wasted ( report, which revealed that Americans trash up to 40 percent of our food supply every year, equivalent to $165 billion.

For the vast majority of food products, manufacturers are free to determine date shelf life according to their own methods. The report finds that the confusion created by this range of poorly regulated and inconsistent labels leads to results that undermine the intent of the labeling, including:

* False Notions that Food is Unsafe – 91 percent of consumers occasionally throw food away based on the “sell by” date out of a mistaken concern for food safety even though none of the date labels actually indicate food is unsafe to eat;

* Consumer Confusion Costs – an estimated 20 percent of food wasted in U.K. households is due to misinterpretation of date labels. Extending the same estimate to the U.S., the average household of four is losing $275-455 per year on food needlessly trashed;

* Business Confusion Costs – an estimated $900 million worth of expired food is removed from the supply chain every year. While not all of this is due to confusion, a casual survey of grocery store workers found that even employees themselves do not distinguish between different kinds of dates;

* Mass Amounts of Wasted Food – The labeling system is one factor leading to an estimated 160 billion pounds of food trashed in the U.S. every year, making food waste the single largest contributor of solid waste in the nation’s landfills.

Two main categories of labeling exist for manufacturers: those intended to communicate among businesses and those for consumers. But they are not easily distinguishable from one another and neither is designed to indicate food’s safety. “Sell by” dates are a tool for stock control, suggesting when the grocery store should no longer sell products in order to ensure the products still have shelf life after consumers purchase them. They are not meant to communicate with consumers, nor do they indicate the food is bad on that date. “Best before” and “use by” dates are intended for consumers, but they are often just a manufacturer’s estimate of a date after which food will no longer be at peak quality; not an accurate date of spoiling or an indication that food is unsafe. Consumers have no way of knowing how these “sell by” and “use by” dates have been defined or calculated since state laws vary dramatically and companies set their own methods for determining the dates, none of which helps to improve public health and safety.

“We need a standardized, commonsense date labeling system that actually provides useful information to consumers, rather than the unreliable, inconsistent and piecemeal system we have today,” said Emily Broad Leib, lead author of the report and director of Harvard Law School’s Food Law and Policy Clinic. “This comprehensive review provides a blueprint calling on the most influential date label enforcers – food industry actors and policymakers – to create and foster a better system that serves our health, pocketbooks and the environment.”

Use of expiration dates for food stem from consumer unease about food freshness mounting over the 20th century, as Americans left farms and lost their connection to the foods they consume. By 1975, a nationwide survey of shoppers showed 95% of respondents considered date labels to be the most useful consumer service for addressing freshness. The widespread concern prompted over 10 congressional bills introduced between 1973-1975 alone, to establish requirements for food dating. During that time, the General Accounting Office (GAO) issued a report to Congress advocating a uniform national date labeling system to avoid confusion. Despite GAO’s prophetic advice, none of the legislative efforts gained enough momentum to become law. Instead, the 1970s began the piecemeal creation of today’s fractured American date labeling regime.

While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture have the power to regulate food labeling to ensure consumers are not misled, both agencies have failed to adequately exercise their authority. FDA does not require food companies to place any date labels on food products, leaving the information entirely at the discretion of the manufacturer. The only product for which a date is federally regulated is infant formula.

Food producers and retailers can begin to adopt the following recommended changes to date labels voluntarily but government steps, including legislation by Congress and more oversight by FDA and USDA, should be considered as well:

* Making “sell by” dates invisible to consumers, as they indicate business-to-business labeling information and are mistakenly interpreted as safety dates;

* Establishing a more uniform, easily understandable date label system that communicates clearly with consumers by 1) using consistent, unambiguous language; 2) clearly differentiating between safety- and quality-based dates; 3) predictably locating the date on package; 4) employing more transparent methods for selecting dates; and other changes to improve coherency;

* Increasing the use of safe handling instructions and “smart labels” that use technology to provide additional information on the product’s safety.

“The scale of food waste worldwide is one of the most emblematic examples of how humanity is needlessly running down its natural resources. This new report comes on the heels of one compiled by the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), which points out that 28 percent of the world’s farmland is being used to produce food that is not eaten–an area larger than China,” said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director. “Everyone, every business, every city, state and government should do something to tackle this wastage to help reduce the global Foodprint.”

* Read the full issue brief here: or

* NRDC’s blog series on food waste:

* NRDC’s Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill report:

* UNEP and the FAO launched the Think Eat Save: Reduce Your Foodprint campaign in January 2013-its partners include NRDC:

Contact: Jackie Wei,, 310-434-2325 or (cell) 347-874-8305

# # #

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world’s natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Livingston, Montana, and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

The Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic, a division of the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation, is an experiential teaching program of Harvard Law School that links law students with opportunities to serve clients and communities grappling with various food law and policy issues. The Clinic strives to increase access to healthy foods, prevent diet-related diseases, and assist small and sustainable farmers and producers in participating in local food markets. For more information, visit


Why Composting, and How to do it!

We have posted quite a bit about composting lately, and we have done that because we believe it’s so important. Valuable nutrients are being wasted by the ton in this country when folks consider everything as garbage that needs to be landfilled. This causes landfill space issues in addition to losing the nutrients being thrown away.

The breakdown of biological matter is called digestion. There are two types, aerobic (with air, better known as composting), and anaerobic (without air, used in producing biogas (methane)).

We cover methane gas production and usage (water and space heating, electrical generation and more) in other material at and

In this article, we are going to concentrate on aerobic digestion, more commonly known as composting.

There are several methods for composting. Some are outdoor methods, where materials are piled, sometimes in a bin, or in a row, and nature is left to take it’s course. Some are more intentional, where the material is turned or rotated, speeding up the process.

There are indoor methods as well, including worm composting and mushroom composting.

Worm composting produces a high quality soil amendment (worm castings), a liquid fertilizer (worm tea), and of course, worms, which can be used as chicken or fish food, or sold to fishermen. The most common composting worm is Eisenia Fetida, or red worm.

Mushroom composting is another option, especially with woody yard waste, which does not normally compost well. The byproducts are mushroom compost, and of course, mushrooms, which are a healthy food crop that can be used for personal consumption or commercial resale.

The goal here is to produce high nutrient value soil amendments and fertilizer, improving the soil quality, and growing better plants without chemical additives.

Another method is grub composting. The grubs consume all the biological matter (including “uncompostables” like meat and human/pet poo), so instead of giving you compost, they give you high protein grubs, to be used as chicken or fish food. As fish and vegetable gardens (or aquaponics) do not use dirt as a growing medium (it’s a form of hydroponics), compost is not needed, but high quality fish food is.

For all the above methods, there are a variety of DIY options as well as commercial products available. We have built worm and grub bins using plastic storage tubs, barrels and buckets, compost bins using old pallets, and mushroom beds using woodchips and logs. The following links will lead you to DIY plans, as well as the packaged commercial solutions.

These topics are discussed at

Further reading: is a comprehensive online destination for all things composting, encouraging people to reduce their ecological footprint and reconnect with their local ecosystem through composting, organic gardening, and promoting the Earth’s natural lifecycle.


About Us & Recent Posts

Green Trust is a Sustainability Research Organization dedicated to teaching folks how to live in a renewable, sustainable manner. We travel internationally, teaching workshops, and have lived off-grid, developing alternatives like:

  • biofuels (methane, ethanol and biodiesel)
  • home built wind turbines (see us on the Science Channel)
  • solar pv (electric) and thermal (hot water)
  • greywater and rain water recovery and biological filtration

Over the years, we have experimented, failed (learned), experimented some more, and had successes. Our goal is to help you through the hurdles, avoiding our mistakes, so you make new ones all your own. A wise person once said, “Experience is directly proportional to the equipment ruined”. It’s a true concept, and we hope to help you avoid the expensive and life threatening experiences. Along the way, you may on occasion let out “the magic smoke”, but if you follow our advice, you can avoid much of it. We are constantly trying to become more self sufficient, more independent, and want to help you on your journey as well!

Steve Spence

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Recent Posts


Local food vs. global food?

I’m sitting here at the table this morning, eating breakfast. I’m having locally baked bread, locally produced jam, and locally produced butter. I’m being warmed from the heat from the woodstove with wood cut on my own property and I look over at the apple juice container and it says “Concentrate from New Zealand/China” ….

I live in New York State. We are well known for apple production, and my apple juice (Food Club / Topco) has to be brought from the other side of the world? Something is very wrong.

Why Buy Local?

Most produce in the US is picked 4 to 7 days before being placed on supermarket shelves, and is shipped for an average of 1500 miles before being sold. And this is when taking into account only US grown products! Those distances are substantially longer when we take into consideration produce imported from Mexico, Asia, Canada, South America, and other places.

We can only afford to do this now because of the artificially low energy prices that we currently enjoy, and by externalizing the environmental costs of such a wasteful food system. We do this also to the detriment of small farmers by subsidizing large scale, agribusiness-oriented agriculture with government handouts and artificially cheap energy.

Cheap oil will not last forever though. World oil production has already peaked, according to some estimates, and while demand for energy continues to grow, supply will soon start dwindling, sending the price of energy through the roof. We’ll be forced then to reevaluate our food systems and place more emphasis on energy efficient agricultural methods, like smaller-scale organic agriculture, and on local production wherever possible.

Cheap energy and agricultural subsidies facilitate a type of agriculture that is destroying and polluting our soils and water, weakening our communities, and concentrating wealth and power into a few hands. It is also threatening the security of our food systems, as demonstrated by the continued e-Coli, GMO-contamination, and other health scares that are often seen nowadays on the news.

These large-scale, agribusiness-oriented food systems are bound to fail on the long term, sunk by their own unsustainability. But why wait until we’re forced by circumstance to abandon our destructive patterns of consumption? We can start now by buying locally grown food whenever possible. By doing so you’ll be helping preserve the environment, and you’ll be strengthening your community by investing your food dollar close to home. Only 18 cents of every dollar, when buying at a large supermarket, go to the grower. 82 cents go to various unnecessary middlemen. Cut them out of the picture and buy your food directly from your local farmer. –


Sustainability is not just for the 3rd World

Assembled by our old friend (old sounds bad, how about long time friend?) Alex Weir (Happy Birthday Alex!), CD3WD is a collection of high-quality 3rd world development information on agriculture, health, appropriate technology, construction, food processing, crop storage, woodwork, metalwork, electrical trades, education, and computer skills. All material is HTML and PDF, and is therefore platform independent. Hosted in it’s entirety by Aquaponics Guru, Travis Hughey (Barrel-Ponics Inventor) at FAST Online, you can find DIY info on just about any subject from methane digestion to pedal generators and much more:

For more references, see :
Humanity Development Library 2.0


Creating Healthier Environments with Plants

By Chris Karl

Recently I met with an architect who designs healthcare facilities. He relayed how he absolutely detests the use of live plants in the properties he designs. “I don’t like that I can’t control the life cycle of the plant and how it continually changes its look,” he said with obvious disdain. I believe this obviously sedentary and obese architect has become, like so many people in this country, so far removed from nature and healthy living that he has forgotten the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and being in the company of greenery. Here is a man who designs for a population that is predominately sick and unable to control their own lifestyle that have been forced to rely on an out-of-touch designer who does not know understand the healing power of nature. I wonder when we lost our ability to appreciate the primal connection we all share with the natural world?

More and more companies today are reducing or eliminating plants in the workplace to save money. They fail to realize, however, that this cost-cutting measure is short-term thinking that will compromise their employees’ well-being. Just as plants oxygenate the environment and soothe the soul, obesity cannot be altered with empty calories but requires thoughtful nutrition to turn around a life that is heavily compromised and destined not to function optimally without those changes.

A growing body of research demonstrates that access to a natural environment indoors, where we all spend the majority of our waking hours, may improve health and well-being. As a design professional, I have seen first-hand the healing and calming benefits of plants in the workplace. Human beings are hard-wired to appreciate nature. Despite our “plugged in” and sedentary lifestyle since the 1950’s, humans were hunter gathers for over 10,000 years and living as part of nature. Today we have become so far removed from nature that some of us are unable to appreciate the beauty of a living, breathing plant within our workplace. Being around plants reduces stress and engenders a feeling of well-being and improved energy in most people; a benefit that is even more acute if correct lighting is in place. Because plants have a large surface area and exchange water and gases with their surroundings, they have a unique ability to tackle and improve many environmental problems.

“A pleasing and positive workplace that is presented as a spiritually satisfying sanctuary with natural light and greenery is enormously beneficial for a person’s well-being,” says Dr. Gilda Carle, psychotherapist, author and professor. “Being able to access and enjoy surroundings that reduce stress and engage the senses is highly therapeutic for people.”

Here are my selections for the top five plants, which not only heighten and satisfy our senses with their funky and trendy style, but also help to keep our workplace environments happier and healthier:

1) Ficus Pandurata – The Ficus Pandurata or Fiddleleaf Fig grows best in a high to medium high light environment and is an interesting variation on the standard well known Ficus elastica rubber plant. The large leaves can add a striking accent to the home or office.

2) Polyscias Fabian – A native of Brazil, Polyscias or Geranium-leaf Aralia or Arilia Favian is an evergreen shrub or small tree with a compact habit. While it is widely used as for hedges in the tropics, in the United States, we use it as a beautiful, eco-friendly border as well as a captivating stand-alone “look at me” tree.

3) Dracaena Janet Craig Compacta – Dracaena is a genus of forty species of subtropical, evergreen, woody plants grown for their statuesque form and ornamental foliage. They are sometimes mistakenly identified as palms but are actually more closely related to lilies. The name Dracaena is derived from the Greek word “drakaina”, a female dragon. The link between plant and beast is the resinous red gum produced when the stem is cut which, when thickened, is supposed to resemble dragon’s blood. It is used as a varnish and in photo engraving.

4) Dracaena Marginata Character – Originally from Madagascar, Dracaena are known for their visually arresting ornamental foliage. An increasingly popular indoor plant in the modern workplace, the plant, which can grow up to 15 feet in height, is supported by an aged and knobby trunk which gives it a unique character.

5) Philodendron Red Congo –The Philodendron Red Congo is a new and distinct cultivar of Philodendron. It is a product of the cross or breeding between Philodendron ‘Imperial Red’ as the female parent and an unidentified cultivar of the Philodendron tatei. This plant grows vigorously in an upright but spreading or open manner. New Red Congo leaves are brownish maroon to almost red in color while the large mature ones are dark green in color with a touch of red. The plant’s leaf petioles remain reddish purple to bright right with long-lasting petiole sheaths.

“There is now general agreement within the scientific community that plants improve the indoor environment, and are useful weapons in the fight against the modern phenomenon known as sick building syndrome (SBS),” says Kenneth Freeman, International Technical Director at Ambius who has led many research initiatives on the benefits of plants in the workplace. “No specific cause of SBS has been identified, but poor air quality, excessive background noise and inadequate temperature and light control are thought to be important factors. Because plants have a large surface area and exchange water and gases with their surroundings, they have a unique ability to tackle many environmental problems.” In particular, plants can reduce levels of carbon dioxide, which can accumulate in buildings from the breathing of its occupants and the by-products of heating systems and electrical equipment. Plants also increase the relative humidity, which should be between 40% and 60% RH for maximum human comfort. Plants reduce levels of certain pollutant gases, such as formaldehyde, benzene and nitrogen dioxide as well as airborne dust levels. Plants also reduce air temperatures and background noise levels.

In many office towers and hospitals, there is a need to channel pedestrian traffic towards significant landmarks, such as exits, check-in desks, escalators and common passageways. Plants offer an attractive and practical solution, providing a living barrier that gently guides people to where you want them to go. Choosing the right plants and containers for this purpose is very important. Spiky plants or those with sharp-edged leaves would clearly be inappropriate in an area designed for heavy pedestrian traffic flow. Containers need to be robust, take up the minimum of floor space and in some situations be linkable to form an impenetrable wall.

About the author:

Based in Orange County, California, Chris Karl is a Design Specialist for Ambius, a division of Rentokil Initial which offers a full spectrum of services to enhance the interior space for the hospitality, healthcare, retail, and commercial industries. Chris’ design savvy was recognized with an Award of Excellence from the Plantscape Industry Alliance (PIA) for his horticultural work in the Beckman Coulter lobby in Orange County, California. With a B.A. and Masters Degree in Fine Arts from California State University in Long Beach, Chris designs and implements interior projects for commercial clients. He can be reached at



World-renowned soil biology expert to join Rodale Institute

Kutztown, PA, January 24, 2011—The Rodale Institute, a non-profit dedicated to pioneering organic farming through research and outreach, today announced the appointment of Dr. Elaine Ingham as Chief Scientist. Dr. Ingham has lead Soil Foodweb, Inc. as president and director of research since 1996, helping farmers all over the world to grow more resilient crops by understanding and improving their soil. She is also an affiliate professor at Maharishi University of Management in Iowa and has served in academia for two decades.

In her new role as Chief Scientist, Dr. Ingham will take the lead on all Rodale Institute research projects; act as the scientific voice for the Institute as she travels worldwide; and help create a vision for the future of food and farming.

“Dr. Ingham is a true, card-carrying Soil Biologist—a rare entity. As one of the foremost authorities on practical soil biology management, she is uniquely qualified to pioneer new frontiers of organic research with the Rodale Institute,” says Executive Director Mark Smallwood. “We are very excited to have her join our team.”

Since it’s founding in 1947 by J.I. Rodale, the Rodale Institute has been committed to groundbreaking research in organic agriculture, advocating for policies that support farmers, and educating people about how organic is the safest, healthiest option for people and the planet. The Institute is home to the Farming Systems TrialTM (FST), America’s longest-running side-by-side comparison of chemical and organic agriculture. Consistent results from the study have shown that organic yields match or surpass those of conventional farming. In years of drought, organic corn yields are about 30% higher. This year, 2011 marks the 30th year of the trial. New areas of study at the Rodale Institute include rates of carbon sequestration in chemical versus organic plots and new techniques for weed suppression.

Rodale Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to pioneering organic farming through research and outreach. For over sixty-years, we’ve been researching the best practices of organic agriculture and sharing our findings with farmers and scientists throughout the world, advocating for policies that support farmers, and educating consumers about how going organic is the healthiest options for people and the planet.