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English: Great Seal of the state of Wisconsin
English: Great Seal of the state of Wisconsin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The longterm goal is cleaner water, fewer algae blooms  and weeds to improve the habitat for fish and other freshwater aquatic life that live in lakes, streams and rivers in Wisconsin.

The idea is to allow wastewater treatment plants, paper mills or dairies with pollution discharge permits to avoid or reduce pollution control costs, in favor of  developing partnerships within watersheds that reduce the flow of phosphorous.  Partnerships may include grants for farmers to change their field and husbandry practices and help communities control runoff from streets.  Regulations also allow water pollution trading among the many watersheds in Wisconsin, which may provide more flexibility to address the pollution issue.

Phosphorous is a nutrient in fertilizer and can be found in suburban yards, automatic dishwasher detergents and manure from farm fields. It causes algae blooms and increases weeds in streams, lakes and rivers.

Algal bloom on the dam

Algal bloom on the dam (Photo credit: MCG Images 2)

The new program to reduce runoff  is another step in the effort to control phosphorous. Wisconsin restricted the sale of fertilizer containing phosphorous in April 2010 and limited the phosphorous level in dishwasher detergents.

In Wisconsin, 172 waterways are polluted due to high levels of phosphorous which reduces their value and recreational use, according to the Department of Natural Resources. The latest phosphorous regulations were approved by Gov. Jim Doyle before he left office but needed EPA approval to move ahead.  Governor Walker tried to shelve the regulation early in 2011, saying Wisconsin’s rule couldn’t be stricter than surrounding states. 

Environmentalists and pro-lakes advocates argued that states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota had a greater interest in controlling phosphorous then states such as Illinois and Indiana with fewer lakes. Toni Herkert, policy maker at the Wisconsin Lakes Association, said law makers in farming and lake areas saw the regulations as a chance to take on the problems of algae blooms and weedy lakes.  In spring of 2011, legislators allowed the regulations to pass.

 A state analysis is underway on the economic impact of phosphorous reduction in bodies of water. The DNR expects the report will show that the benefits of cleaner water on property values will out strip the capital costs of pollution control.

“Using this rule, communities and businesses can work together to make more meaningful phosphorous reduction,” said DNR secretary Cathy Stepp.

Although agriculture is Georgia’s largest economic sector, ironically 80 percent of the food that the state buys is from out-of-state. 

The Georgia Sustainable Agriculture Consortium wants to bring local food back to Georgia.  Within in the next five years,  the state wants to create  two food hubs to shift agriculture back to local markets by making it easier for farmers to sell their produce locally  or regionally.

Food hubs, a new concept, allow smaller-scale producers to directly sell produce and meats to consumers.  “This is something that can affect all of our farmers,” said Julia Gaskin, coordinator of UGA Cooperative Extension programming in sustainable agriculture.

Frank Riley, a farmer who grows corn and pumpkins, would like to develop a farmers market in Hiawassee, Ga.  “Food hubs are good for the community. They are good for everyone,” Riley said.

Food hubs are locally managed, have the potential to generate jobs, improve rural economies and increase the capability of mid-scale farms. However, the creation and implementation of food hubs can be difficult.

Additional Consortium goals include:

  1. Form a working network structure that will facilitate interaction between key institutions and stakeholders;
  2. Quantify barriers and infrastructure needed for local/regional food hub development;
  3. Conduct life cycle analysis of vegetable and grazing systems;
  4. Begin research on multi-species grazing systems; and
  5. Increase research and extension on small to mid-scale vegetable production systems.

The Consortium was formed by the University of Georgia College and Agricultural and Environmental SciencesFort Valley State University College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and Technology, and the Georgia Department of Agriculture. Other key partners are in this effort are: Georgia OrganicsGeorgia Farm Bureau, Community Health WorksUSDA Agricultural Research ServiceGeorgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association andGeorgia USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service.

Bunny Brundred met  Jim Murray during World War II  where she trained in the service as an aviation mechanic and attended Officer Candidate School. They married soon after they were discharged. In 1953, James and Jean “Bunny” Murray left  New York, and purchased a group of adjoining farms in central Virginia which they named Panorama Farm for its beautiful views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The farm sits on land that is part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Jim ran a manufacturing business and taught at U.Va. and Bunny ran the farm, raised cattle, sheep and eight sons.

In its early years, Panorama Farms was home to a number of conventional farming enterprises of agriculture and livestock.  In 1996 they decided to rethink their vision for the farm. “We began looking at the farm as a resource,” says Panorama Pay-Dirt founder Steve Murray of the property he grew up on. “Out of that decision, came Panorama Pay-Dirt, Panorama Running, and Panorama Trails. We also lease hay-making and hunting rights.”

So far, so good. “Our efforts have made the farm sustainable into the next generation,” Murray says.

Hitting Pay-Dirt

Establishing the compost business and other alternatives to conventional agriculture has allowed the Murray family to preserve the beautiful 850-acre property as an agricultural enterprise. At the same time, they are recycling organic matter that would otherwise be headed for the landfill, and they are supplying area gardeners, landscapers, and farmers with a product that adds vital nutrients to the soil. “The response has been enormously favorable,” says Pay-Dirt co-founder Drew Murray. “My brother and I take pride in the TLC we put into our product, and our customers seem to appreciate it too.”

 The Farm is also the home course for the University of Virginia and Albemarle County High Schools’ cross country teams. Additionally, the Farm hosts the A.R.C. Natural History Day Camp for three weeks every summer.

The first anaerobic dry fermentation biodigester in the western hemisphere is up and running at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. The alternative power system has been producing clean, renewable electricity from plant and food waste to supply electricity and heat for the university campus since Oct. 3.

University staff and students involved with the development of the power system had been stockpiling agricultural plant and food waste as feedstock in airless chambers and feeding it into the dry anaerobic biodigester since last summer in anticipation of bringing it online.

Anaerobic digestion is a process in which microorganisms break down biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen. As part of an integrated waste management system, anaerobic digestion reduces the emission of methane gas, CO2, and “non-methane organic compounds” or NMOCs into the atmosphere.  Anaerobic digestion is also used as a renewable energy source since the process produces a methane and carbon dioxide rich biogas suitable for energy production.

As the name indicates, ‘dry,’ as opposed to ‘wet,’ anaerobic digesters break down dry organic materials with moisture content of less than 75%, such as agricultural waste and plant material traditionally left over after harvesting a crop.

On Oct. 3, the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh team decided they had enough biogas to start-up energy production, so they turned on the plant’s gas turbine engines. The biogas from the biodigester drives the turbines, which are expected to generate enough electricity in the start-up phase to meet 5% of the university’s electricity and heating needs.

Besides producing clean, renewable energy from agricultural and food waste – corn stalks, husks, leaves, and discarded food – the bio-energy plant is serving as an ideal site for experiential learning, particularly for biology and environmental students.

Proposed plans call for revenue from the plant to flow into student scholarships, campus laboratory upgrades and expansion, and the creation of a rural community development innovation center.


In less than a month, President Obama will make a decision regarding the Keystone XL pipeline. Through the Tar Sands Action campaign, activists are working to encourage Obama to deny its construction. A sit-in to stop the pipeline was held August 20 to September 3 in Washington D.C.. During this two-week period of sustained civil disobedience, 1,252 people were arrested, among them junior environmental science major Adam Kranz from Lawrence University.

The pipeline, proposed by the TransCanada Corporation, would move crude oil 1,700 miles on its way from Alberta, Canada to refineries in Texas, passing through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma.

With a projected cost of $7 billion, the pipeline will carry 800,000 barrels of oil a day and create thousands of construction jobs. However, heated debate has arisen over the environmental damage the pipeline would cause. In order to extract oil from the tar sands, forests must be cut down, high amounts of carbon dioxide may be emitted, water sources will be threatened and spills and leaks are likely.

Circle the White House on November 6th &  write letters

As part of the Tar Sands Action project, campus organizations including LU’s Greenfire, Amnesty International and SWAHP have been working to protest the planned Keystone XL pipeline. Greenfire hopes to mail off approximately 1,000 letters as part of their campaign.

Pending funding, Greenfire hopes to send students to the final action of the Tar Sands Campaign on Nov. 6, precisely one year before the 2012 elections. Protestors plan to encircle the White House in a motion of solidarity and a final attempt to send their message to the President.

Kranz concluded, “This isn’t just an issue about climate change. It’s about environmental justice. It’s not an abstract thing. People in Canada are already dying of cancers. Our way of life is already being destroyed by the infrastructure and the spills that have taken place. It’s important to remember that this issue is not just about preserving the environment, it’s about protecting people.”


As of the 2002 Census, the average age of all U.S. farmers was approximately 55. More distressing, though, is that from 1982 to 2002 the number of young principal farmers under 35 years old has declined from 16% to 9%.

To support the rise of a new generation of young farmers and ranchers, the USDA is stepping into the fray. It recently awarded 36 grants totaling $18 million for organizations to provide assistance and training to enable beginning farmers and ranchers to receive the training and assistance necessary to operate and grow successful, sustainable farms, USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced September 30.

“Beginning farmers and ranchers face unique challenges, and these grants will provide needed training to help these producers become profitable and sustainable,” Merrigan said. “American agriculture supports 1 in 12 jobs in America, a critical contribution to the strength and prosperity of the country.”

Merrigan continued: “The sheer productivity of our farmers has given Americans access to a cheap, wholesome food supply and provides us with more discretionary income than much of the rest of the world. But our farmers are aging, and more of our young people are looking outside of farming for their careers. It’s time to reverse these trends, keep farmers on the farm and help beginning farmers and ranchers thrive in their careers.”

The grants will flow through the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) “Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program” (BFRDP).  Established in the 2008 Farm Bill, NIFA makes these grants to organizations carrying out education, training, technical assistance and outreach programs that help beginning farmers and ranchers with 10 years’ experience or less.

Awards were made to organizations in Arizona, California, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, the US Virgin Islands, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Select awardees include:

  • A project in New York to provide workshops, conferences, apprenticeships, online resources and mentoring services for more than 1,200 beginning farmers by 2014
  • A project in Montana will offer financial, credit and marketing training to beginning American Indian farmers
  • A project in Mississippi will develop and disseminate training materials and decision-making tools to high school and college students who plan to enter farming and ranching

 More information is available at:


The town of Edmonston, one of the Washington, DC area’s lowest-lying communities, has had numerous clashes with its environment.  The Anacostia River splits the town in two, causing flooding during heavy rains. There have been four floods in the last decade. Two bridges, one for cars, bikes and pedestrians; and one for freight trains — reconnect Edmonston’s east and west sides. 

Located in Prince George’s County between much larger Hyattsville and Bladensburg, Edmonston is a middle class town of 1,400.  But Edmonston is now calling Decatur the “East Coast’s greenest street,” thanks to $1.3 million in stimulus money and a year of construction.

“We have no confirmation on that, but I will boast that it is the greenest street in the country,” said volunteer Mayor Adam C. Ortiz, who began working on revamping Decatur in 2007. “Block by block, from the tops of the trees to the stormwater system under the ground, it is as environmentally responsible as possible.”

Before the rain gardens were planted, dirty stormwater flowed through street drains emptying into the Chesapeake Bay. During storms, water would flood the streets. Now, the streets are clean and water-free, and the plants do most of the filtering work.

“This is the most important thing right here. These gardens — they’re low-tech, they’re affordable, and they’re completely sustainable,” Ortiz said.

“We wanted to show that there’s another way to build, there’s another way to prosper, that accepts full responsibility and does not pass problems downstream, and that it can be beautiful and livable.”

Edmonston officials unveiled the new Decatur Street in November 2010. Running three-fourths of a mile, it is now lined with about 30 maple, elm, sycamore and oak trees and energy-efficient, wind-powered streetlights. Crews installed a bike lane made of permeable asphalt that reduces storm runoff and pollution. They also narrowed the roadway by about eight feet, reducing the amount of pavement. The new sidewalks are made of permeable concrete blocks and landscaped areas, or “rain gardens,” that filter water naturally through the ground.

The Bigger Picture

Green streets have been built before, in Seattle and Portland, Ore., but they’re hard to find in towns like Edmonston, which has no stormwater filtration system.

Decatur Street has already won its admirers. The Chesapeake Bay Trust, which provided the initial $25,000 grant for the Edmonston project, plans to announce eight other green-street initiatives in Southeast Washington and the Baltimore area Wednesday, said Associate Director Jana L.D. Davis.

“If this can be replicated, many of these surprisingly inexpensive features can really help the environmental health of the bay,”  she said.

Although they’ve been in Wisconsin for over 80 years, Standard Process hasn’t been well-known until the last few years as people have become more concerned about health and nutrition.

The 420-acre certified organic farm, located a mile or so from its headquarters in Palmyra, WI., grows whole foods for their high nutrient content – alfalfa, barley grass,oats, pea vine, buckwheat, Spanish black radish, kale, beets, radishes, Brussels sprouts – and processes them into nutritional supplements.

Organic growing methods include:

  • All of the seeds are organic and always untreated and free of genetically modified organisms (GMO)
  • Zero tolerance for genetically modified seed, synthetic herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, or seed treatments. Our whole foods are cultivated with only natural nutrition and no synthetic fertilizer.
  • Every field is professionally tiled to optimize drainage. And, we set our soil testing levels well beyond what’s required because we believe that well-managed soil produces high-quality raw materials.
  • Irrigation water is supplied from a naturally occurring artesian flowage, although we water as infrequently as possible to encourage the roots dig deep down and find nutrition.


Health Care Partners

Standard Process sells only to health care providers  including chiropractors, dentists, and acupuncturists. Many chiropractors prefer to recommend Standard Process supplements to their patients because the products use whole foods instead of more highly processed ingredients. Standard Process offers more than 300 products through three product lines: Standard Process whole food supplements, Standard Process Veterinary Formulas, and MediHerb herbal supplements. The company is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, as well as state and federal agricultural departments.


The first zero-energy multifamily community in the US is now open, demonstrating that cutting edge green building technologies are not only possible – but also scalable – for mainstream housing production.

Located in Issaquah, Wash., zHome’s 10 townhomes use zero net energy; 70% less water; nearly 80% Forest Stewardship Council certified wood; healthy, low-toxicity materials; and salmon-friendly site practices.

“This pioneering project sets a new standard for how homes can – and should – be built in our region and country,” says Issaquah Mayor Ava Frisinger. “Our vision is that zHome’s innovative approach will catalyze the market for much greener building materials and technologies, as well as inspire the next generation of homebuilders through examples that are replicable and market rate.”

zHome was built thanks to a public/private partnership spearheaded by the City of Issaquah, in conjunction with Built Green, King County, Port Blakely Communities, Puget Sound Energy and the Washington State University Energy Program. The homes were built and developed by Ichijo USA and Seattle builder Matt Howland.

The partners have also created a sustained, long-term education and marketing program to accelerate market adoption of sustainable housing in the region. One of zHome’s 10 units will remain as a Stewardship Center for the next five years, offering educational programming and tours for the community, builders, designers and students.

“Buildings account for 40% of all carbon dioxide emissions nationally, yet modern homes are about as innovative as the Model T,” says zHome project manager Brad Liljequist with the City of Issaquah. The Stewardship Center will also offer folks innovative and practical steps for replicating zHome’s approach in their own home building or remodeling projects.”  

zHome is designed to push the limits of green building and hit aggressive, numeric benchmarks in energy, water, materials, construction waste and site development.  The benchmarks include:

  • Zero net energy and carbon neutral because of energy-efficient construction practices and solar panels.
  • Use 70% less water than the average home, achieved through an integrated rainwater recycling system and water-efficient fixtures.
  • Incorporate 78% FSC-certified wood products and a high percentage of recycled, reclaimed and regional materials.
  • Diverted 90% of all construction-related debris through waste prevention, reuse and recycling.
  • Offer high indoor air quality through low toxicity materials and proper ventilation.
  • Reduce stormwater impact through low-impact site development strategies – including recharging runoff onsite – to mimic the site’s original, forested state.
  • Achieve the highest ever Built Green certification score of 850 points.
  • Developed in conjunction with an adjacent 150-unit YWCA Family Village workforce housing community. Together, they form a transit-oriented development adjacent to a regional transit center.  


Duane Reade is the first US retail pharmacy in New York City to electrify its truck fleet as part of a pilot program with Smith Electric Vehicles. Duane Reade is part of the Walgreens family of companies and the largest drug store chain in NYC.

The vehicles are ideal for urban delivery applications that demand heavy stop-and-go driving. Smith Electric medium-duty electric trucks will be included in its delivery fleet.

The “Newton” vehicle has a range that exceeds 100 miles on a single overnight charge and can carry over 16,000 pounds. Its average annual operating cost is 33%-50% of conventional diesel trucks. The electric truck is virtually silent and features a regenerative braking system that reduces wear on the brakes while restoring charge to the battery.

All new and renovated Duane Reade stores have LED lighting, which is reducing power consumption by 40% a year. The efficient lighting allows the stores eliminate energy consumptive air conditioning units, which were previously needed to mitigate the excessive heat produced by traditional light sources.

Other companies in NYC that are buying Smith’s electric trucks include Frito-Lay, Coca-Cola and Down East Seafood.