Welcome to Transition Harrisburg! We are working to create a more sustainable, resilient and livable community... one person at a time. Join us!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Greenhouse work days

We will be working at the greenhouse in Reservoir Park this week: Tuesday at 8:00 am and Thursday from 3:00 pm to 5:30 pm.

We have almost two beds seeded with onion, Swiss chard, kale, collards, Chinese greens and carrots.

This week, we will continue to clear out the beds and to chop down the tree growing in the greenhouse, if someone can bring a hand saw and loppers.

The mulch pile is producing some nice compost, but we would like to build some compost bins for food waste. Old wooden skids (pallets) work well for this.

Please also bring water for the newly planted seeds. Old plastic gallon jugs are a good size to work with.

Remember to wear long pants and long-sleeve shirts, closed shoes and work gloves. The mosquitos are fierce at the greenhouse!

If you have access to thin, fresh bamboo, about 12' long, we can start to create the frames for the hoop houses.

Thank you all for your enthusiasm. We are rebuilding a healthy, connected Harrisburg!


Please bring any of these items for the work days:
garden shovel
hand saw or limb saw
pruners or lopper
tap water or rain water in gallon jugs
scissors or knife
mortar mix, trowels and mixing bucket to rebuild the cold frames (and someone who knows how to do this) :-)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Gift Circle highlights

Here is a paraphrase of what Charles said about gift circles:

Everyone has stuff that they almost never use (lawnmowers, blenders, weed-whackers, cars, etc.). Wouldn't it be better if we could share these things? How many snowblowers do we really need on one block? We want to share things, but there has been no mechanism in place, but a Gift Circle restarts the process.

In the first round, you state what you need (babysitting, house repairs, guitar, etc. etc.) and if someone has what you need, they offer it right then. You write down the name and contact info and then continue to the next person.

The second round give everyone the opportunity to state what they have to give to see if anyone can use it.

In the third round, you express gratitude for the gifts from the last circle.

This is the opposite of a money-based economy. This circle helps us rebuild community and saves us money, too. It is a way for us to adapt to a "de-growth" economy. It is a psychological shift away from independence to interdependence and obligation, to cooperation rather than competition. In some ancient cultures, it was a grave offense to refuse a gift.

This Gift Circle will continue to meet at least twice a month, either before Transition Harrisburg meetings or some other day that works best for the group.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The film Gasland will shown in Harrisburg

Here's a chance to see Gasland and to meet the filmmaker, Josh Fox. If you're in or near Harrisburg, consider coming to see this award-winning documentary about the lives of folks living with gas drilling. If you've already seen it, see it again and bring a friend.

Tuesday, September 7th at 7 PM in Levitt Pavillion at RESERVOIR PARK in Harrisburg

Plan to be there: Music, GASLAND, Josh Fox and a Panel of Enviro Activists.

For more information, contact:
Nathan Sooy
Clean Water Action, Harrisburg
717-233-1801 office
717-585-2700 cell

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Gift Circle on Thursday, August 26

Thursday's meeting with Charles is now listed on WITF's RSVPA Calendar!

Gift Circle

See you there!

spam and emails and filters, oh my!

To everyone on our email list: please check your spam folder for our emails! With our growing list, our messages may wind up there and not in you In box.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Gift Circle on Thursday, August 26

Our next meeting on August 26 will feature Charles Eisenstein who will guide us through a "Gift Circle". We will meet at 7:00 pm at The Midtown Scholar, in the upstairs gallery.

A Gift Circle is this, as Charles expains:

Periodically, a group of people meet, sit in a circle, and each person takes a turn stating something he/she needs. Others can interject with "I've got one of those" or "I know someone who can do that," etc. After everyone has had their turn, you go around the circle again, this time stating something you want to give. It could be the gift of the use of something (borrowing tools), or a service (help fixing a car), or anything. Finally, you go around a third time expressing gratitude for something you received from the last time.

The intentions behind this are:
1. To build community. Community is woven from gift relationships, which is why community has so atrophied in an era when we pay for everything and get together only to consume things, or sit around talking about how much we agree with each other.
2. To bring less "stuff" into the wastestream. On my street, practically ever house has a complete set of power tools that gets used maybe 5 hours a year. Why produce new things, when there are so many things that are barely used?
3. To save money and reduce our reliance on the money economy.
4. To create and test-drive new modes of economic exchange that will allow us to thrive as the current system falls apart.
coming together and sharing and gifting, building community.
the gift is friendship and community.
round 1: what you need
round 2: what you have to offer
round 3: expressing gratitude

The idea of the gift circle is we come together to share our needs and services. People help each other out with our needs, and offer their services without expectation of getting anything in return. It’s a way of creating a gift economy (which is different than a trade, local currency, or money system).

People have been gifting each other massages, car mechanic help, graphic design services, bean soup, readings, babysitting, computer advice, clothes, veggies, editing, cleaning, places to stay, rides, help moving house, etc.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Greenhouse and cold frames: here we come!

With the wet weather staying around for the next week or so, clearing out the cold frames should be easy. We'll be able to get lots of cold-tolerant seeds in the ground and will start to have a fall harvest of veggies in about a month!

Let's plan on getting to the plot twice next week, and each week thereafter: times TBD by participants. Please email us [TransitionHarrisburg (at) gmail (dot) com] or post to this blog post as to which days and times work best for you.

We can clear one cold frame and plant several types of cold-hardy plants. A few weeks later, we can have a second cold frame cleared and planted. This way we can have a continuous harvest, and can include as many of the cold frames as we wish. With this method, we can plant and harvest all year 'round, varying the plants with the seasons. Thinning the young, crowded plants will yield tender leaves for salads. As one type of planting (say, radishes) are cleared, we can start more of the same, or try something different!

A great source of information and inspiration is Four Season Harvest, by Eliot Coleman. Some of the plants he uses in his garden in Maine include lettuce, beets, cabbage, scallions, Swiss chard (spring, summer, fall); spinach, radishes, kohlrabi, mizuna, peas (cool months); mache, sorrel, arugula, escarole, endive, chircory, claytonia (winter months).

Just think about it: fresh organic greens all winter long!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Pam's bookshelf...

To start - some definitions

Native Plants - plants that occurred within Pennsylvania before settlement by Europeans. Essentially those plants which were here when the colonists arrived. Includes ferns and clubmosses; grasses, sedges, and rushes; flowering perennials, annuals, and biennials; and woody trees, shrubs, and vines. We have about 2,100 native plant species

Invasive Plants - species that has become a weed pest - one that grows aggressively, spreads and displaces other plants. Although some native plants are aggressive on disturbed areas, most invasive plants are introduced from other regions, leaving behind the pests, diseases, predators and other natural controls that usually keep them in check.

Introduced or Non-native Plants - plants that have been brought into the state and become established. At the turn of the 21st Century, about 1,300 species of non-native plants existed in Pennsylvania. That is 37 percent of PA's total plant flora (about 3,400 species) and more plants are introduced each year.

In addition to the resources I talked about last night [7-29-10] - here are some Native Plant sources that I recommend:

Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay
Tons of free publications and PDF documents. I highly recommend the Bayscapes Homeowners Guide series. Among the best are "Bayscapes for Wildlife Habitat", "Bayscaping for the Long Term", "Bayscaping to Conserve Water", "Conservation Landscapes", "Creating Landscape Diversity", "Homeowners Guide to Designing Your Property" (this one is in full color), "Integrated Pest Management" and "Using Beneficial Plants". Each of these has a suggested reading list at the end. "Yard Care for Bay Repair" is a great fact sheet. Another not to be missed publication is "Citizen's Guide to the Control of Invasive Plants in Wetland and Riparian Areas". Scott would find this invaluable in any Riparian Restoration he might want to do along with "Backyard Buffers" which is a great guide for getting started at home. All that I have mentioned and many, many more are available in PDF format on the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay website.

Audubon Council of Pennsylvania & PA Wild Resource Conservation Fund
"Native Plants in the Creation of Backyard, Schoolyard and Park Habitat Areas" by Marci Mowery
Spiral Bound 75 pp. $10. I couldn't find an on-line source for this. You can get it from Audubon Pennsylvania, 100 Wildwood Way, Harrisburg PA 17110 or call 717-213-6880.

Brandywine Conservancy
"Landscaping with Native Plants in the Middle Atlantic Region" by Elizabeth N. du Pont. 145pps Beautiful line drawings. Spiral Bound so it will lay flat. No on-line source. $19.95. Available for purchase on-line from Brandywine Museum Shop. Be sure to check out the Environmental Management Center of Brandywine Conservancy for more resources both on-line and for purchase as well as links to other organizations. Visit them at this link.

Chesapeake Bay Foundation
"De-tox Your Home: Alternatives to Toxic Household Products" . "10 Things You can Do to Save the Bay". These and more can be found as PDF files at this link.

Dauphin County Conservation District
Lots of resources on stormwater management from small projects for homeowners to large designs for developers. They publish a number of fact sheets and "Stormwater Best Management Practices Tour Map" with takes you on a walk around their property and shows you each type of mitigation in action. I highly recommend this for anyone interested in stormwater management. These publications are also on their website. They are located at 1451 Peters Mountain Road in Dauphin. Don't overlook their seedling sale each spring. This can be an inexpensive way of buying trees (including fruit and nut trees), shrubs and other plants. The plant sale list is posted each February, money is usually due by mid-march and you pick up plants in mid-April. Find them on the web at this link.

Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR)
Several good free publications; "Landscaping with Native Plants", "Invasive Plants in Pennsylvania" "Native Plants for Sunny Dry Areas/Native Plants for Shady Dry Areas". I have several copies of each of these. I'm not sure how you get them. I found the DCNR website a bit difficult to navigate and these didn't come up when I searched under publications. You may find them at State Parks and surely can get them from the DCNR offices locally.

More free publications "Bring Home the Natives" series for "Sunny/Moist", "Sunny/Dry", "Shady/Moist", and "Shady/Dry". Again, I have several copies of these and they don't appear to be available as PDF, but there is a search function that allows you to put in your land requirements and it will give you a list of native plants that would work well there. Website also has lots of information about trees. Additionally, you'll find a very up-to-date list of reputable sources for native plants and trees.

Millersville University - Native Plant Conference
"Native Plants in the Landscape"
This conference held in early June each year has something for everyone interested in Native Plants. From rather technical workshops to "how to get started". A good way to network with other people working on the same issue. Also provides lots of access to publications (many free) and sources for Native Plants. Their Friday night Native Plant sale is not to be missed and is open to the public even if not attending the conference. Conference fees are inexpensive. Find them here. and sign up to be emailed next year's conference brochure. Be sure to check out the link section for other great resouces.

Penn Sate - College of Agricultural Sciences- Cooperative Extension - Center for Biodiversity Research, Environmental Resources Research Institute
Several years ago they put out a nice 30 page booklet entitled "Biodiversity Our living World: Your Life Depends on it!" It's full color and would make a nice short text for home schoolers. Available in full color PDF format at this link. If you search under the title you can find a short lesson plan (and video, I think) on DCNR's website.

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Another source for free information. I recommend "Backyard Conservation" a 30 page full color book with lots of ideas and sources for more detailed information. This one is downloadable and is available here.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
My hands-down favorite publication is "Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping: Chesapeake Bay Watershed" . It has been a number of years since I have seen any free hard copies anywhere, but it is available for download here. Warning: This is a large file 5.3 MB and is over 80 pages in full color. This is my bible. There is much good stuff on the Fish and Wildlife Service website from posters, to Bird ID fact sheets, to guides to wildlife refuges. Visit there main site here.

University of Delaware
While this is not a Pennsylvania book, I find this little 25 page booklet really helpful. It explains why things we commonly plant - Butterfly Bush, Norway Maple, Bradford Pear, English Ivy are not good for the environment and then suggests alternatives. While all the alternatives are not strictly native - they are plants which would not become invasive. Very helpful for the average homeowner. It would been great if we had something like this for Pennsylvania. The pdf is available here and is full color.

I can recommend one hard-cover book The Native Plant Primer by Carole Ottensen. This was one of the first comprehensive books published on using Native Plants for Landscape Purposes. It is out-of-print but is well worth finding used. It is 354 pps and in a large full-color format. Gives you lots of ideas on HOW to use native plants in the landscape not just a listing of charts. There are many many photos.

Finally - each spring our local region, as we defined last night, has several Native Plant Sales. The two best, in my mind, are at the Ned Smith Center for Nature and Art in Millersburg and Meadowood Nursery sponsored by the Manada Conservancy in Hummelstown. These sales are usually in early May and provide an excellent opportunity to talk with knowledgeable sales staff about your needs and types of plants (ground covers, butterfly food) that you are looking for. Check their websites in Feb or March. Manada Conservancy is holding a fall sale in September. Find the info here.

Meeting on Thursday, August 12

We are meeting at the picnic pavilion in Reservoir Park at 7:00 pm, then going over to the greenhouse and cold frames nearby. We have access to the greenhouse and cold frames and will start gardening as soon as possible! Let's find out what cold-tolerant plants we can put in the cold frames. But to get you started in your search, here is a website that lists some we might use: cold tolerant veggies.

Once the cold weather settles in, we can cover the beds with heavy plastic, held up with bent bamboo poles and clothes pins. We should be able to garden year-round!