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Quote of the Week
“High quality water is more than the dream of the conservationists, more than a political slogan; high quality water, in the right quantity at the right place at the right time, is essential to health, recreation, and economic growth.”
- Edmund Muskie, U.S. Senator, speech on March 1, 1966

Search the Almanac Archives
Past issues of the Conservation Almanac are now searchable through the VCS website! Trying to relocate that recipe for stuffed bluefish you saw this spring? Just type "bluefish" into the small white search box at the top of the VCS homepage.

An Atlas of Local Food
The Island Grown Initiative has a wonderful resource on their website. This map, detailing 41 individual locations, will help you find just about any local meat, cheese, or produce you could ever need, straight from the farm stand. And check out the rest of the IGI site as well, for information on school programs, gleaning days, and even help for beginning beekeepers.

Conservation Calendar

Cape Spin

Tuesday, August 2, 7:15 to 10:00 pm
, at the Union Chapel, Oak Bluffs.
The M.V. Film Society presents a sneak peak screening of Cape Spin: An American Power Struggle, a new documentary exploring the "epic battle" over wind development in Nantucket Sound. Doors open at 7:15, film starts at 8:00. Admission $10, $7 for members. At the Union Chapel, 55 Narragansett Ave.

Vineyard Farm Project
Tuesday, August 2, 7:00 pm
, at the Ag Hall in West Tisbury.
Please come to a public meeting to discuss the future of Thimble Farm. The Vineyard Farm Project is an effort to preserve permanently the former Thimble Farm as a sustainable, working farm that will produce food for Island residents in perpetuity. Free.

Drawing From Nature

Thursdays, Aug. 4 and 11, 1:00 to 4:00 pm, at the Polly Hill Arboretum.
Learn art techniques to record observations of the natural landscape with Diane Nicholls, painter, illustrator, and landscape historian. $35 non-members, $30 members. Please call to register and for additional information including supply list, 508-693-9426.

Down Island Farmers' Market

Tuesdays from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm at the Tisbury Wharf.
The Down Island Farmers' and Artisans' Market is on through Sept 6 this year. Collect your fresh local produce, and sample the wares of the many vendors. On the harbor at the Tisbury Wharf, 144 Beach Rd, V.H. Free parking available.

Birds on the Beach
Saturday, Aug 6 from 9:00 to 10:00 am at State Beach, Oak Bluffs.

Walk the beach with a Felix Neck shorebird biologist, observing and collecting data on terns, plovers, and oystercatchers. FREE. No registration required, meet at the State Beach access trail on the Oak Bluffs side of Big Bridge.

Community Chores
Saturday, Aug 6 from 9:00 to 10:00 am at the FARM Institute, Katama.

Spend the morning like true farmers feeding and watering the animals! A great activity for the entire family. Suggested donation of $10 for families, $5 individuals. For details call 508-627-7007.

Window to the Sea
Saturday, Aug 6 at 8:00 pm at the Tabernacle, Oak Bluffs.

National Geographic Underwater Photographer Brian Skerry will deliver a presentation titled "Window to the Sea." From Mr. Skerry: "My hope is to continually find new ways of creating images and stories that both celebrate the sea yet also highlight environmental problems." Free will offering.

Eelgrass Restoration
Thursday, August 11 at 5:00 pm at the Tisbury Senior Center.
Jay Baker will present his work on eelgrass restoration with conservation (elastic) moorings. His slides illustrate the impacts of traditional moorings on eelgrass and the results of restoration with elastic moorings.

In Season Recipe

Zucchini Bread

This delicious quick bread is one of the best ways to put those overgrown zucchini to work.

  • 3 local eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 325 F. Grease and flour two 8x4 inch loaf pans. In a large bowl, beat eggs until light and frothy. Mix in oil and sugar. Stir in zucchini and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, salt and nuts. Stir dry mix into the egg mixture. Divide batter into the 2 pans. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until done.
Monday, August 1, 2011

Local News

VCS Ponds in Peril Forum Spurs Action to Clean Lagoon Pond, Expand Aquaculture

Cultured clams, photo courtesy of USDA NRCS

Nancy Phillips and the residents surrounding Lagoon Pond first became seriously concerned about nitrogen loading in the pond following the VCS Ponds in Peril forum in July of 2009. Alarmed by presentations showing that nitrogen in the Lagoon was already at 127% of the “tolerable Nitrogen Load,” as per the MV Commission, the Lagoon Pond Association quickly took action on several fronts. A petition was circulated, bringing the issue to the attention of the Oak Bluffs Selectmen, and a joint Tisbury/Oak Bluffs Lagoon Pond Committee was created. Inspired by a talk at the Ponds in Peril forum by Rick Karney, Director of the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group (MVSG), there was great interest in aquaculture as a partial remedy, and the Joint Committee sent letters to elected officials and administrators requesting, among other solutions, the re-opening of the old Massachusetts State Lobster Hatchery in Oak Bluffs.
Last week, the lobster hatchery was rededicated for shellfish aquaculture as part of a multi-faceted effort to improve water quality in the Lagoon. During a signing ceremony Friday, use of the facility was granted to the MVSG. The agreement, signed by Rick Karney and Paul Diodati on behalf of the state, provides additional growing space for the production of scallops, oysters, and quahogs. Where the primary threat to water quality is nutrient loading (as is the case in Lagoon Pond), aquaculture can provide two benefits at once: in addition to being a valuable commercial resource in their own right, these shellfish are filter feeders, reducing excess nitrogen in the water. For more information on the re-opening ceremony and the Shellfish Group’s plans for the hatchery, see the recent newspaper articles.
As reported in the newspapers, much of the credit for making the hatchery re-opening a reality goes to state officials, in particular Division of Marine Fisheries Director Paul Diodati and Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Mary Griffin. However, the drive to clean up Lagoon Pond, and the seed of the idea to explore aquaculture as one method, began with local community action.
The rapid turnaround from the Ponds in Peril forum to the re-opening of the hatchery (described by Ms. Phillips as, “warp speed for such municipal and public/non-profit cooperation”) is a remarkable testament to the power of community action. VCS is proud that one of our educational programs played an early role in spurring efforts to improve water quality in the Lagoon, but most of the credit goes to those residents who brought the issue to the attention of government officials, and kept the pressure on such that real action is now occurring.

VCS, Moshup Trail Project Benefit at Gay Head Gallery

Rez Williams, "Moshup Trail"

The Gay Head Gallery will celebrate its Grand Opening (after a ten year hiatus) with a show to benefit the VCS and the Moshup Trail Project. An Artists' Reception will be held Sunday, August 14 from 5:00 to 8:00 pm. In addition to the exhibits, leaders of the Moshup Trail Project will give background and updates on this complex project, including oral histories from some of the key players. The gallery is located on State Road in Aquinnah, on the left 0.4 miles past the turn to Lobsterville. Please park along the road with all 4 tires off the road.

From August 12 - 26, an exhibit of paintings, photographs, and other works of art inspired by the globally rare coastal heathland habitat of the Moshup Trail area will be on view, and available for purchase at the Gallery. Works by a number of artists, including Doug Kent, Steven Kleinrock, Ellen Liman, Peggy Roth Major, Lucy Mitchell, Steve Lohman, Mary Elizabeth Pratt, Julia Purinton, Linda Thompson, Dan VanLandingham, and Rez Williams, among others, will serve to inspire each of us to participate in this important conservation effort. For more information, please call Megan Ottens-Sargent, Director of the Gay Head Gallery, at 508-645-2776.

Other News

Meat Eater's Guide to Climate Change + Health

The carbon footprint of beef is double that of most other meats, according to a recent study by the Environmental Working Group.

The Environmental Working Group has just released their Meat Eater’s Guide. Apart from the questionable verbal aesthetics of encouraging us to eat "greener" meat, it's an excellent resource for helping consumers make smarter choices in the meats they buy. The guide addresses the health benefits and risks of different meats, as well as the widely varied environmental impacts (one of the most interesting pieces being a study comparing the total carbon footprint of many meats and vegetables.)
EWG is perhaps best known for their annual guide to pesticides in produce. However, from an environmental standpoint, the choices we make regarding our meat consumption are considerably more important than whether we choose organic or “conventional” produce. Because so many pounds of feed are needed to produce a pound of meat, the environmental benefits of organic production are magnified. Unfortunately, however, so is the cost. More important, the carbon footprint of meat greatly exceeds that of milk, eggs, and vegetable proteins. Buying local (and especially pasture-raised) meat greatly reduces the amount of fossil fuels needed to truck fertilizers, feed, animals, and processed meat (refrigerated, no less) around the world. From the perspective of global climate change (not to mention national security, energy prices, air pollution, and others), greater benefit would come from reducing our meat consumption, even rather modestly, and/or reducing the miles it travels, than convincing everyone to buy organic.
Reducing consumption is the message behind the Meatless Monday movement being promoted by chef and author Mario Batali on behalf of EWG. Armed with Chef Batali’s meatless recipes, EWG is working to convince 100,000 people to pledge to skip meat one day a week. The pledge is a great idea as a motivational tool, and even a creative way to institute a new family tradition. But on an island full of creative people, I don’t see a need to limit our motivational tools to something so simple. Personally, for example, awareness of meat’s outsized carbon footprint simply led to my reducing portion sizes in general. It turns out that, despite what every restaurant thinks, I don’t really need a half pound burger when I’m grilling them myself. But, while effective (surely I’ve reduced my meat intake by more than one seventh, which is all Chef Batali is asking), I’ll be the first to admit to a lack of creativity in my approach. Post your suggestions to our Facebook page, or email us; if we get enough replies, maybe we can put a list of the best meat reducing motivational schemes into the next Almanac.

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