Tag Archives: advocacy

Connecticut River Valley watershed

Bartons Cove plunge pools

Check out my new article in the local paper on the Connecticut River Valley watershed!

It explains what a watershed is, provides some geological and historical details about the this region in particular, and links to the Connecticut River Watershed Council’s Source-to-Sea cleanup. Here’s a preview of the article:

If you’re like I was a few years ago, you may be wondering, “What is a watershed, anyway?”

In fact, the word “shed” is quite descriptive of this geographic phenomenon. Much like rain cascading down one side or another from a shed’s roof, a watershed can be thought of as a geographic area defined by ridges of high ground that determine which direction water travels en route to a major basin, river or ocean.

A large watershed can encompass many smaller watersheds. For instance, the largest watershed on any given continent is defined by the continental divide. In North America, the continental divide runs along the crest of the Rocky Mountains. Broadly speaking, rivers to the west of the Rocky Mountains flow to the Pacific Ocean, and rivers to the east flow to the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean.

Of course, within these enormous watersheds are many smaller regional and local watersheds. The dominant regional watershed in our area is the Connecticut River Valley, whose drainage basin encompasses five states, one Canadian province and 11,260 square miles.

Approximately 410 miles long and passing through New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut, the Connecticut is the longest river in New England. It starts at a small pond known as the Fourth Connecticut Lake…

If you are interested in improving the Connecticut River’s water quality, see here for details and updates on this year’s Source-to-Sea cleanup. (As of last year, the cleanup project had removed almost 900 TONS of trash from the watershed over the last 18 years!) It’s not too late to jump in – the cleanup runs through the end of the day today!  See you there!

Emerald Ash Borer

"EmeraldAshBorerdorsal" by USDA-APHIS - http://www.hungrypests.com/img/the-threat/emerald-ash-borer/small/EmeraldAshBorer6.jpg. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:EmeraldAshBorerdorsal.jpg#/media/File:EmeraldAshBorerdorsal.jpg
“EmeraldAshBorerdorsal” by USDA-APHIS – http://www.hungrypests.com/img/the-threat/emerald-ash-borer/small/EmeraldAshBorer6.jpg. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:EmeraldAshBorerdorsal.jpg#/media/File:EmeraldAshBorerdorsal.jpg

Alas, it has been a long time since I’ve update this blog! Work and a host of other time-occupiers pulled me away for a while, but now it’s mid-summer and I’m back! The trees are fully leafed out, the chickadee are losing the fight with the squirrels for the birdfeeder, and the foxes in the neighbors’ wood lot bark back and forth to each other in the middle of the night for reasons known only to themselves.

In other news, I’ve written an article in the local paper on the Emerald Ash Borer – check it out:

What’s tiny, shiny and destroys fully-grown ash trees as well as any fire-breathing dragon?

Yes, it’s the emerald ash borer, that infamous pest from Asia, whose larval feeding tunnels can girdle the inner bark of an ash tree, cutting off its supply of nutrients and water and eventually starving the tree to death.

The adult emerald ash borer (EAB), as its name suggests, is a bright, iridescent green beetle, about ⅓ inch long. It has a coppery-red upper abdomen that is often hidden under its wings.

Although the adult EAB does chew on the leaves of ash trees, this is not the primary source of trouble. Rather, the female EAB, which lives for about six weeks, can lay anywhere from 40 to 200 eggs in the tree’s bark. Fertilized eggs hatch about two weeks later, after which the larvae chew tunnels through the outer bark and into the inner bark. This is the real source of trouble for the tree because those serpentine tunnels ….”

To continue reading, follow this link:


Happy Fourth of July weekend to you all!


On the demise of Organic Gardening magazine

I have been a devoted reader of Organic Gardening magazine for a number of years, ever since ordering my first trial issue via an advertisement printed on an aluminum foil Stonyfield Yogurt lid (!). However, I recently discovered that Organic Gardening is being “re-branded” as Organic Life magazine. For the past several days, I have been mentally composing a distressed letter to the decision-makers. It goes something like this:

Dear Organic Gardening decision-makers,

I am shocked and saddened to hear of the “rebranding” of Organic Gardening magazine into something called Organic Life. Organic Gardening was a unique, 70+ year old magazine; Organic Life is neither. More disturbing, this change clearly signifies a shift in target audience from the producer to the consumer. Just what the world needs – more consumers! Although almost anyone with even the tiniest plot of land (including a rooftop or an abandoned parking lot) can be an organic gardener, not everyone can have an “organic life”. In fact, as the owner of one small New Hampshire beef farm said, “I can’t afford to eat my own meat.”

Your old audience was willing to stand in the mid-afternoon sun, sweat pouring off their foreheads, backs aching and covered in dirt, pulling carrots out of carefully prepared soil. Your new target audience, I fear, is big-city foodies who are more interested in how pretty that carrot looks on a plate than in how it got there. Though Organic Life promises a gardening component, this shift in emphasis feels, to me, like a betrayal of your roots at every level. If you felt like something was wrong with your decision, this is it: Organic Life will join the ranks of a number of magazines of similar ilk (I can think of five or six off the top of my head), while simultaneously leaving farmers and gardeners, literally, in the dirt. The recent explosion of the localvore and food justice movements (including a proliferation of community gardens, CSAs, school gardens, farmer’s markets, farm-to-school endeavors, veterans’ farms, inner city gardens and farms, etc.) calls for support and guidance, not abandonment.

Your recently published Organic Gardening Special Collector’s Issue, which I assume will be the last, profiles J. I. and Bob Rodale, both highly politicized, radical pioneers of the organic food movement. Though this issue purports to pay homage to these highly respected farmers and activists, I find it more likely that both of these men, unfortunately, are rolling in their graves. Unless my predictions prove wrong (in which case I apologize), I will, with great sorrow, be canceling not only my own subscription, but my gift subscriptions as well.


What do you think?