The Fresh Market (Latham) Grand Opening 8/18

On Wednesday, August 18, The Fresh Market opens in Latham. It has had a long-anticipated arrival, since the area does not have many stores like this.  This is the first Fresh Market store in New York, and it will be interesting to see how it does, as well as how it compares to stores like Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods.

The Fresh Market will be a unique store, from store design to the products carried.  According to an interview with a Fresh Market Manager by the Troy Record, the store is “reminiscent of old-world European markets.”  I am looking forward to local, organic, and natural products that they carry.  They also have a selection of some gluten-free products, which I know will be useful to many.

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Farnsworth Middle School Butterfly Station & Organic Garden

Every summer, Farnsworth Middle School runs their Butterfly Station as well as an organic garden & farmers market. You can go for a tour of the butterfly garden and browse through a variety of classroom exhibits, such as displays of metamorphosis. My daughter enjoyed doing some crafts and other hands-on activities after watching the butterflies up close.

There is also an organic garden and market, and you can purchase a variety of produce grown and sold by the students.  It is nice to see the gardens and browse through the fresh-picked vegetables that the students have put so much effort into.

The gardens are open until August 13th, so check out the work the students have done!

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Supporting local business

There is a great local resource for supporting local business, Capital District Local First.  There are so many reasons to buy local, from supporting local economy to developing a strong sense of community, to of course supporting the environment.  Capital District Local First has a directory of independent local businesses sorted into categories.

Buying produce from local farms is also a great way to support local businesses and the environment.  The other day, I passed on buying asparagus from the grocery store, as it was grown in Peru.  I would much rather buy fresh asparagus that was grown nearby, and you can easily find it from farmer’s markets to places like Gade Farms (Guilderland).  One of my favorite websites for finding locally grown foods is Local Harvest.  It is a great way to find a CSA (community shared agriculture) or farmer’s markets.

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Great American Backyard Campout – June 26th

This weekend is the Great American Backyard Campout!  This event encourages families to get outside and enjoy nature, whether it is in your backyard or a park.  If you haven’t been camping or to one of our local parks, maybe now is the time to check one out, especially since our New York State Parks have been in danger of being closed.

There are  a lot of things going on this weekend, which should be a great way to start the summer break!  Check out the calendar for things like free fishing at Grafton Lakes, to a plant sale at Thacher Park, to guided tours starting at Yaddo Gardens in Saratoga.

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Easy Way to Live Greener #3

Collect rainwater for things like watering houseplants and gardens.

Rainwater collection is very easy!  You can find a variety of rainwater collection systems and storage, from more utilitarian barrels and plastic bins to attractive (and usually more costly) terracotta systems like the one pictured on the left (which is actually “mock terracotta”!).  Where can you find them?  Lowes and Home Depot sell them, and you can check with garden shops too.  Sometimes local towns offer rain barrels at a discount, like the Soil & Water District Office in Voorheesville.  I am also a big fan of for their free shipping, even on a lot of large items like these.

One inch of rain over 1,000′ square feet produces about 600 gallons of water, so collecting water is quick and simple.  This way, you can always have some water on hand for things like watering your garden or many other uses.

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Enjoying the longest days of the year

The summer solstice is coming up on June 21, so enjoy the longest days of summer. I love these nights that are light so late, sitting outside in the cool summer evenings.

There are plenty of events this weekend to enjoy. And it’s going to be hot, hopefully not too rainy, so get outside and take advantage of all this daylight!  This weekend’s events includes a dedication of a new Falls Overlook at Hyuck Preserve in recognition of Bill Waldron’s $500,000 donation.  You can celebrate Father’s Day with a Father-Daughter hike, or celebrate the Solstice by taking a night hike, both at the Pine Bush.  Or, celebrate all those fresh strawberries by going to the Upper Union Street Strawberry Festival.  Check out the calendar especially with all the events coming up as the kids finish up the school year.

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Father’s Day ideas

With Father’s Day coming up, you may want to try out a fun, eco-friendly gift-wrapping idea.  A few months ago, I had run out of wrapping paper when I was in a rush, and I remembered a whole bunch of old maps I had.  Not only was I able to use the maps as wrapping paper, but we handmade our own ribbon.  You can check out a tutorial for a ribbon on How About Orange, or do a Google search to find other DIY variations.

And there are plenty of eco-friendly gift ideas for dad.  Perhaps it is time to get him a stainless steel water bottle or mug.  There are lots of LED products that dad might enjoy, from flashlights to lamps (or even one of the new dimmable LED lightbulbs from EcoSmart).  There are lots of sustainable bamboo products out there, from cutting boards to fabrics.  It is becoming easier to find eco-friendly gifts as green living becomes more popular, although you may have to find something online, since unfortunately, there are not too many eco shops in the area.  And not only do we use recycled/recyclable wrapping paper, but my daughter loves helping make homemade cards for Dad.

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Easy Way to Live Greener #2

Compost!  This includes things like food scraps, grass, yard clippings, dead plants.

Composting is the decomposing or organic matter, and is very easy to do.  All you need is some sort of composting bin.  Fill it with organic materials from orange peels to tea bags, avoiding things like greasy items.  Maintenance consists of watering, turning, and adding things like grass clippings or leaves.

This is a great time of year to begin composting if you are starting out.  It will fill up quickly especially if you are a member of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture share), and coincides well with doing yard work, gardening, or enjoying summer veggies.

Where can you find compost bins?  Some towns offer discounted compost bins (although I have not found any local towns that do), or you can check with local garden supply stores.  Last year I was pleasantly surprised to see a nice bin at BJ’s Wholesale Club for a decent price.  You can of course purchase bins online, and might be a good option as they offer free shipping (on items over $25) and offer a variety of bins, including the classic type bin pictured on the right.

You may also want to think about getting an indoor composting crock for the kitchen counter.  I have one that fits right next to or under the sink, and throughout the day I throw things in it until it is full and I have the chance to bring it outside.  This goes for everything from some crackers my toddler dropped on the floor to watermelon rinds and corn cobs from a summer cookout.  The indoor bin is especially handy in the winter, when I continually procrastinate taking out the compost (digging a path to the compost bin through snow and ice!).  The compost probably won’t be active (breaking down) during the winter months, but you can continue to add to the bin so that you have more volume when the weather warms up.

And soon enough, you will have amazing compost that you can use for your lawn or garden!

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Weekend events

Hopefully we won’t be having rainy weekends throughout the summer!

I see that berry picking is open at several farms, so if you are interested, you may want to call around to check on the status of strawberries, etc.  We went strawberry picking last year the day the fields opened, and I heard there was not much left by the end of the weekend, and they closed the fields for a while.  I was also surprised to learn that Indian Ladder Farms has cherry picking this year!

There is a lot to do this weekend, from checking out a local Alpaca Farm (Wunsapana Farm) in Altamont, or taking a hike at the Pine Bush or Thacher Park.

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Huyck Preserve receives $500,000 donation

The Times Union just published the news that the Huyck Preserve received a $500,000 donation.

There will be a platform dedication at Rensselaerville Falls on June 19th.

The preserve is located on over 2,000 acres in Rensselaerville.  You can visit the Huyck Preserve website for more information.

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