Living Sustainably: Two programs help share the blessing of fresh produce

By Lisa Uganski, Ottawa Food

Using the specially labeled buckets, patrons at participating area U-pick farms can provide fresh produce for people who normally wouldn’t have access to it.

Summer is almost here, which means it’s time to enjoy the fresh fruits and vegetables grown here in West Michigan. There is nothing quite like the taste of a just-picked blueberry or tomato. However, many members of this community don’t have access to the juicy strawberries, sweet corn and the abundance of other fresh local produce that so many look forward to each year.  Fortunately, you can help provide these healthy items to those in need by participating in one of the following programs, and you’ll be supporting local growers at the same time. It’s a win-win!

Purchasing a bucket of U-pick produce for the Ottawa Food program will benefit people who don’t normally have access to fresh produce.

Pick for Pantries: Ottawa Food will partner with some local growers again this summer to implement Pick for Pantries. This program allows U-Pick patrons at participating local produce farms to donate a portion of their pick to local food pantries (and other food resource agencies) on select dates during the growing season.

You can head out to Visser Farm’s U-Pick Strawberry Patch (7200 112th Ave., Holland) on June 11, 13, 18, 20, 22, 25 and 27 (weather permitting) to pick your own fresh strawberries and help support local food pantries in the process.

Just grab a green bucket with the Ottawa Food logo and fill it up with as much as you would like to donate. Buckets will be set aside and picked up by one of several participating food resource agencies, and the berries will be distributed to community members in need.

In July, Pick for Pantries will take place at Bowerman Blueberries, Crossroads Blueberries and Rasch Orchards (cherries).

In the fall, Pick for Pantries will take place at Rasch Orchards and Grange Fruit Farm, where apples can be picked and donated. Specific dates for these opportunities will be posted later in the summer and fall at www.facebook.com/OttawaFoodCouncil, based on weather and farm availability.  Please visit Ottawa Food’s Facebook page throughout the growing season for more information.  Help spread the word by sharing this information with family and friends as well.

Fresh produce bought at the Holland Farmers Market can be provided to people in need through Ottawa Foods Produce Donation Program.

Produce Donation Program: You can also get involved by participating in Ottawa Food’s Produce Donation Program at the Holland Farmers Market.
Every Wednesday from June 19 to Sept. 18, a donation table will be staffed at the market from 9 a.m. to 1:30 pm. Stop by and pick up a donation bag at the Ottawa Food table. When you’re finished shopping, bring your produce donation back, and it will be distributed to those in need within 48 hours.
We are blessed to live in an area that harvests such a wide variety of fresh, healthy food. Please consider helping to make our community a stronger, healthier one by sharing this local food with others!

 Lisa Uganski, RD, MPH, is the coordinator of Ottawa Food, a collaboration of local agencies and individuals working to ensure that all Ottawa County residents have access to healthy, local, and affordable food choices. If you would like to get involved with Ottawa Food, please visit www.OttawaFood.org for more information.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Community & Neighborhood: The places we live and the individuals we interact with support the development of our personalities and perspectives on life. Encouraging vital and effective communities is essential.

ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

Living Sustainably: Bike Holland rides offer fun cycling intro

By Jenny White, Bike Holland
The third annual Bike Holland Series kicked off at the Green Commute Expo back in May, but the rides will continue to roll out from Velo City Cycles every other month through September.

Maybe you want to meet more people in town, or want to get more exercise, or want to lower your carbon footprint, or want to learn more about riding your bike safely around town in the comfort of a group setting?  Whatever your reason, this ride is for you!

The City of Holland created a 40-Year Community Energy Plan with the goal to reduce the city’s per-capita greenhouse gas emissions from the baseline level of 24 metric tons in 2010 down to 10 metric tons by 2050.  One of the target areas of the plan includes reducing fuel used for transportation.

Photo courtesy City of Holland

The goal of Bike Holland is to educate community members about the benefits of commuting by bike. Bike commuting is a great way to make our community more sustainable – economically, socially, and environmentally – and empower people to feel safe and comfortable riding around the community.

We want to get community members to unplug, get outdoors, get healthier, and spend time with friends and family by hopping on a bike for their next trip!

Photo courtesy City of Holland

At previous rides, 30 to 80 cyclists have joined in. We estimate that around 150 individual riders have been involved so far.  If the group is large, we split into smaller groups for safety and also to accommodate shorter ride options for children and less experienced riders.  Participant ages have ranged from 6 months to 80 years. We recommend that kids be 7 years or older to ride on their own.

All types of cyclists and bikes are welcome. You must bring your own bike. Helmets are required for this casual and social ride.

“Through attending Bike Holland rides, I not only solved my problem of learning good places and routes to ride, but I also met many local cyclists who I now ride with regularly three years later,” said Martin Harris, a Holland resident, Herman Miller employee and cycling enthusiast.

Before hitting the road, be sure to check out the city’s website at   www.cityofholland.com/bikeholland for videos, tips, rules of the road, and resources for bikers.  For additional information and resources about biking in Holland visit the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council’s website at www.the-macc.org/transportation/nonmotorized/.

The remaining Bike Holland downtown ride dates are the following Mondays:  June 10, Aug. 12, and Sept. 9. Rides start at Velo City, 326 S. River Ave., Holland. Arrive early enough to be ready for roll out at 6:00 p.m.

 Jenny White is co-owner of Velo City Cycles and Bike Holland organizer.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Transportation: The movement of people, goods, and services within the area is an evolving system that links us to our regional, national and global networks.

ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

Living Sustainably: The right gear can “green up” your summer picnics

By Emily Hamilton ’19, Holland-Hope Sustainability Institute Intern
Memorial Day is here, and I don’t know about you, but my family always has a huge picnic to celebrate the kickoff to summer!

Keeping the right gear on hand can make your holiday picnics and other summer events that much more “green” and sustainable.

This is a time when many of us are grilling out, hosting parties, and enjoying the outdoors with our families. As you plan your Memorial Day picnic or other get-togethers, keep in mind ways that you can make your event more sustainable.
Over the years, my family has done many things to lessen our picnic’s impact on the environment.
One of the ways that we do this is to avoid using single-use items. For instance, we use the same oil-cloth table clothes every year, instead of plastic ones. We have designated “picnic silverware” that is an assortment of mismatched, second-hand metal utensils we specifically use for these events. If a fork gets
lost, it isn’t a big deal, and this reduces the amount of plastic used.
Additionally, we encourage people to bring their own water bottles, and we provide a water dispenser as opposed to offering plastic water bottles.
Of course, it is difficult to completely avoid single-use items. However, you can easily cut down on plastic by purchasing aluminum cans and glass bottles.  Cans and bottles are easily recycled, but make sure your guests know where they can recycle during the event. My family provides separate bins for recycling that are clearly labeled. We write a sign that designates the receptacles for cans and bottles.
Image result for summer picnic and freeWe also might use disposable plates, but we make sure they are paper plates or ones that are compostable. You can purchase sugar-cane plates online that are entirely biodegradable.

Stay away from Styrofoam and plastic whenever you can. If you do use single-use plastic cups, provide a marker so that guests can keep track of their cup and beverage. This will cut down on the number of cups used by each person.
The menu is also important to consider when planning a sustainable summer barbeque.
Burgers and brats are almost synonymous with grilling out, but beef is not the best for the environment. Large amounts of resources, such as water, go into producing beef. Cutting back on your consumption of beef products is an easy way to lessen your environmental footprint. Consider serving grilled chicken and vegetables.
If you do choose to serve meat, “shop local” from a local butcher shop.
No matter what you are serving, consider buying it from your local farmer’s market. Having farm fresh fruit and vegetables is not only tasty, the waste is compostable too.
And when cooking the food, it is best to use a propane gas grill with a cover on it, since charcoal grills emit much more carbon dioxide.
With these tips, I hope you can plan and enjoy your sustainable summer party!

 Emily Hamilton is a recent Hope College graduate who received her degree in environmental management. She has worked with the campus Green Team and the Holland-Hope Sustainability Institute. She hopes to continue advocating for the environment and sustainable choices in a future career.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Environmental Awareness/Action: Environmental education and integrating environmental practices into our planning will change negative outcomes of the past and improve our future.

ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

Living Sustainably: Dig them tulips! Program helps plant community pride

By Jodi Syens, Holland in Bloom
Image result for holland in bloomDo you really dig the tulips? Well, here’s the chance – to dig ‘em up, that is.
The annual Tulip Dig, sponsored by the City of Holland and Holland in Bloom, is scheduled this year for 9 to 11:30 am. Saturday, June 1. Participants are encouraged be there when it starts, as bulbs run out quickly.
To join in, head to one of three city facilities and dig out tulip bulbs to take home for replanting. The locations are: Window on the Waterfront, at Sixth Street between College and Columbia avenues; Centennial Park, at 10th Street between River and Central Avenues; and the three tulip fields at Windmill Island Gardens. The cost for participation is $10 for a five-gallon bucketful. Participants must provide all necessary supplies, such as the bucket, shovel, and gardening gloves.

The public is invited to come and dig up this year’s tulip bulbs to recycle them into their gardens and sustain the community beauty.

Those planning to dig tulips simply must check in and pay at the chosen park, have their bucket tagged, and receive instructions before starting to dig. Tulips may only be dug on the date and times specified, with no digging prior to the 9 a.m. start! Maps and FAQ’s with additional instructions are posted on www.hollandinbloom.com and the Holland in Bloom Facebook event page.
The city annually plants in excess of 400,000 quality tulip bulbs purchased directly from the Netherlands. In some areas, such as these three prominent city parks, the bulbs are replanted every year.
Prior to 2013, these bulbs were simply dug up or mulched into the ground in preparation for planting new bulbs in the fall. Holland in Bloom proposed that people be given the opportunity to dig up the bulbs and take them home for replanting. The Tulip Dig not only assists the city’s Parks Division staff, who are busy getting tulip beds replanted with summer annuals, but also provides participants with quality tulip bulbs.

A shovel, pail and strong back – and $10 – are all that’s needed to claim a bucketful of this year’s fading tulips.

Holland in Bloom celebrates “the pride planted in our community” through a variety of sustainability and beautification efforts.
The city participated in the America in Bloom National Competition from 2011 through 2016, receiving a 5-out-of-5-bloom rating as well as an Outstanding Achievement Award in one of the six criteria categories in each of those six years. Holland also won the top award in our population category for five years (2011-2015).
In 2017, Holland competed in the Communities in Bloom International Competition, winning the Large Communities category and receiving a 5-bloom silver rating.
Last year, Holland in Bloom focused on supporting significant community efforts such as “The Oz Project” and the urban tree inventory. And it has again entered the America in Bloom National Competition for 2019, so that these and many other important efforts can be highlighted.

  Jodi Syens is a member of the Holland in Bloom Committee and has been involved in the program since it was started in 2011.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Quality of Life: The community, through governmental, religious, business and social organizations, makes decisions that contribute to its own well-being.

ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

Resources from our Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore Series

Our friends at Herrick District Library have put together a great listing of additional resources from our Spring 2019 Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore Series.  Check them out at the links below!

Stay tuned for our announcement later this summer about our Fall 2019 series topics.

Green Commuting

The Affordable Community

Economics of Sustainability

Search results for LSATL lists

Living Sustainably: Green Commute Expo offers info and fun at Holland Energy Park

Information about charging stations and owning and driving electric vehicles will be part of the Community Green Commute Expo set for Tuesday evening.

By Michelle Gibbs, Hope College Office of Sustainability and Colleen Nagel, Holland Sustainability Committee

“Green commuting” might sound complicated to some, but it’s not. In fact, the “why, where and how” will be explained Tuesday evening, along with other fun activities, as part of a free Community Green Commute Expo at Holland Energy Park.  The family-oriented event will focus on green commuting options in the greater Holland area. The expo is the last in the spring 2019 series of Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore events.

At the Expo, people will learn about:
Why we should green commute We will hear about the health, environmental, and economic benefits of green commuting as well as how it relates to Holland’s 40-Year Community Energy Plan.
Where we can green commute The Macatawa Area Coordinating Council will share information about the transportation plan and area bike trails, and the Outdoor Discovery Center will provide information about the Greenway Trails for travel.
How we can green commute Local bike shops and green commute groups will have areas to demo bikes, do fun bike decorating, and offer tips on maintaining your bike for safe riding. MAX Transit will share information about services and routes and will have on hand a bus to let visitors practice putting a bike on and off the bus bike rack. Local residents will attend with their personal electric vehicles (EVs) so you can look under the hood, sit inside, and ask questions about their experiences with EVs. (Sorry, no test drives.) And the Holland Board of Public works will have a station for EV education and charging station rebates for residents and business owners.

Tips and routes for bicycle commuting will be part of the presentation at the Community Green Commute Expo Tuesday evening.

Other Expo activities will include the kickoff of the third annual Bike Holland Series. Those who bring bikes to the Expo can ride the trails of Holland Energy Park or take a fun ride out and around Windmill Island. Go to   https://www.facebook.com/bikehollandmi/ for more information.

And with the weather warming, the Expo will also include the City of Holland’s Operation Polar Patrol offering frozen treats.

This Expo is part of the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council’s annual Green Commute Week, beginning today, May 12, through Saturday.  It’s not too late to join in the Green Commute week fun and track your miles! Green Commute Week is all about making transportation decisions that are good for your health and the planet. And since everything is more fun with friends, teaming up is encouraged.  Register today and start tracking your miles at www.the-macc.org. What counts as Green Commuting? Some examples include walking, biking, carpooling, riding the bus, telecommuting, or driving a fully electric car.

And we’ll see you Tuesday as we have fun learning about all the benefits of green commuting!

Community Green Commute Expo
When: 6 to 7:30 Tuesday, May 14
Who: The whole family is invited
Where: Holland Energy Park
Cost: Free

 Michelle Gibbs is director for the Hope College Office of Sustainability and the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute. Colleen Nagel is a member of the City of Holland Sustainability Committee.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Transportation: The movement of people, goods, and services within the area is an evolving system that links us to our regional, national and global networks.

ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

Living Sustainably: Rethink, Reuse, Recycle with Holland BPW during Tulip Time

By Morgan Kelley, Holland Board of Public Works

The Holland Board of Public Works is excited to be the official Tulip Time Conservation Partner for the seventh year in a row and, as such, to help the community “rethink, reuse and recycle” to help boost sustainable practices in our community.

Along those lines, consider these opportunities:

Rethink your transportation choice for navigating Tulip Time by taking the MAX Tulip Time shuttle. The shuttle offers optimal convenience for getting around the festival, and it’s also better for the environment. You’ll save time by avoiding heavy traffic and limited parking; you’ll also reduce your carbon emissions. Check the interactive map for details and routes at www.tuliptime.com/visit/transportation.

Reuse a refillable water bottle. Bring your own bottle, and as you explore the festival, you will find free water bottle filling stations. There is no need to buy disposable bottles of water when you can conveniently refill!

Recycle acceptable materials. You will find recycling bins around the festival, promoting stewardship of our resources.
Meanwhile, the Holland Board of Public Works will be helping Tulip Time paint the town orange.

The Holland Board of Public Works will help “paint the town orange” for Tulip Time by handing out orange hard hats for kids before the Kinderparade Thursday.

Before the Kinderparade on Thursday, May 9, we’ll be passing out orange hard hats for kids and other conservation tips. The West Ottawa Robotics team (WOBOTS) and their robots will be assisting us.
In addition, partially guided tours of the Holland Energy Park will be held during Tulip Time. Tours are on a first-come first-served basis and will be held Monday through Thursday mornings from 10 to 11:30 a.m., as well as Monday through Wednesday afternoons from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Participants need to arrive no later than 10 minutes after the tour start time. More information can be found at www.hollandenergypark.com/events/ or by contacting the HBPW visitor programs specialist at (616) 355-1213.
The Board of Public Works has been a community-owned resource since 1893 and strives to be environmentally responsible while providing reliable and economical electricity, water and wastewater treatment, and fiber services to the Holland community. Find more details about the Board of Public Work’s role as conservation partner at www.tuliptime.com/green.

Remember to Rethink, Reuse, Recycle: See you at Tulip Time!

 Morgan Kelley is the conservation programs specialist at the Holland Board of Public Works where she tracks and administers residential energy efficiency programs and represents HBPW at community events.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Community & Neighborhood: The places we live and the individuals we interact with support the development of our personalities and perspectives on life. Encouraging vital and effective communities is essential.

ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

Living Sustainably: Native plants are beautiful and beneficial

By Sarah Irvin, DeGraaf Nature Center

Leaving dead flower heads attached over the winter, like on this native evening primrose, provides organic art, as well as shelter for hibernating insects.

This growing season, you can help reintroduce native plants to our otherwise cultivated landscapes of non-native or invasive plants and monocultures of green grass. Including native species in your yard will bring beauty to your life; benefit our local ecosystem, and save you time, money, and energy!

Here are some of the benefits:

Create an artistic display We have the privilege of seeing the many forms of native plants and their dynamic seasonal displays, from showy flowers and beautiful fruits and seeds to brilliant fall foliage and organic winter forms.

Keeping fallen leaves and twigs in your yard through the winter creates wonderful protection for hibernating animals like these garter snakes, as well as insect larvae and pupae.

Benefit our wildlife Native plants and animals have evolved alongside one another, becoming essential to each other’s survival. These specific plants provide higher quality shelter and food, ensuring better survival all of the way up the food chain. Including plants of variable heights, such as trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants, creates layers of habitat, allowing more animals to live in the same amount of space.

Conserve water, and keep our waterways cleaner Non-native plants require more water, as well as extra accommodations such as pH and soil adjustments, and rely on the use of fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides for survival. Native species keep these chemicals out of our community and conserve water. They also provide flood and erosion control; their fibrous roots go much deeper than non-native alternatives, increasing rainwater infiltration, which reduces storm water runoff, increases water quality, and limits the amount of pollution and sediment reaching our waterways.

Eastern hemlocks are an amazing native tree that block so much sunlight with their needles that they create a cooled microclimate, which can lower air conditioning costs.

Reduce the impact that our gardens have on our climate Native plants do not require as much mowing, therefore reducing fuel consumption, as well as noise and carbon pollution. Long-living trees also can remove existing greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from our atmosphere.

Limit maintenance time Some native plants grow into dense groupings, or drop leaves and twigs that act as a natural mulch and weed suppressant.

Reduce money spent on plants and accommodations Because these plants evolved here, they are more resistant to damage from freezing, drought, common diseases, and herbivores. Some varieties also live for many decades. Planting many different types of native plants will better protect your whole garden from disease and environmental stress, making it more resilient against non-native introductions.

Conifers and other native large trees provide ample habitat for animals like this great horned owl, whereas smaller herbaceous plants shelter owl’s prey.

For anyone looking to add some of these beauties to their garden this year, DeGraaf Nature Center is having a Native Plant Sale. We will have numerous species of native wildflowers, shrubs and trees available from a local grower who specializes in Michigan genotypes. These are plants whose genetics were influenced by a long history of growing locally, and will therefore be more successful in your garden.

 

If You Go
What: Native Plant Sale
When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, May 18
Where: DeGraaf Nature Center, 600 Graafschap Road, Holland
Why: Improve your yard’s ecosystem

 Sarah Irvin holds degrees in geology and terrestrial ecology and is a naturalist at DeGraaf Nature Center.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme
Environmental Awareness/Action: Environmental education and integrating environmental practices into our planning will change negative outcomes of the past and improve our future.

ABOUT THIS SERIES
Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.