End of 2014

The 2014 season has come to end.  We are finishing amending the beds and prepping for the 2015 growing season.  We wanted to thank all of our volunteers, interns, WWOOFers, and visitors who have contributed to another amazing year at the EcoRanch.  Below are some quick data and accomplishments for your reading pleasure.  Our resource conservation strategies are working and we have not had to make significant changes in our lives.  Sustainability and being more environmentally conscious do not have to be hard or expensive and most importantly do not have to alter our lives.  Please continue to consider ways you can reduce your resource consumption and feel free to email us with ideas.

Quick Facts and Accomplishments

We strive to promote resource conservation, waste reduction, and community relationships and hope that through our efforts we can educate others on the importance of these issues.

Education and Interest

  • 309 hours donated to Flagstaff community (schools, programs) in educational presentations, consulting, volunteering
  • 6002 hrs ($48,000 equivalent) donated to EcoRanch from community members, Master Gardeners, CCC/NAU/ASU students, interns, WWOOFers, neighbors, high schools [NPA and Upward Bound]; all seek volunteer opportunities/ideas about sustainable agriculture/living
  • Local educators tour EcoRanch to provide a tangible operation to reinforce environmental and sustainable theories learned in classrooms. We provide a demonstration site for people to fulfill volunteer hour requirements and practice what they learn in classes. EcoRanch allows us to cultivate community conversations around conservation and sustainability.

Water Conservation

  • Saved 15,450 gal of water from our well and collected another 6,000 gal of rainwater in 2 years.
    • Met with neighbors to discuss/educate about rainwater collection practices
  • In 2 months we used 13,280 gallons of water. The average American would have used 28,718 gal of water; a difference of 15,438 gal and that includes irrigation of our crops.
  • Gardening efforts include buried drip irrigation, multiple water saving techniques, and no synthetic pesticides or fertilizers (only compost, manure, and non toxic chemicals).
  • Low flow toilets, shower timers, collecting and reusing shower water in toilets, low flow faucets/shower heads, and biodegradable soaps for septic tank.
  • Permaculture techniques applied; berms built to keep any rainwater/runoff on our property.

Produce Production

  • 1057 lbs ($2300 value) – donated to Hermosa Vida/Killip – distributed to low income families in Flagstaff
  • 266 lbs ($1092 value) – donated to Flagstaff Family Food Center and other local food banks
  • 1000 lbs sold to Local Alternative, processed into veggie burgers, sold Flagstaff restaurants

Energy Conservation

  • Reduced our monthly energy use every month since 2012
  • Insulated windows, electrical outlets, and all hot water lines – passive heating/cooling when possible
  • Unplug all electrical cords when not in use
  • Move between upstairs/downstairs in summer/winter to conserve electricity and propane
  • Seeking upgrades to inefficient appliances
  • Air drying laundry = reduction in energy of 364 kWh ($60 savings) in 4 months

Resource Conservation

  • Weigh trash and recyclables each month to reduce inputs and outputs
  • EcoRanch = 0.4 lbs/person/day vs. average American = 4.38 lbs/person/day

Wildfire Prevention

  • Gutters are cleaned and spark arrestors are included
  • Trees/branches near house have been thinned, removed, and mulched used onsite
  • Pine needles/duff raked twice/year in a fifty foot radius around house and reused on property for mulching, water catchment, and reducing evaporation
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Renewable Energy and Planting

With an inefficient house and extremely high energy bills, The EcoRanch has been taking steps to reduce our energy use.  We unplug all electrical devices from the walls when not in use and over the winter, we moved into the basement, although slightly counter intuitive, to a much smaller space to heat up with less windows.  We also spent quite a bit of time researching renewable energy resources like solar, geothermal, and wind.  All are currently out of our budget but we hope to be there soon.  We also spent some time on APS’s website and found some good resources we wanted to share for those who may not know they exist.

When logged in, go under my energy, and then to compare plans.  This tool allows you to get a better rate based on when you use your energy.  You may be able to reduce your bill by running your appliances like the washer/dryer or dishwasher later at night.  APS also offers Green Choice Plans, which we recently switched to.  This allows you, the customer, to purchase either blocks of energy or a percentage of your use from renewable energy resources.  Basically, it will cost you $0.012/KWh extra on your bill.  So, a month at 500 KWh would cost you about an extra $5.00 if you purchased 100% from renewable resources.  Check them out!  For right now, at least we can say we are purchasing energy from cleaner sources.

In planting news, the Flagstaff Foodlink starts program comes to an end this week.  We will get our last set of starts; basil, tomatoes, eggplants, and a few others.  The EcoRanch and Hermosa Vida beds are almost full and it looks like the starts are taking hold in their new homes, coming alive with a deep green and looking quite happy.

We started building and repairing beds over a month ago with the help of Kai and Jackson.  They have since moved on to new adventures, but their work remains foundational in our progress this year.  After all the beds were ready, we got to the fun part of planting.  Our lives were made much easier with the help of 3 students from Dr. Pollak’s Sustainable Botany course and our Intern from ASU, Kelsey.  Addison, Michael, and Christopher created a garden plan for the Hermosa Vida beds for credit/volunteer hours and Kelsey used a program called growveg.com (we recommend checking out this website) to create her plan for the EcoRanch beds.  It’s hard to wrap your head around organizing 2500 starts, numerous varieties of seeds, and how to plant all them efficiently.  It has been extremely helpful to have a layout ready to go for the season that we can follow along with.  Emily, our recent WWOOFer has been here for about a month and, sad to say, is leaving at the end of the week.  She has been doing the work of 4 people, using the plans to get all the plants into the ground, modifying them when needed, and not to mention taking care of the chickens, hoop houses, watering, and helping out whenever she can.

Thanks to everyone who has helped us get to this point in the season and thanks from our future harvesting success!

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Yoga in Wheeler Park

Try some yoga in Wheeler Park and help support the EcoRanch while relaxing and getting stronger.  Contact Katie for her next session @ 520.245.9002.

Yoga in Wheeler Park

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Yoga and EcoRanch

Katie Reed, a certified yoga instructor and NAU student came to our Bed Building Bonanza a couple weeks ago with the NAU Student Philanthropy Council.  She was impressed with our efforts and has been kind enough to give her support to the Flagstaff EcoRanch by offering yoga classes in exchange for donations food scraps, compost, chicken feed, wood, or food items to help feed our volunteers.  She will be leading a course in Wheeler Park on May 14th from 10 to 11 am.  Check out her flyer below and contact her directly with any questions.  Thanks for your involvement Katie!

Enjoy the snow today Flagstaff!

Yoga – Katie Reed

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Certified Nonprofit

Great news everyone, we just found out yesterday that the IRS finally approved our 501c3 status…so the Flagstaff EcoRanch is an official nonprofit!  We hope you all had a great Earth Day and keep up those earthy activities all year.  We spent the day getting our hoop houses ready for over 200o starts that will be planted this season and we also spent some time with Krystle Henderson from Channel 12 News.  Check out our interview:


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Bed Building Photos



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Incredible Volunteers

Yesterday’s Bed Building Bonanza was an amazing experience for the Flagstaff EcoRanch and we made so much progress on Hermosa Vida’s raised beds.  Thanks to all of you who showed up and donated your hard work and sweat.  The plants will appreciate it, future classes that visit will appreciate it (probably because they wouldn’t have had to build them…hahaha), and the families that will be receiving the fruits and veggies of your labor will appreciate it.  Thanks to Hermosa Vida, Killip for their bus to shuttle families out, SNAIL and Dr. Pollak for the use of their tools, Local Alternative for the delicious veggie burger donation made with EcoRanch kale, everyone who contributed to the potluck, Roots Composting for a great composting workshop and the donation of a yard of exceptional compost, Flagstaff Foodlink and their starts program, ASU Barret Sustainability Club, NAU classes and students, NAU Student Philanthropy Council, the Master Gardener’s program and volunteers, neighbors, community members, and WWOOFers; all for helping get an incredible amount of digging and heavy lifting done.  We finished two beds (25′ and 54′) and are almost finished with the last three (48′, 54′ and 60′).  We’ll be posting photos in the next few days after everyone sends them our way, but we wanted to fill you in on the progress we made and say thanks to all those who made this possible.  There is a really strong community of people in Flagstaff who see the importance of sharing knowledge, creating a community together, strengthening that community for for the betterment of everyone in Flagstaff, and recreating our local food networks.

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Bed Building

Don’t forget we are having our Bed Building Potluck this weekend.  Try to carpool, and if you can, bring some food scraps fro compost, a dish for the potluck, or some yard tools to share.  Learn about our exciting new collaboration with Hermosa Vida, our existing collaboration with Local Alternative and Teppa Burger, and learn how to build lasagne beds, hoop houses, and more.  Saturday April 12th from 9-4, come and go as you please.

6685 W Leonard Ln



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Class to Patagonia

Unfortunately the EcoRanch can’t offer this course to Patagonia but Jeff can if you are enrolled with NAU.  Take Bio/Env 499 Energy and Ecology.  See details below and spread the word if you know anyone interested.

This course is an interdisciplinary, experiential opportunity designed for students seeking exciting new ways to learn and engage with the NAU curriculum. Students will be engaged with biology, environmental science, politics, culture, sustainability, systems thinking, and service work while living in the backcountry of Patagonia, Chile for three weeks. The central theme for this course is the HidroAysén project; a major hydroelectric energy plan designed in response to increasing energy demands. Students will investigate how this project could impact flora/fauna, hydrology, gaucho culture, policies, and the pristine environment of Patagonia, Chile. Students will experience first hand the affect climate change has on ecosystems, policies, and life in remote areas. Students will get their hands dirty working on local farms, learn sustainable living techniques, and help construct new trails and buildings. The major goal of this course is for students to apply theories, topics, and curriculum normally learned inside a classroom directly to the environment and culture they are immersed.   Check out the flyer below:

Patagonia Flyer

Or you can take Bio 571 – Field Biology of Zion National Park this May.

This course is an interdisciplinary, experiential opportunity designed for students seeking exciting new ways to learn and engage with the NAU curriculum. Students will engage with biology, environmental science, politics, sustainability, and history while exploring Zion National Park. This hybrid course will run from May 9th to May 30th with the in person meeting from Friday evening May 16th until Wednesday afternoon May 21st. Students will be responsible for readings, presentations, discussions, experiments, and participation in all activities.   Any questions, please contact Aaron.Tabor@nau.edu or Jeffrey.Meilander@nau.edu.

Zion Flyer

Real quick water data for you…we saved 300 gallons this month.  Contact us about ways to save water at your home.

Water Data

Finally, don’t forget about our Bed Building Bonanza Potluck April 12th from 9 am to 4 pm.  We will be building beds for Hermosa Vida, eating delicious food, and having workshops over bed building, hoop houses, composting, and small scale gardening.  We hope to see you there.  As always, please try to carpool.

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Eggs for Sale

These chickens are not foolin around!  Come and get some fresh eggs, and hang out with the girls too…$5/doz!  Call or send us an email if you would like a dozen or two.  We can bring them into town too.

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