Food Waste

Food waste is a huge problem in the United States.  Much of it ends up in landfills because of an arbitrary (usually industry or self determined) expiration date, because the food “looks” bad, because our eyes are bigger than our stomachs, because restaurants want us to tell everyone about their portion sizes (even though a lot of it gets thrown away), artificial claims by grocery stores that it’s against the law, shall I continue?  Some quick statistics from: http://www.worldfooddayusa.org/food_waste_the_facts

North American Food Waste Facts

  • In the USA, organic waste is the second highest component of landfills, which are the largest source of methane emissions
  • In the USA, 30-40% of the food supply is wasted, equaling more than 20 pounds of food per person per month

Here’s a nice read from NPR discussing how the EPA and religious groups are working together to divert more of that food waste from the landfill and redirect it to people’s empty stomachs.

What can you do?

Composting?  Volunteering?  Planting a garden and donating the produce?  Turn it into Fuel?  Raising chickens to eat your scraps?

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Egg Punch Card for 2016

In 2015, our chickens laid over 2000 eggs (170 dozen).  We sold 74 dozen and gave away or ate the rest.  We wanted to thank those of you who have been regular customers and continually support us through your egg purchases.  For 2016, we designed punch cards for those of you who are regular EcoRanch egg customers or those people looking for a continuous supply of eggs; buy five dozen and get your sixth free.  If you’re interested in getting eggs and a punch card, please email us, catch us around town, or call.  We would be more than happy to bring eggs into town and meet you somewhere or have you visit us out here so you can see where your eggs come from…and even hold the girls making your breakfast!

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Happy New Year 2016

Happy New Year to you all!  We wanted to write and thank everyone who has so graciously supported us this year through donations of time, sweat, ideas, and money.  We had a slower year than normal in order to obtain our conditional use permit but are proud to announce that all of the requirements have been completed!  We are excited to ramp up food production, continue our educating efforts, and build more connections in our community through partnerships and collaborative projects.  We hope to see you soon and wish you the very best in 2016.  Below are EcoRanch facts and accomplishments over the last few years.

We strive to promote resource conservation, waste reduction, and community relationships and hope that sharing our experiences will help to educate others on the importance of these issues.

Education and Interest

  • 342 hours (2012-2015) have been donated to the Flagstaff community (schools, programs) through educational presentations, consulting, and volunteering.
  • 7,248 volunteer hours (2012 – 2015) have been donated to the Flagstaff EcoRanch from community members, Master Gardeners, local college students, interns, WWOOFers, neighbors, and high schools students.
  • Over 25 educational tours of the EcoRanch have been conducted. These tours provide a tangible example to reinforce environmental and sustainable theories learned in the classrooms.
  • We provide a space for students to fulfill volunteer hours and put what they have learned to use.

Water Conservation

  • In 2015 we saved over 6,170 gallons of water by using alternative flushing methods including using recycled shower water.
  • We collected over 6,000 gallons of rainwater between 2013 and 2015 and have met with neighbors to discuss/educate about rainwater collection practices.
  • Total EcoRanch water use for 2015, which includes us living here full time, our vacation rental guests (April – October), volunteers and interns, plus all irrigation needs = 30,870 gallons of water. That is 102,961 gallons LESS than the equivalent amount of people using water at the average American rate of 100 gal/person/day!
  • Gardening efforts include buried drip irrigation, dry land farming techniques, installing a new 1500 gallon rain barrel, and other water saving strategies.
  • We have low flow toilets, shower timers, low flow faucets/shower heads, use only biodegradable soaps, and collect and reuse shower water for flushing.
  • Permaculture techniques have been applied and berms have been built to keep any rainwater/runoff on our property to help recharge the aquifer.

Harvest Data

  • 3,567 lbs. of food grown between 2013 and 2015.
  • 1,057 lbs. of food donated to local food banks and nonprofits that help support underserved populations.
  • 2,510 lbs. of food sold to local businesses and markets or used to supplement our diets.
  • We do not use synthetic pesticides or fertilizers (only compost, manure, and non toxic chemicals).

Energy Conservation

  • We purchase 100% renewable energy from APS (their “Green Energy” program) for all of our energy usage.
  • New roof with R-24 insulation has been installed to reduced energy losses.
  • We have insulated all windows, electrical outlets, and hot water lines.
  • All electrical cords are unplugged when not in use.
  • We use passive heating and cooling whenever possible.
  • In 2015 we replaced the refrigerator, washer, and dryer with more efficient upgrades.
  • We regularly air dry laundry. This has saved us about $62 this year and reduced our carbon footprint by 803 lbs. and coal usage by 397 lbs. (based on the standard energy mix for Arizona).
  • We are phasing in LED lights as older lighting technology (CFLs) burn out.

Resource Conservation

  • We weigh all of our trash and recyclables each month to increase awareness of our inputs and outputs.
  • EcoRanch = 0.98 lbs./person/day vs. the average American = 4.38 lbs./person/day
  • All food waste is fed to chickens or composted
    • In the US, organic waste is the second highest component of landfills, which are the largest source of methane emissions (a greenhouse gas 27 times more potent than carbon dioxide).
    • In the USA, 30-40% of the food supply that is produced is wasted, equaling more than 20 pounds of food per person per month.
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Honey Bees

A big thanks to the wonderful Honeybee Teacher, Patrick Pynes, for coming out and working with our hive.

To give you some background, we were overwintering our hive in Cornville last year.    Usually we would move the hive to Flagstaff for the monsoon season and to help pollinate our garden in the summer.  However, life got the best of us and we never moved them.

Well in that time, the bees’ population grew to the point that they swarmed and requeened themselves.  The new queen mated with Africanized drones in the area which made for a pretty defensive hive so we move them up here in the fall to see is they would “calm down” or even survive the winter.

They did survive and became even more aggressive.  We tried finding the queen so we could remove her and introduce a more gentle queen, but she remained allusive.  It seemed like we might need to eliminate the hive, but to our surprise, she and half the colony swarmed again due to overcrowding.  This worked to our benefit because the new queen that the remaining colony raised, mated with local drones who are much more docile, reducing the colony’s temperament.  We went into the hive on Friday and the changes were drastic.  The new queen had calmed the entire hive, is producing brood, and an abundance of honey that we could even take some for ourselves.

Honey

If you need help with your hives or getting one started, call on the Honeybee Teacher.

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Rain water collection

Thanks to our neighbor and his generosity, we were able to add another 1500 gallons of rainwater collection to our system.  That makes 4800 gallons!  We also installed a water meter on the garden hose to find out exactly how many gallons we use for irrigation….that means more data! But it also means we can learn more about our water use in our home.

Loading the barrel and preparing to move...it fits!

Finishing loading the barrel and preparing to move…it fits!

A nice view for working....maybe some symbolism?

A nice view for working….maybe some symbolism?

It's new home!

It’s new home!

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Water Footprints and Your Food

Ever thought about how much water goes into the things you eat and drink?  Here is a nice article to consider when thinking about your water footprint.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/13/food-water-footprint_n_5952862.html

 

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Row Covers and Barn Improvements

Thanks Hermosa Vida for helping us acquire the materials needed to protect our plants and our tools!

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The row cover offers about a 7 degree buffer from outside temperatures.  This addition to the beds will extend our growing season on the tail ends while offering protection from frost and hail and can be used as a shade cover during June.

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We replaced the rotting, 25 yr old plywood on the sides of the barn (you can see what to old barn looked like), repaired the rainwater catchment system, and then restained the whole thing.  We added some windows to reduce our electricity dependency and with some leftover money, were able to put in an automatic chicken door that opens and closes with the solar cycle and automatic chicken feeders.

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Rethinking Food

This John Oliver clip sums up many of the problems with today’s food waste problems in America.  We need to create better ways to get wasted food into the hands of the disadvantaged and needy, reduce the waste of food in our homes, and rethink our connection to food!  More trips to the grocery stores?  Make less food at a time?  Eat all the leftovers before they go bad?  Buy less when we are at the store?  They all make sense, we just need the will power to make it happen.

Enjoy.

John Oliver: Food Waste

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Beekeeping Class

Hey Everyone.  Attached is a flyer for a wonderful, exciting, and interesting beekeeping class by the Honeybee Teacher, Patrick Pynes. Learn about beekeeping and visit Willow Bend, Flagstaff EcoRanch, and other local beehives.

2015FlagstaffIntensive

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Water Stress

Here’s some good info on areas with stressed river basins from the World Resources Institute.

http://www.wri.org/sites/default/files/uploads/river_basin_map.png

river_basin_map

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