Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Little Village Gets a Charging Station...

East Hampton's historic village center is being put on the map again...the map of Electric Vehicle Charging Stations in Connecticut, that is.

Congratulations to our little town for:
1. Participating in the Neighbor to Neighbor Energy Challenge
2. Earning enough points/community rewards to get us a FREE EV (electric vehicle) charging station
3. Reviving the Clean Energy Task Force

The Neighbor to Neighbor (N2N) Energy Challenge has 14 towns in CT participating and has been going on for about 3 years.  The goal is to get the residents to reduce their energy usage by 20%.  One of the ways people started getting involved was through Home Energy Solutions energy audits, like the one my family did in 2009.  (You can read about my energy audit here.)

By the way, on the leaderboard for participating towns, East Hampton ranks #7 out of 14!  Not too shabby.

Yesterday, July 26th, at 11am, I attended the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Electric Vehicle charging station in the village center of East Hampton.  There are no other charging stations around us for at least 15 miles.  The town's Economic Development Commission worked with the Town Council and the CT Department of Energy & Environmental Protection in choosing the Airline Trail trail head in East Hampton's village center as the location for the charging station.  The town hopes that the station will draw drivers of electric cars to stop in the village center to charge up and while they do they can frequent the many small businesses in the center, or take advantage of the newly extended Airline Trail for recreational purposes. EV car owners will know about the location of the station because it will be added to the directories of charging stations which comes up right in the car's navigation systems, on apps and online.

Someone pointed out to me yesterday at the ceremony that it's kind of rare that East Hampton is on the cutting edge of something like this, or that we'd be in the category of "Early Adopters" (as it's referred to on the GREEN bell curve) as having a charging station.

The ceremony was short & sweet.  There were a few speeches and Jackson Chevrolet was kind enough to drive over a Chevy Volt electric car to demonstrate the use of the charging station.  Notable attendees included Town Council Chairperson Sue Weintraub, Town Councilman Kyle Dostaler, Town Manager Mike Maniscalco & his assistant, State Senator Art Linares, State Representative Melissa Ziobron, Economic Development Commission representative Jamie Bell, alongside a few residents and media.

So what does it cost to use the charging station?  Right now, it's FREE to users.  I was told the cost was approximately $1.67 to charge the car, or maybe per hour - it wasn't clear exactly, but the cost is pretty minimal.  Eventually the town will likely install a credit card swipe system to the charging station and you'll pay it that way.  I see it as a good thing for the town.  The local businesses in the village center can now add to their websites that they have a charging station nearby, and hopefully anyone coming in to charge will stop and frequent our village merchants.

Congrats, Belltown, for getting a little bit GREENER this week!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

It's Time for Farmer's Markets!!!

I'm a HUGE fan of shopping Farmer's Markets during the season for all of the things that I don't grow in my garden, and for some of the special things like freshly baked breads and artisanal cheeses.  Like you, I have favorites markets to visit, but I'm always open to trying out new ones.

This is a short video I really liked called How To Shop at a Farmer's Market and it was filmed here in CT at the Westport Farmer's Market.  Check out how creative their produce signs are!

How do you find the farmer's markets?  The State of Connecticut Department of Agriculture's 2013 brochure lists this year's "certified" Farmer's Markets, but there are many more that pop up without being on the list, as well as several special market events, like one of my favorites in the entire state, part of Old Lyme's Midsummer Festival, the Market En Plein Air.  (This year's festival is July 26 & 27.)

I've blogged about Farmer's Markets previously in the posts Good News for Alternative Energy in CT & Farmer's Markets, CT Farmer's Markets Opening, and GREEN Summer Finds - I don't want to rehash what I've said before, but just remind you that the markets are open or opening soon!  I'm so excited!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Rainy Day Realtor Realism

We're in for loads of rain the next few days as Tropical Storm Andrea hits the South (stay safe my friends!) but that doesn't stop me from going out to show properties in the rain!  This is what I wore to go show a condominium this morning in the pouring rain:

This is what I should have worn:

Photo from Northern Safety & Industrial 
The place was beyond disgusting.  I'm still too traumatized to talk about it.  I had to go home to take a Benadryl and a shower afterwards.  The sellers had 2 full days notice that we were coming, but couldn't be bothered to pick up the the dirty laundry we had to step over to go up the stairs, or the cat poop on the floor.  I can't even tell you how bad it was.  2nd filthiest place I've ever shown.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Charter School + Urban Farm + Environmental Education Center = Awesome

This weekend, for No Child Left Inside's Great Park Pursuit, combined with CT Trails Day, my family ventured down to New Haven to the Common Ground High School, Urban Farm and Environmental Education Center.  Until last week, we had no idea there was a charter high school hidden in the woods in New Haven, or that New Haven even had any woods!

We were not disappointed with our choice of places to visit.  Common Ground was pretty amazing, and a school I would choose to attend if I had the choice.  Or maybe attend as a summer program. Which, by the way, they do offer.  They also have vacation camps, open farm Saturdays, and host special events such as birthday parties.

We enjoyed touring the gardens, hiking the trail to the summit of West Rock Ridge, visiting the chickens, turkey, ducks, goat & sheep, the greenhouses, peeking into the school building, and making our way up to Judges Cave.

I found the hike to be challenging because it was fairly steep, but there were children of all ages hiking along side us, and my little ones thought it was fine.  Plus the view from the top was fabulous.

The youngest in our family very much enjoyed the poultry yard, where she was allowed to pet or pick up any chickens who would allow it.

Meanwhile I was oohing & ahhing over the gardens.  Their market garden supplies the school cafeteria as well as farmer's markets and farm stands.  They use sustainable farming practices like rain barrels and are organic, though not certified organic.

It all equated to a really nice family outing and lots of opportunities to talk about sustainability.  I have a feeling we'll be back with friends for an open farm day and maybe see if we can volunteer to help with something while we're there.