The Sentinel: "‘Green’, lean enviro machines featured at Old Colony Voke fair"

Edith Shi | Mar 26, 2010

By Gretchen Grundstrom, March 26, 2010. By 1 p.m., Bunny Mogilnicki’s bucket of pussy willow and curly willow cuttings was almost empty.


“Sales are good,” Mogilnicki, owner of Bunny’s Bouquets in Rochester said at the fourth annual Green Fair held at Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical High School on the first day of Spring last Saturday.


Earlier that morning, the tree and shrub clippings that Mogilnicki was selling for $2 each were crammed tightly in a white bucket of water. Though Mogilnicki, who has a masters degree in horticulture, said the cuttings were among her strongest sellers that day, she was also enjoying brisk sales of herbs, perennials like daffodils and hyacinths, and ferns, aloe, and other houseplant varieties.


“If people have plants in the house, it cleans the air,” Mogilnicki’, who has owner her flower show for seven years, said.


Mogilnicki was among 37 exhibitors proudly showcasing their green products and environmental organizations at the Green Fair sponsored by Old Colony, the Taunton River Watershed Alliance (TRWA), and The Environmental Advocate for the Massachusetts South coast (TEAMS).


“It’s a great venue,” Joanne Corrieri-Upham, secretary of TEAMS, an advocacy group that works to protect water resources, said of holding the event at Old Colony Voke.


For the past three years, the Old Colony Voke’s Green Fair has been held at the Ted Williams Camp in Lakeville. This year, Old Colony was chosen because it is larger and the energy efficiency upgrades recently undertaken at the school work harmoniously with Green Fair’s objectives in promoting environmental responsibility, Upham explained.


“It all fits in perfectly,” she said.


Rochester resident Max Wickemeyer, a TEAM volunteer member and judge in this year’s photo contest agreed.


“The Green Fair is really the pinnacle of the TEAMS outreach,” he explained, while walking over to a wall stuffed with photo entries.


Keeping this year’s theme of “Nature in Transition” in mind, judges awarded Donna Leobruno of Lakeville first place for her photograph of a partially submerged tree stump with vibrant new growth shoots emerging from the bark. The photo was taken at Great Quittacas Pond in Lakeville, part of the Assawompsett Pond Complex (APC) that provides drinking water to residents in New Bedford and other communities. TEAMS offer guided tours of the APC every other month.


There were 42 photo entries this year Wickemeyer said pointing to the various pictures of butterflies, flowers, and serene wilderness scenes. Maryanne Kirkbride of Wareham took second place for her photo of a bright orange ground cherry lying in a blanket of fallen leaves and Joanne Gurney of East Freetown won third for her picture of crabapples laced with snow.


Next to the photo display, Jackson Madnick was busy touting a breakthrough lawn seed developed in Wayland, Massachusetts. The low maintenance “native and adaptive” fescue selling for $30 for a five-pound bag only needs to be cut once a month he said.


Featured on This Old HouseChronicle, and in The Boston Globe, Pearl’s Premium lawn seed mixture does not require fertilizer and other than an initial watering when it is spread, only requires watering in times of drought Madnick said.


“Most of the grass around here doesn’t belong here,” Madnick explained. “It’s healthier to not use chemicals. This is all about making a better world.”


Pearl’s Premium can be purchased on-line, at Whole Foods markets, and at a variety of non-profit environmental outlets and workshops.


At a nearby table, representatives from Nexamp, a four-year old solar photovoltaic firm in North Andover pitched their products to agricultural landowners.


“Farms are great. There is this huge, open area of no trees,” Palmer Moore, Manager of Market Development said.


With 25 percent of Nexamp’s clients farm owners harvesting cranberry bogs and other types of crops, Moore encouraged farmers to investigate USDA subsidies for installing solar powered electrical panels. “The incentives they get are incredible,” Palmer said. “For a farmer, it’s a no brainer.”


On an adjacent wall, Karen Kullas a volunteer with the Department of Environmental Protection from Berkley was busy pitching a product that consumers could get for free. Sticking her fingers in various stages of decomposing organic matter, Kullas explained the composting process.


Banana peels, coffee grinds, and bread made up the first bin with subsequent bins layered with leaves, water, dirt, and worms in various stages of the decomposing. Leaves, grass, and kitchen scraps, except for meat and milk, can all be used for composting.


“That’s it in a nutshell,” Kullas said. “It’s easy.”


For $25 to $40, residents can purchase compost bins from their local Department of Public Works, Kullas said. Homeowners can also choose to invest in an Earth Machine composting system, she said.


Next door, Sheila Cook of the TRWA explained the advantage of the Taunton River’s recent wild and scenic designation by the federal government.


“It allows us to be eligible for more funding to keep [the river] clean,” Cook said.


Once a year, the TRWA sponsors a canoe trip that accommodates 30 to 50 people.


This year, the trip will take place on June 12 and 13. The group camps overnight in East Bridgewater at Camp Titicut and continues along the Taunton River ending at the Weir.


“It’s the bomb,” Cook, gushed enthusiastically. “I saw a bald eagle the first 10 minutes of my first trip.”


At an adjacent table, the Massachusetts Audubon Society displayed photographs of endangered animals in Massachusetts. The least bittern, a small pale brown marshland bird with white stripes is a focus of the group’s campaign to protect habitats. With only 32 nesting sites, including one at the APC, Priscilla Chapman, and a Taunton River Massachusetts Audubon Advocate said habitat loss and climate change implications threaten the birds and other species.


“Species like the least bittern are going to be even more on the brink,” she said. “We’re doing whatever we can to protect these areas.”


At a nearby table, honey and candy from 15 hives of honeybees was on sale from The Beekeeper’s Daughter in East Taunton. And in the middle of the room, Green Feather Herbs owners Jacqueline Ryan and Zackary Boissonneau were busy explaining their 10 tea blends and other body and face care offerings from their five-month-old Fall River company.


“Everyone has swarmed to the tooth powder today,” Ryan, who took an herbal apprenticeship in Boston, said.


Arrowroot, baking soda, sea salt, and cinnamon or peppermint essential oils make up the ingredients in the tooth powder that works just like a tooth paste, Ryan said, except you dip your toothbrush in it. Also, there is no fluoride, dyes, or other chemicals in the powder.


Behind that table, astronomy photos featuring lunar craters, Saturn, and other galactic images were on display from the Starhoo Observatory in Lakeville. Though the photos were not for sale, owner Mike Renzi said he would gladly give them away to further his cause of educating the public on “how light affects the night.” Nocturnal animals such as owls and other creatures are affected by “light pollution,” he said, pointing to a picture taken from space of North America at nighttime illustrating blinding lights ablaze.


“Rochester is a beautiful town,” Renzi said. “You want to preserve what is up there. You have to reconnect with it,” he said.


Since the Apollo moon voyage in 1969, Renzi said he’s been gravitating to the stars and recently designed his own observatory.


“It’s sort of an evolution of the hobby to have an observatory,” Renzi said, adding that he thinks of it as a “starship.”


Across the room, an Earth-friendly and pocket-friendly residence from designer Carol Fisher of Charlestown was on display. The New Bedford South End five-unit dwelling was built using material from local suppliers. Fisher, originally from Wisconsin, said her design mimicked the principles she finds attractive in the community.


“I’m drawn to the area,” Fisher said. “The consciousness of the area. The cooperative spirit.”


Across the room, owners Daniel Jones and Janice Leary-Jones of SoBerry Clean of Bourne were “super excited” to explain their unique solution for washing laundry. Soapberries from India and Nepal were selling briskly for $2.75 for a cotton pouch containing six berries. The Joneses said the berry, the size of an acorn, has a natural surfactant in it called saponin. The pouch is simply tossed in a washing machine and can be used for six loads. Then, the berries can be used as compost.


And behind that table, Olde Maids, Inc. of Rochester owners Marsha Hartley and Nancy Boutin were in a lather touting their old fashioned, homemade cleaning products.


“We make it with our own little hands,” Hartley said.


After becoming all too familiar with the harmful effects of using abrasive cleaning products after scrubbing houses together for 18 years, the bubbly, energetic twosome embarked on business venture seven years ago to create products that would “save lungs and the environment.” The laundry powder, soaps, and all-in-one natural products use ingredients like tea tree oil and are kid and pet friendly.


Olde Maids, Inc. products can be found at Down to Earth in New Bedford, How on Earth in Mattapoisett, the Old Company Store and Tihonet Market in Wareham, Marion General Store in Marion, Lloyd’s Market and Bev Loves Books, both in Rochester.


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