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Environmental groups build community

April 28, 2011

Despite the rain and raw weather, three environmental groups gathered at the Fred Miller Pavilion on Main Street in Honesdale for an Earth Day celebration.

The groups were Sustainable Energy Education and Development Support (SEEDS), the Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Agriculture (PASA) and a newly formed group calling itself Transition Honesdale (TH).

TH, the local off-shoot of the international movement called Transition Towns that began in Ireland and England and has spread around the world, works to promote environmental sustainability and build self-sufficiency at the community level.

The TH initiative believes that lower consumption of energy is inevitable and that it’s better to plan for it now; that we have to act collectively and use the talent of local people to design programs that will lower our dependence on fossil fuels and make us less dependent on outside sources for food.

This latter issue is being addressed with the recent development of a community garden located at the Ellen Memorial Health Care Center, which will make garden lots available for residents of the home and for other Honesdale residents who are interested in growing their own food.

“Currently, we rely on sources of food and energy that come primarily outside our local community,” said Barbara Lewis, a TH member. “The garden project gives us a way to begin to reverse that trend.”

As the group grows in membership, it will focus on other community efforts that will promote a sustainable Honesdale community, like bartering and the sharing of skills.

SEEDS, which has been in operation for three years, focuses on both consumer education and the training local builders to install photovoltaic panels that generate electricity directly from the rays of the sun. Another of its efforts has been to encourage homeowners to use less electricity by monitoring their electric meters that indicate their level of use. It has also trained people to install wind mills that generate electricity off the grid.

PASA members are part of a growing network of innovative farms, businesses and other outlets committed to supporting local food systems, like farmers’ markets. The group holds intensive learning programs aimed at things like farming profitability, using farm interns, healthy herd management, growing organic products, cultivating livestock and other agriculture practices.

For more information on Transition Honesdale, call 570/253-8475. For SEEDS call 570/224-0052. For PASA, call 570/253-5711.