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The Wildnerness Society Features Youth Author Cornelia Funke

A few years back, I took a trip to the San Gabriel Mountains with members of The Wilderness Society. It was a spectacular educational weekend filled with hiking and endless fresh air. To think that after having lived in Southern California for over 10 years, I had never taken the time to explore this grand national park. But I wonder how many more have yet to discover this rich area of bio-diversity?

I was inspired to repost this video of Corneilia Funke’s recent adventure to the San Gabriels. Enjoy!

my wilderness: How children’s author Cornelia Funke hatches her wildest ideas.

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Slow Money Farm Fest

I know it’s been a while since I posted last. I’m here again to tell you a little bit about my involvement with The Slow Money Northern California Chapter. First, you may be wondering what is Slow Money? The term Slow Money was coined to represent sustainable investments; investments that aren’t designed to destroy the planet for profit. It’s more important than ever to practice conscious investing and adhere to the triple bottom line – people, planet, profit.

The nonprofit, Slow Money is an organization that brings sustainable investments to sustainable food systems such as farm projects, food and byproduct waste management and local community food initiatives. It doesn’t actually do the investing, but rather sets up gatherings and showcases to bring investors to the entrepreneurs. It’s a great group of people and a growing movement.

Our latest gathering is the Northern California Slow Money Farm Fest with details below. I’m in charge of organizing the potluck dinner contest with prizes and all. If you are local, I suggest getting your tickets now as it will sell out. There are a lot of foodies up here and we all love to get down in they hay on the farm with some good food and cheer.

Hope to see you on the 25th!

Slow Money Farm Fest

February 25, 3pm-9pm, at Tara Firma Farms in Petaluma

Join Slow Money Northern California’s Farm Fest at Tara Firma Farms in Petaluma on February 25!  Learn more about how to support sustainable food systems, meet the Slow Money movers, and have lots of fun networking with entrepreneurs, investors and our local community!

From 3pm-9pm (rain or shine), you’ll:

  • Tour this locally owned and operated farm
  • Meet local entrepreneurs and learn how they enrich sustainable food systems
  • Talk with Slow Money founder Woody Tasch about our movement
  • Participate in a community potluck, enjoy live music
  • And have some down-on-the-farm fun!

Please bring a dish of homemade food to share (for 3-5 people).

Sign up now – space is limited!

Tara Firma Farms is located at 3796 I Street in Petaluma. The farm works in harmony with land and animals, offering delicious food that balances environmental, community and nutritional needs.

SlowMoney_FarmFest_Flyer


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To Autumn by John Keats

Ah, summer is officially over and the light is beginning to fade in the Northern Hemisphere. Although the diminishing hue casts shadows on some, there truly is something magical about this time of year. Harvest moon, auburn leaves and wonderful Macintosh apples are some of my favorite bits. Here is what poet John Keats connected with.

To Autumn

by John Keats

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,–
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft,
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

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“This Compost” by Walt Whitman

Naturally Green Blog is celebrating National Poetry Month. What a better way than with a Walt Whitman poem. Enjoy!

This Compost

Behold this compost! behold it well!
Perhaps every mite has once form’d part of a sick person-Yet behold!
The grass of spring covers the prairies,
The bean bursts noislessly through the mould in the garden,
The delicate spear of the onion pierces upward,
The apple-buds cluster together on the apple-branches,
The resurrection of the wheat appears with pale visage out of its graves,
The tinge awakes over the willow-tree and the mulberry-tree,
The he-birds carol mornings and evenings, while the she-birds sit on their nests,
The young of poultry break through the hatch’d eggs,
The new-born of animals appear-the calf is dropt from the cow, the colt from the mare,
Out of its little hill faithfully rise the potato’s dark green leaves,
Out of its hill rises the yellow maize-stalk-the lilacs bloom in the door-yards,
The summer growth is innocent and disdainful above all those strata of sour dead.

-Walt Whitman, from the poem “This Compost”

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What Is Your Business Doing For The Planet? By Julie Gengo


Believe it or not this is Earth Day’s 40th anniversary. Of course everyday is Earth Day around here. Thankfully this is not a Hallmark holiday (if it is, I wonder if their cards are made sustainably?) but rather a day to reflect and energize on preserving this planet. So maybe you are doing your part but what about local and global businesses? To my surprise, many have already taken the initiative by reducing their energy consumption amongst other things that lead to CO2 (and other warming gases) reduction. I subscribe to the Environmental Leader daily newsletter which does a great job at filling me in on who is doing what. Maybe most of these companies aren’t making changes for altruistic reasons but rather changes that will save them a ton of money while saving tons of emissions along the way. I can certainly live with that.

One of my goals is to help companies become more sustainable whether by helping them revamp their building energy usage or working with them to green their supply chain. The first thing to do is to take simple steps like changing light bulbs and turning off computers and equipment. According to sustainability specialists, spending a little bit of money up front can save you millions in just a few years.

In SoCal, we have a fast-food restaurant chain called Rubio’s Mexican Grill and I am happy to report that they are one of the emerging businesses who, without mandate of any kind, are doing a tremendous job at reducing their carbon footprint in all aspects of their business. The food is pretty good as well. Go Rubio’s! Check out their eco site and learn more. From hosting local beach clean-ups to, implementing recycling programs to serving sustainable food, Rubio’s is an excellent example of a company that is giving back to the planet with the best interest of the community in mind.

Here is one area where they are making an impact:

Environmentally-Friendly Packaging & Printing
“With an eye towards a greener tomorrow, we plan to eliminate Styrofoam packaging and implement eco-friendly packaging. In several of our restaurants, we are currently testing eco-friendly take-out packaging, with the goal of a 2011 system-wide introduction. In addition, we are exploring compostable plates and take-out bags. In the mean time, it is our hope that our guests will act responsibly and recycle plastic bags rather than dispose of them in the trash. Some of the changes we have already made to improve packaging and printing include:

* Reusable Rubio’s a-Go-Go® Catering bags
* Conversion to Bottle Box™ salad bowls in May 2010. These bowls are made entirely from recycled plastic bottles and are 100% recyclable.
* Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI)-certified paper cups
* Conversion to bio-plastic (compostable) beer cups
* Compostable bleach-free napkins
* Paper menus made from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified paper and 10% recycled materials

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When I Am Among the Trees by Mary Oliver

April is National Poetry Month and if you are like me, that’s a good thing. No cards to buy, no presents to send, just wonderful words placed together that evoke a variety of feelings and emotions. I love to share poems about nature so that we are reminded of why we are eco-friendly, eco-passionate, eco-extraordinary and so on. Often, I’ve sat among the trees and they too have saved me, inspired me to write, sing and just simply shine. I am especially fond of the willows as they tell me secrets of all things wild and free.

Here is poem by the lovely Mary Oliver from her collection — Thirst

When I Am Among the Trees

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily.


I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness and discernment,
and never hurry through the world
but walk slowly, and bow often

Around me the trees stir in their leaves
and call out, “Stay awhile.”
The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say.
“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”

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Expo West – Exploring the World of “Natural” Products by Julie Gengo

Expo West is the premiere showcase for the natural food products industry. Included in that mix are nutraceuticals (natural supplements whose ingredients are derived from food), bottled healthy beverages such as coconut waters, bio-degradable dental products, clean candy, supplements disguised as candy, safe cleaning products, non-toxic cosmetics, spa products, organic beer and wine (my favorite), natural candles and more food that you can sample in one day. It is truly overwhelming and endless. In the three days of the event it is probably impossible to visit every booth. I’ve never done it. Approximately 56,000 people attended this year and I’m sure all walked away with a few handfuls of samples.

I strolled down the isles with my daughter Blu on the first day and on day two, Mike D’Ascanio – founder and CEO of Earth-List.com – whom I assist in outreach and business development. Bringing kids to this event is not uncommon and some of the youth-oriented vendors actually appreciate their feedback. My daughter freely gave her opinion and also managed to get samples that were only supposed to be for retailers. One of her best captures was a very “stylie” SIGG bottle. Yes they are now BPA free and the company is back on track to getting citizens off of the notion the water in plastic bottles is a safe and a healthy way of drinking water. If you want more information on water in plastic bottles I recommend seeing the documentary film, Tapped.

One of the coolest things about Expo West is seeing how many reusable bags you can collect. My daughter managed to get the coolest one from a company called Blue Q who makes reusable bags completely from recycled content. So that’s nothing new but these bags really stand out due to their artistic designs and integrity. They actually pay artists to do their thing. Imagine that? They also gave us a “Free Hugs” coin purse and we love that too!

While some of the companies are massive and you can tell by the size of their displays, location and how much food they serve, others are relatively new to the business and their stories are impressive. Better Life, a green cleaning products company, who began on the notion that cleaning products need to be safe for the environment, safe for the consumer and performance oriented. The co-founders and their families were tired of cleaning up after the mess left behind after cleaning up using conventional cleaners. They hired a chemist and stuck to the motto “Clean Happens” and made it happen.

Right across the isle was seasoned eco-hipster-way-of-life cleaning product line, Method. Their message: “Method Creates Products For People Against Dirty is not only catchy but proves that sustainability can also be “cool” (my favorite word in this blog post). Their new laundry detergent line is so cool from a design perspective that it fits right in with their primary retail outlet – Target’s – new fashion and decor addition, Liberty of London. Visit their website and be entertained with retro-pop jazz music against a colorful animation of their Cradle to Cradle approach to bottle, product and formula design. The liquid laundry detergent is not only non-toxic but also uses 36% less plastic than a conventional product offering the same amount of washes – 50 loads in the size of a soda bottle. This highly concentrated stuff really works. Thanks to a sample packet I just did a load and I’m loving the results.

One the food front, a few companies were in the running for the best hot food samples of the show. My all time favorite has to be Tasty Bites, who hires a chef to cook up some of the best Indian dishes that are premade. I’m hoping that the owner Ashok Vasudevan reads this and sends me a case of everything.

Coming up in a close second is WorldCatch — sustainable, wild-caught seafood dishes that are also ready made. Just heat and serve. Simply Yum!

For cold food, I couldn’t get enough of the hummus and chips made by Falafel Chips an organic chip company that make the best Falafel chips ever – bar none. Their hummus in a bottle, that can be used as a dressing or dip, is to die for. I hope these products find more outlets soon and I hope that the owner reads this and also sends me a case of everything. I want my hummus in a bottle….

We were also fond of a company called Nest Collective which is actually comprised of two companies that are here for the organic greater good of babies and students everywhere. Plum Organics is the leading brand of packaged organic baby food which comes in containers that are BPA free and contains no icky stuff. Revolution Foods is dedicated to changing the way our kids are eating at school. By supplying schools with natural and organic food choices, children will have better chances of avoiding obesity and staying healthy and smart. This is definitely a much needed revolution.

Another wonderful story comes from the owners of H2OM Water – pegged as “Water With Intention.” This wife and husband team had a revelation on their honeymoon to provide pure water with an exceptional message of peace, love, perfect health, prosperity, gratitude, will power and joy. Okay sounds like your typical hippie-yoga water. However, you may be surprised that this water has an eco-conscious footprint as well. It comes in plastic bottles but these bottles are made from 100% post consumer recycled plastic (R-PET) and the plastic is considered safe. That means no leaching. The water is award-winning and comes from one of the purest sources – the San Diego Mountains – a protected part of the 420,000 acre Cleveland National Forest.

Explorer’s Bounty is also a relatively new company on a mission to bring the finest organic food products to market and support organic farming practices around the globe. Some of their products include organic chocolate covered macadamia and other nuts and a variety of organic and shade grown coffees and teas, dried fruit and delicious and nutritious crackers. They even had a project to the visitors to their booth. We were given a bamboo dog stuffing kit complete with organic cotton and organic tote backpack to keep the pup happy. Great marketing for a wonderful company.

Well registration is already up for the 2011 Expo West and if you are a retailer, wellness practitioner or journalist the admission is free if you register in advance. I’m still recovering but it’s definitely worth the trek and nice to be in the company of so many like-minded individuals in one place at one time. Did I mention the food?

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