WSB visits One Straw Farm

On Monday our 3rd grade class started their gardening block, and to kick it off properly we went on a field trip to One Straw Farm. Our gracious hosts, Joan & Drew Norman, have been running the organic farm since 1983. Joan took us on a grand tour showing us the land, animals, and farm equipment; and she had us tasting lots of vegetables and berries along the way. She even sent us off with our pockets loaded with peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, and one giant butternut squash each! Below is a slideshow of our day on the farm. Be sure to check out & support One Straw Farm at the 32nd Street Farmers’ Market in Waverly every Saturday.

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4th Grade Camping in Southern Maryland

Last week, I had the pleasure of camping for 3 days at Point Lookout State Park in Southern Maryland with Mrs. Harris and her 4th grade class. We started the trip with a stop at Calvert Cliffs State Park to hike and hunt for fossils along the shoreline of the Chesapeake Bay. We then made our way to our site to set up camp, cook dinner, tell stories, and sleep. The next day we traveled West to St. Clement’s Island Museum where we learned about the arrival of the first Marylanders from England. The rest of the day was spent exploring Point Lookout, getting wet, building campfires, eating s’mores, exchanging ghost stories, and deeply sleeping. On Friday, we headed to historic St. Mary’s City for an entertaining and informative day about Maryland’s first city and capitol. Enjoy the slideshow below:

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And if you’re curious, you can check out last year’s 4th grade exploring the same region HERE.

Be a Clean Energy Home

Good Yard Sign at Conrads 015Today I want to encourage you to switch your home’s electricity supply to a clean, renewable resource. So please pull up a chair and take 4 minutes to read this post.

As you may know, the utility industry was deregulated in the State of Maryland in 1999. Before then you had no option but to buy your electricity from BGE. Over the last decade new service providers have been popping up, some of which offer green energy. In Maryland, green energy is primarily supplied by wind and solar farms that are located in the western part of the state, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Some companies tap locally-sourced energy directly into the grid and others purchase Renewable Energy Certificates which ensures the electricity you use is supplemented by renewable resources on some grid somewhere in the USA — of course, locally-sourced is great, but either one is a good thing.

BGE has made it super easy for you to switch to any supplier you want, while they maintain the responsibility of delivering your power. And there are no fancy gadgets to buy or install. Plus, you won’t get another bill every month — it will be integrated into your monthly BGE bill — everything except your supplier stays the same. So there’s really no reason why you can’t power your home with a 100% renewable resource.

The BIG Question: Is it expensive? Nope . . . according to the national average it’s typically the about the same or only a fraction of a cent higher per kilowatt-hour. So depending on your usage (which you want to reduce as much as possibly anyway) it may only add a few dollars to your monthly bill.  If you can afford it, a few extra bucks is nothing for the piece of mind of knowing you’re contributing to the growth of our green industry and a clean energy future for your children.

So now that I convinced you to make the switch (I hope), I’ll tell you how to make it happen. I’ve looked at and compared all the companies that service the Baltimore region and weeded through them — I’ve settled on 3 that offer clean energy supplied through either partial or 100% renewable resources. Each company has different plans — some plans have a cancellation fee if you break the contract’s length, some don’t. Here’s my breakdown:

Clean Currents –  50% or 100% renewable fixed rate plans. Offers 1 or 2 year service contracts. There is an early termination fee of the lesser of $150 or $20 per month left on the contract; however, no fee if you move properties. This company offers both locally and nationally sourced energy plans. Clean Currents is my top choice (and you’ll find out why in just a minute).
Stream Energy – 100% renewable fixed or variable rate plans. Offers month-to-month, 6 month, or 1 year contracts. An early termination fee of $75 or $150 applies only if the 6 month or 1 year contract is broken — again, no fee if you moved.
Viridian Energy – 20% or 100% renewable fixed or variable rate plans. Offers month-to-month variable rate plans or 6 month fixed rate plans. There’s an early termination fee of up to $50 if the 6 month plan is broken — no fee if you move.

Ok . . . so there you go. All you have to do is click on one of those 3 websites and click through them to sign up — it takes only a few minutes (literally!). Have your current BGE bill handy so you can answer all the questions quickly. (If you want to do your own research, I found those companies on a list of alternate suppliers that be found HERE).

Please comment below and let me know if this info was helpful, and if you’re committed to making the switch to clean energy in your home (or business). If you’re (awesome and are already) ahead of us and made the switch a while ago, please let readers know which company you chose and why.

Within the next few weeks I will be working with a Washington Waldorf School alumna who works at Clean Currents on an incentive program that will directly benefit WSB and our garden! I’m also looking into having her come to our school on Earth Day to do some demonstrations for students and parents. So keep checking in!

Thank YOU for reading!
Michel