Archive for September 4th, 2011

Last-ditch efforts to save dying Iran lake


Last-ditch efforts to save dying Iran lake


Posted 03 September 2011, by Staff (Agency France Presse), Google News,


TEHRAN — Efforts to stem the rapid drying up of Iran’s largest lake took a political turn this week after arrests were made in a local protest against the government?s inaction on the ecological disaster.

One of the largest salt lakes in the world and classified as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, Lake Orumiyeh has lost more than half of its surface over the last two decades due to drought and the damming of rivers feeding it.

The lake could be dried out in the next two to four years and lead to apocalyptic consequences if no urgent action is taken, according to local officials and environmental experts.

The lake’s disappearance would leave behind 10 billion tons of salt and jeopardise the lives of millions of people as well as the local agriculture, according to Orumiyeh lawmaker Javad Jahangirzadeh.

The parliament refused in mid-August to fast-track a rescue plan presented by local lawmakers to save the lake, which is situated between East and West Azarbaijan provinces in the northwest.

The refusal provoked Orumiyeh residents to demonstrate on August 27, only to be repressed by force, according to several Iranian news websites.

The confrontation was criticised by Jahangirzadeh, who warned officials against politicising “an environmental issue.”

Lake Orumiyeh “should neither become a security issue nor should it be politicised. It is a social and environmental issue that should be solved,” he said at a meeting of experts on Friday carried by the conservative website

“We should not confront the protests. Instead, we should better think of a solution,” he said, while acknowledging that the demonstration was “illegal.”

Jahangirzadeh said 99 percent of his constituents considered the lake to be a sensitive issue.

The city’s Friday prayers leader also called on officials to heed the people’s demands, the Tehran Times reported Saturday.

“People are rightfully calling for measures (by the government) to save the lake and the officials should respond to the people’s demands,” Hojatoleslam Gholamreza Hassani said.

Another Orumiyeh lawmaker, Nader Qazipour, echoed the remarks, saying the citizens “have the right to pursue their social and environmental demands” but urged them to use “legal channels,” the paper reported.

Several opposition websites said the authorities were concerned about nationalist slogans in the August 27 protest and other smaller scale gatherings that preceded it.

Orumiyeh lies in a region close to Turkey and Azerbaijan and its inhabitants are mainly Azeri — the largest minority in Iran representing 20 percent of the total population.

Neither the authorities nor the state media have yet taken a stance on the issue.

The disappearance of Lake Orumiyeh could lead to the displacement of 14 million people, Jahangirzadeh warned, adding that the salt dust would endanger the ecosystem of all surrounding areas, whose economy relies on agriculture and tourism.

Hojatoleslam Hassani meanwhile said salt storms could make life difficult for neighbouring provinces, including Tehran, as well as neighbouring countries Iraq and Turkey.

“So far, the government has taken no action to resolve the issue,” Jahangirzadeh said. “Thus, I ask the people to continue this trend. (The protests) should not stop until they achieve their goal.”

The proposal rejected by the parliament envisaged feeding the lake with water from the River Arax, located on Iran’s border with Armenia and Azerbaijan some 70 kilometres (45 miles) to the north.

Copyright © 2011 AFP.

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Flaming Gorge pipeline would be disaster

Flaming Gorge pipeline would be disaster

Posted: 04 September 2011, by Dave Petersen, The Denver Post (MediaNews Group),

Hunting and angling are beloved ways of life for many Westerners, all-American passions that have been passed from generation to generation throughout the history of our nation. American sportsmen and -women embrace the challenges to be found in nature, cherish the memories acquired there, and anticipate the excitement of more outdoor adventures to come.

We are lucky to have a world-class fishery in our own extended backyard, on the Green River below Flaming Gorge Reservoir. Unfortunately, this great run of river is now threatened by a monumental boondoggle that could destroy one of the finest fishing destinations on the planet. Aaron Million’s proposed water pipeline would stretch from Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Wyoming and Utah, some 560 miles to the massive population centers of Colorado’s Front Range. After all, why should we worry about preserving what little is left in America of wild nature when water board members believe the river’s flows would be better used to maintain wasteful blue-grass lawns, golf courses, swimming pools and car washes around the Denver area?

In addition to the obvious self-centeredness and amorality of Million’s outrageous proposal, consider the construction cost, currently estimated by state agencies to run as high as $9 billion, with another $123 million per year, in perpetuity, required to operate and maintain the pipeline. Just what we need in a strapped economy! Nor would it be a bargain for Front Range residents, requiring farmers and homeowners to pay the highest fees ever for water.

Of particular importance to sportsmen are the numerous adverse impacts this plan would have on the surrounding environment, fish and wildlife.

The Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area is home to mule deer, elk, pronghorn, wild turkey, moose, and their predators, and consequently is hugely popular for big game hunting. Million’s proposed pipeline project could easily destroy this sportsmen’s paradise by raising water temperatures in the lake and thereby decreasing fish populations there and downstream, even as roads and other impacts from the construction and operation of the pipeline will fragment, diminish and in some areas destroy critical big game habitat, dry up wetlands, invite the ATV scourge and spread thistles and other invasive plant species.

In the end, what will be accomplished is the crippling of a sustainable annual $118 million recreation-based rural economy that local communities depend on for survival. And there are no big pay-offs for anyone in exchange for these many sacrifices.

None of this needs to happen, as there are several sensible water management plans on the table at a fraction of the price — including aggressive urban water conservation, water recycling, better land-use planning and growth management, voluntary sharing agreements between cities and agriculture, and some small-scale additions to local storage facilities.

Knowledgeable hunters and anglers unequivocally oppose Million’s pipeline plan.

More than 2 million people visit the Flaming Gorge area annually, participating in activities like fishing, hunting, boating, camping, hiking, horseback riding and scenic tours. It’s a magically unique place. Let’s not destroy this national gem in exchange for yet another needless and extravagantly expensive water boondoggle.

David Petersen is an award-winning writer and sportsman from Durango.

Beginning Women Farmers – Whole Farm Planning Training Program

Beginning Women Farmers- Whole Farm Planning Training Program


Posted02 September 2011, by Staff, Farming Magazine,


The Central New York Resource Conservation and Development Project, Inc. (CNYRC&D) recently completed the second year of a three year program to assist beginning women farmers, defined as those having less than 10 years farming experience.

“Empowering Beginning Women Farmers in the Northeast through Whole Farm Planning” is funded by Holistic Management International through a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture.  Across the Northeast, over 150 women have graduated from the training giving them new tools, information and perspectives on how to succeed in farming.

This innovative program instructs participants on using a holistic approach to decision making on their farms.  Thirty participants (fifteen per year) from all across NY State met for ten sessions on topics such as goal setting, financial, business, and marketing plans, land and infrastructure planning, soil fertility, and planned grazing.  The final four sessions were located on farms to allow for hands-on learning.

According to participant Linda Haley Ross of Madison County, “The NE Beginning Women Farmer program allowed me to learn hands-on, in-classroom, and through peer discussion the real challenges I would be facing as a farmer today, while providing me the tools to address them. In addition, I leave with a lifelong support system and perpetually growing network of resources to guarantee my success.”

Participants are provided with a mentor and are connected with a network of other beginning women farmers throughout the Northeast for additional support.  Participants from previous classes continue to meet after graduation to stay connected, enjoy the camaraderie created by the training and expand their learning.

Applications for the third year of this program are due on September 30, 2011 and are available at or by contacting Lauren Lines, New York State Coordinator at  The sessions will begin in November and will be located in Central New York for the upcoming year.

Liberian Women Lead a Revolution in Agriculture

Liberian Women Lead a Revolution in Agriculture

Ambassador Ertharin Cousin serves as U.S. Representative to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Agencies in Rome.


Posted 24 August 2011, by Ertharin Cousin, DipNote (United States Department of State),


As we continue to respond to the heartbreaking crisis in the Horn of Africa, it’s important to keep in mind that we are able to apply some lessons learned from our long term commitment to relief and development work elsewhere in Africa. The key, it seems to me, is to respond to the disaster while also building long term solutions to broader issues. Just before I visited refugee camps along the Somalia border last week, I traveled to Liberia to look into some of our longer term programs there. It was quite an amazing visit.

I was able to view firsthand the synergies between World Food Program (WFP) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) programs there — programs which aim to improve the food security of Liberians as well as the Ivorian refugee populations they generously host.

Liberia has always had a special place in my heart, not only because of the American history we share, but particularly because of its future promise and potential. Liberia has just been approved as a priority country under President Obama’s flagship global hunger and food security initiative — Feed the Future — through which the United States promotes a twin-track approach to hunger: by providing emergency food assistance while simultaneously supporting efforts toward sustainable agricultural development.

The WFP and FAO programs being implemented in conjunction with the Liberian Ministry of Agriculture and other partners are key in this effort, and support President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s commitment to progress. They also ensure that the needs of refugees fleeing conflict from neighboring Ivory Coast are being met.

Our first stop was at Arjay Farms in Kingsville, Careysburg District, which is a prime example of a successful private and public partnership. Here we met two incredible women. One was Minister of Agriculture Florence Chenoweth and the other was Josephine Francis, the owner of Arjay Farms, and the president of a 2,300 strong farmers association that employs more than 50 women. Thanks to Josephine Francis, the association was awarded a grant from the Gates Foundation to carry out seed multiplication with 39 farms.

Minister Chenoweth and Jospehine Francis are the epitome of the industrious, multi-tasking, multi-talented women of Liberia.

The U.S. Ambassador to Liberia, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, to whom I am most grateful for the truly valuable insight she provided throughout the whole visit, and I joined Minister Chenoweth and Josephine, who were working hand-in-hand in the rice paddy with local farmers harvesting an abundant rice crop. In January 2011, Liberia declared itself rice seed sufficient thanks to the assistance of the United States and FAO, which have, since 2006, provided both input and technical support for Liberia to begin rice seed multiplication.

We then traveled to Gbedine where we made a stop at the new Center for Rice Research Institute to view the new offices of WFP, FAO, and the Ministry of Agriculture. It is an example of a country-led plan working closely with the national government — something we strongly support. We also visited Purchase for Progress (P4P) and Livelihood Asset Recovery sites jointly run by WFP and FAO.

P4P aims to create market opportunities for organized farmers’ groups by using a value chain approach. While there, we followed the entire supply chain process, from rice transplanting, to harvest and post-harvest processing — including parboiling. We spoke to some of the 250 men and 125 women who make up the Dokodan Farmers Cooperative. It is one of two cooperatives awarded P4P contracts, thanks to which they were able to receive training in rice processing and packaging, and purchase the two power tillers they proudly showed us.

I am excited to see the positive changes we can bring smallholder famers under P4P, such as seed multiplication, and improved milling and processing. I am also proud to see an increased number of women doing post-harvest processing.

At and around Bahn refugee camp, which houses thousands of refugees from the Ivory Coast, we met with Liberian hosts and refugees working hand-in-hand in their villages to improve their food security. We felt the strong sense of community whereby Liberian families are paying back the Ivoirian families who hosted them during Liberia’s many years of unrest. One Liberian man told us he was hosted by his Ivorian family for nine years, and therefore felt obligated to do the same for as long as his Ivorian relatives needed. And because many of the refugee families I spoke to said they are staying put in Liberia until the situation in the Ivory Coast is stabilized, it is imperative that the programs FAO implements in conjunction WFP build resilience. At and around Bahn Refugee Camp in Nimba County we saw examples of agricultural inputs given to both refugees and host families that produced lush rice plots as well as vegetable gardens aimed at diversifying and supplementing the general food aid diet as well as generating some income to restore lost livelihoods.

Our last visit was to the USAID/Food for Peace-funded LAUNCH (Liberian Agricultural Upgrading, Nutrition and Child Health) project run by ACDI-VOCA. Education is the cornerstone of stability for a country’s economic development. At the health and nutrition site, we learned that most of the women and girls present, members of a project Care Group, averaged between the 6th and 8th grade. The young pregnant or lactating girls and women who participate in this program are being trained on the importance of proper breastfeeding and child birth spacing, and other health and nutrition topics.

Finally, I want to congratulate Liberia for receiving a $46.5 million grant from the World Bank and Minister Chenoweth for being awarded the African Prize from the President of Malawi for her work in fighting hunger.

My visit to Liberia was crowned by my private meeting with its formidable President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. What an honor.

In Liberia, as in Somalia and throughout the region, we are combining immediate relief with longer term solutions. It isn’t easy, it is never perfect, but based on what I saw on each step of my trip, we are definitely headed in the right direction and tapping into some very powerful and productive best practices.


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Monsoon 2011: Rains, flash floods kill scores, render thousands homeless

Monsoon 2011: Rains, flash floods kill scores, render thousands homeless

Over a million acres of standing crops have been washed away. ILLUSTRATION: MOHSIN ALAM


Posted 04 September 2011, by Abdul Manan / Sarfaraz Memon / Shehzad Baloch / Z Ali, The Express Tribune,


SUKKUR/HYDERABAD/QUETTA/LAHORE: The monsoon clouds are menacing, ominous, casting a gloomy shadow on the fields below and leaving massive devastation in their wake.

Reports of inundated villages, washed away katcha homes and destroyed crops gain momentum as the system travels up north, with torrential rains having battered lower Sindh, lashing upper Sindh and south Punjab and keeping central and upper Punjab on its edge. Flash floods have also been reported across eastern Balochistan.

Looting trucks, blocking roads in lower Sindh

Five days of downpours have killed more than 60 in lower Sindh, besides pervasive crop devastation, loss of livestock and collapse of thousands of katcha houses.

Eight deaths were reported on Saturday as heavy rains continued to lash Nawabshah, Dadu, Matiari, Sanghar, Mirpurkhas, Tando Allahyar, Naushehro Feroze, Badin, Umerkot and Tando Muhammad Khan districts.

Badin, one of the worst-hit districts, witnessed looting of trucks carrying relief goods. Six women were injured when the police resorted to baton charge to disperse the crowd.

Separately, the National Highway was blocked by enraged locals for several hours in Nawabshah district.

“Rains have completely destroyed the standing crops in Tando Muhammad Khan,” said Federal Minister for Water and Power Syed Navid Qamar, who is elected from that district.

Although the agriculture department has not issued the details of crop losses but it is believed that rains have destroyed cotton crop sown over 1 million acres in the thirteen rain affected districts of lower Sindh.

The meteorological department has forecast 3 more days of heavy rainfall in Hyderabad and Mirpurkhas divisions.

Torrents flowing off hills in upper Sindh

At least eleven people were killed and hundreds injured as rains lashed upper Sindh, inundating villages, washing away katcha houses and rendering thousands homeless.

The devastating late monsoon rains, starting on the eve of August 30, have also destroyed the standing cotton crop, paddy, sugarcane and vegetables over thousands of acres.

While Khairpur stands drenched as the most affected district in upper Sindh, the monsoons have wreaked havoc across the region, including Sukkur, Rohri, Pannu Aquil, Ghotki, Mirpur Mathelo, Ubauro, Daharki, Jacobabad, Kashmore, Shikarpur, Khairpur and Naushehro Feroze.

With over 2,000 katcha houses washed away and three to four feet high water in its fields, Nara taluka of district Khairpur is purportedly the worst affected.

Torrents flowing off hills have washed away hundreds of villages, said a revenue official from Nara taluka, Iqbal Ahmed Jandan, while talking to The Express Tribune.

While rain destroyed thousands of acres of paddy fields in Kashmore district, the fields in Jacobabad, Shikarpur and Larkana districts would benefit from the rains because crop was sown late in those districts, said general secretary Sindh Abadgar Board G M Khoso while talking to The Express Tribune.

Punjab largely spared, until now

Punjab has fared better than Sindh with three reported deaths and 6,196 displaced in flash floods during the last two months.

According to details from the PDMA, 32 villages have been affected so far while Mianwali, Khushab, Toba Tek Singh, Kasur and Sahiwal are the worst-affected cities.

While PDMA officials claimed that most of Southern Punjab has been largely spared, politicians from the area including MNA Jamshed Dasti and Dr Saeed Buzdar said that hundreds were displaced in Muzaffargarh and DG Khan when Indus and Chenab rivers swelled a few weeks ago. The Punjab government has not provided adequate funds for the strengthening of embankments on rivers and on canals, they said.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Peoples Party MPA from Rajanpur, Ather Khan Gorchani, told The Express Tribune that hill torrents in DG Khan and in Rajanpur have caused massive devastation in the area.

Director met department Muhammad Ajmal Shad said that more rains are expected, particularly in south Punjab and interior Sindh, before the system moves to central and upper Punjab where it would stay for five more days.  The monsoon season would end by mid-October, he said.

At present, around 30,000 cusecs of water is flowing in Sutlej River while another 250,000 cusecs is flowing in Indus River, he said, adding that both Mangla and Tarbela dams have been filled to capacity.

Flash floods in Balochistan

Torrential rains have left nine people dead across Balochistan, said director-general provincial disaster management authority (PDMA), Tahir Munir Minhas, while addressing a news conference in Quetta on Saturday.

Kalat, Khuzdar and Loralai are the worst-affected districts, he said, adding that 12 trucks carrying relief goods and medicine have been dispatched so far.

Breaches in the outfall drain inundated 13 villages in Jaffarabad, wreaking havoc on the standing crops and fertile fields.  The worst is not yet over, though. Around 56,000 cusecs of water passing through Nari River in Sibi could devastate the plains of Kachhi if the water level continues to rise.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 4th, 2011.

Read more: floods2011


Hopi Tribe Sues City of Flagstaff

Hopi Tribe Sues City of Flagstaff


Posted 31 August 2011, by Staff, Native News Network,


FLAGSTAFF, ARIZONA – In an attempt to stop the continued building of a pipeline to supply reclaimed wastewater from Flagstaff to the Arizona Snowbowl ski resort, the Hopi Tribe filed a lawsuit against the City of Flagstaff in Arizona Superior Court in Coconino County challenging the City’s decision in September 2010 not to amend or cancel the contract for the sale of reclaimed wastewater for snowmaking.

The lawsuit states that the City’s contract to sell 1.5 million gallons of reclaimed wastewater per day to Snowbowl is illegal because it violates several Arizona laws that govern the proper use of reclaimed wastewater. The contract provides for the use of reclaimed wastewater in a mountain setting where runoff and overspray cannot be prevented, as Arizona law requires. Additionally, restrictions on limiting human contact with wastewater cannot be met, and harm to the unique alpine environment in the area, including rare animals and plants, cannot be prevented.

The contract is also illegal under Arizona law because it will result in unreasonable environmental degradation and will further deplete limited drinking water resources. As stated in the complaint, the use of reclaimed wastewater for snowmaking will unreasonably harm the environment, create a public nuisance, and infringe upon the public’s, including the Hopi Tribe’s, use and enjoyment of the area around Snowbowl as well as infringe on the Hopi Tribe’s reserved water rights.

The City’s sale of reclaimed wastewater to the Snowbowl will cover a portion of the San Francisco Peaks with artificial snow made from reclaimed wastewater. The San Francisco Peaks, and in particular Snowbowl, is ecologically unique and contains rare types of habitat and species. The City’s illegal contract allows wastewater to run off and spray into wilderness areas specifically used by the Hopi Tribe and others, impeding and infringing on the use and enjoyment of these areas by the Hopi Tribe and others.

Reclaimed wastewater is water that has been used and processed through the City’s wastewater system. Snowmelt from artificial snow made from reclaimed wastewater will be environmentally harmful because it contains chemicals including endocrine disruptors, which can interfere with natural hormone levels and processes in humans and animals. Negative impacts of endocrine disrupters include aberrant sexual development, behavioral and reproductive problems. Key species in the San Francisco Peaks ecosystem, such as frogs, are particularly susceptible to these harmful effects.

“The health and safety of the Hopi people is indistinguishable from the health and safety of the environment – protection of the environment on the San Francisco Peaks is central to the Tribe’s existence,” said Hopi Tribe Chairman Leroy Shingoitewa, as he stressed the importance of the case for his Tribe.

“The use of reclaimed sewage on the San Francisco Peaks as planned by the City of Flagstaff and Snowbowl will have a direct negative impact on the Hopi Tribe’s frequent and vital uses of the Peaks”

The Hopi Tribe maintains that the small increase in profits anticipated by the Snowbowl and minimal economic benefits to the area are far outweighed by much higher costs, including environmental damage, for the San Francisco Peaks’ community, including the Hopi Tribe. The effects of the reclaimed wastewater cannot be confined to the ski area and, therefore, users of the Peaks in the vital and accessible areas around Snowbowl will be harmed if the illegal contract is allowed to stand.

The Hopi Tribe seeks a judicial order prohibiting performance on this contract to sell reclaimed wastewater to Snowbowl, as the contract is for an illegal purpose and contrary to public policy.

posted August 31, 2011 6:50 am edt

(Ed Note: Please visit the original site for additional content associated with this article.)

Sustainability gets cozy and to the point


Sustainability gets cozy and to the point


Posted 04 September 2011, by Curtis Wackerle, Aspen Daily News,


One problem with the environmental movement, according to Eden Vardy, founder of the nonprofit Aspen T.R.E.E., is that it’s too often focused on energy, which is an abstract, intangible concept to most people.

So that’s why getting your hands dirty at T.R.E.E.’s Cozy Point Ranch Sustainable Farmyard is so important, and instructive, to the hundreds of kids who have come through in the demonstration project’s first year as part of the ranch’s summer camp programs.

The plot of land carved out of horse pasture next to Cozy Point’s equestrian facilities, which is owned by the city of Aspen, located off of Highway 82 just downvalley of Brush Creek Road, is an outdoor classroom. The curriculum is the philosophy of permaculture, which teaches that agricultural ecosystems should be self-sustaining and self-sufficient. Some 50 varieties of plants, along with chickens, turkeys, pigs and goats are the textbooks.

Anything that might be thought of as waste has a purpose, such as the animal poop used for fertilizer and the compost piles that add nutrients to the soil. Smelly and spicy plants like arugula are planted next to more sensitive ones like tomatoes to deter pests. There also are techniques to adapt to Aspen’s high-altitude climate, such as lining the raised garden beds with basketball-sized rocks, which act as thermal insulators, trapping in enough heat to extend the growing season by a week or two, Vardy said.

A young boy used to joke with his father upon returning from the supermarket with a car full of groceries — “Hunt good. Many buffalo,” the boy would say, in a faux-Native American voice.

Fact is, the joke was about as close as the boy came to grasping the disconnect most people have between their food and its source.

Vardy, 25, who was raised in Aspen, founded Aspen T.R.E.E. three years ago to address that disconnect between modern society and the natural world and animal kingdom that surrounds and supports it. Critically, the organization focuses on positive solutions, as Vardy identifies too much negativity as another of the environmental movement’s ails.

“We focus on sustainable solutions,” he said. It doesn’t hurt to be creative and artistic while you are at it either, Vardy, believes, as “that will inspire people.”

T.R.E.E. stands for “together regenerating the environment through education.” The nonprofit is responsible for the annual Tuesday-before-Thanksgiving free organic community meal served at Aspen High School (this year’s birds are trotting around Cozy Point right now) that serves up to 700. It also offers programs such as custom garden consulting and “nature nannies,” which is basically a child care service that specializes in introducing kids to the outdoors and wholesome foods. T.R.E.E. also will build you an earthen pizza oven.

Vardy became interested in the concepts that would form T.R.E.E. a decade ago as an Aspen High School student. He took science teacher Travis Moore’s ecological literacy and resource efficiency course “and got really excited,” he said, and pursued the field in college. At Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., Vardy earned a degree in sustainable food systems, and he has a master’s in integrative ecosocial design with a focus on regenerative leadership and nonprofit management from Gaia University. Part of his master’s coursework with the nontraditional university included setting up a permaculture demonstration site at a school for AIDS orphans in Uganda. He also has worked in Asia and Israel on sustainable farms.

Aspen called Vardy back, however.

Eden Vardy, director of Aspen T.R.E.E., explains the unique features of the garden. Raised garden beds are curved to mimic nature and maximize capacity in a minimal space while improving nutrient control, as well as providing easier access to participants in the program. Designed as a sheet mulch garden, soil is comprised of composted manure, topsoil and peat moss from the Ice Age dig in Snowmass. The large rocks bordering the garden help contain heat and extend the growing season in Aspen’s colder climate.. Photo: Chris Council/Aspen Daily News.

“It’s so beautiful here, it touches my heart,” Vardy said.

Aspen also is  “such a magnifying glass,” he said. The idea was that if he could get T.R.E.E. successfully off the ground here, the concept could be packaged and exported to other communities. One day, Vardy hopes to see, for example, a Los Angeles T.R.E.E. and a Miami T.R.E.E.

He has now returned to Aspen High School and Moore’s classroom, where he is leading 72 hours of coursework on permaculture design, as part of the ecological literacy class.

“It’s quite an honor to go back to the class that started it all,” Vardy said.

T.R.E.E. had a similar permaculture demonstration site last summer at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies’ Rock Bottom Ranch near Carbondale, which it still maintains.

Earlier this year, Monroe Summers, head of the company that manages Cozy Point Ranch for the city, contacted Vardy about setting up a demonstration site at the ranch and contributing to the ranch’s summer camp offerings.

The reality is that Cozy Point’s equestrian focus only appeals to a certain segment of the community, Summers said, so the ranch tries to broaden its outreach when possible. T.R.E.E. and Vardy, who were introduced to Summers by Seth Sachson of the Aspen Animal Shelter, seemed like a good fit, he said.

T.R.E.E. was established and working with the campers by July. Summers gives T.R.E.E. the land for its demonstration project at no cost, and in exchange, T.R.E.E. provides instruction in “healthy living, local foods, animal husbandry and so forth” for interested campers, Summers said. The “We-Green-Riders” program in particular, which introduces 4- to 6-year-olds to basic equestrian skills while getting them some time in the garden, “took off like gangbusters,” Summers said. Cozy Point’s summer camp business this year was double or triple what it was last year, which was the camp’s first year, Summers said.

The nonprofit has similarly grown, with a budget that has doubled in the last year, Vardy said. He brought on six interns to help out this summer, and the organization is overseen by a five-member board of directors and an advisory committee that includes pro skier Nick DeVore and former Pitkin County Commissioner Patty Clapper.

T.R.E.E. is currently funded by about a 50-50 split of donations and earned income for products and services. Vardy said he’d like to see that become more of a two-thirds, one-third breakdown in favor of earned income.

With school back in session, the summer camp programs at the ranch have wrapped up. In the coming weeks, Summers said he plans to sit down with Vardy to debrief on the season and talk about how to improve and grow the partnership.

Ideas in the works include building a four-season greenhouse at the ranch, to add some variety to the concept of eating local in the winter months — otherwise true locavores don’t have much to choose from other than eggs and hunted game meat.

Other ideas include a Cozy Point farmers market, a bigger community garden and collaboration with the “slow foods movement.” Vardy also is testing out a number of different strains of quinoa in the garden, to determine what is best suited to grow in the high country elements.

“We have the sunshine, we have the land, the soil and good fertilizer — and we’re looking for ways to capitalize on that,” Summers said. In regards to T.R.E.E., “We see our role as a facilitator and a sort of big brother, to help them reach their goals and aspirations. They are young and just getting started, but they are doing some things that are really important.”