Front Burner, Back Burner – May 10, 2013

Overview of how & where things are going with Spring Creek Homesteading Fund.

Centre Daily Times

I’m working on a roundup column for early June publication, similar to the last roundup column, published on January 19, 2013  – Localization initiatives are thriving.

Constant Contact Newsletter

  • Publication Changes – Starting this month, Spring Creek Homesteading News e-newsletters will only come out once a month, around the 15th of each month. If you want an event announcement put into the newsletter, the submission deadline is the 10th of each month. Event blurbs should be up to 200 words, and include the event title, brief description, date, time, location, cost and contact for more information.
  • Survey – There will be a survey in the May 15 edition, seeking reader feedback about how people use the newsletter, reskilling workshops and a few other things. The information will be used to cull non-readers from the subscribers list and sharpen our workshop focus for Fall 2013.
  • Back Issues – Newsletter back issues are online at the “About” page.

Democracy School

Stop the PSU Pipeline organizers have scheduled a Democracy School for June 14 and 15, giving residents an opportunity to learn more about the State College Community Bill of Rights and how it can be used to build a sustainable energy future for the Borough. Scholarships are available for anyone interested in attending. To sign up for the Democracy School, contact Joe Cusumano. To request a scholarship, contact me.

Energy Sovereignty Website

The Stop the PSU Pipeline campaign is currently in a holding pattern while Penn State and Columbia Gas re-examine other pipeline routes and the Borough prepares to consider a recent request for permit application withdrawal in a few weeks. Recent posts include:

Grants and Loans

The most recent grant we funded was a $500 grant to Woody Wilson at Wilson’s Homegrown Farms and Marilyn LaVelle at the Burrowes Youth Haven, to build, plant and maintain a raised bed food garden at the teen shelter this spring and summer. More information is available at the “Programs” page, under “Microfunding”

Homesteaders Handbook

Copies of the Homesteaders Handbook – chock full of useful information about farms, gardens, local food production, processing and markets in Central PA – are available for sale at Webster’s Bookstore Cafe, for $15 each. If you’re not in the current edition and would like to be included in next winter’s update edition, please email me your information.

Keller Street Community Garden

Ten of the 12 available plots are now reserved and about half of the gardeners have started preparing and planting their plots. They look great and it’s so nice to see the garden being so well cared for! Gary Fosmire has just about finished installing the irrigation tap, and Master Gardener Justin Wheeler is planning a pollinator flower and herb garden for the raised beds; the pollinator garden will be installed during a community garden work day on June 15. If you’re interested in applying for the remaining thr plots, check out the garden policies and email me for more information.

2013 PCO FarmFest

Spring Creek Homesteading is coordinating the homesteaders’ education track for the 2013 PCO FarmFest, presenting four demonstration workshops in the afternoon on August 3 at the Grange Fairgrounds in Centre Hall. Workshops include:

  • Canning Summer Fruits – Joshua Lambert
  • Pollinator Gardens & Native Bee Nesting Blocks – Justin Wheeler
  • Keeping Backyard Chickens – Nellie Bhattarai
  • Cover Cropping in the Backyard Garden – Instructor pending

PSU Student Farm

Rachel Hoh has written an excellent history of the Penn State student-run farm, including case studies of student-run farms at other Big 10 universities: PSU College Farm Thesis. Rachel is interning this summer at Penn State’s Sustainability Institute, and one of her projects is to continue developing the student-run farm. Contact Rachel for more information or to get involved in her work.

Reskilling Workshops

Summer Workshops include:

  • June 1 – Planting a Pollinator Garden & Building a Bee Box with Justin Wheeler – Saturday, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at 301 South Garner Ave. (Call 237-0996 or email to sign up)
  • July 6 – Building Rain Barrels with Justin Wheeler – Saturday, 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at 301 South Garner Ave. (Call 237-0996 or email to sign up)
  • We’re working to schedule Building a Backyard Chicken Coop with Woody Wilson and Building a Solar Drier with Lynne Heritage.

Screen shot 2013-05-10 at 1.43.38 PM

Spring Creek Homesteading Potluck

June 22 – The Summer Potluck will be a Potluck Picnic in Pavilion #2 at Spring Creek Park from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. RSVP at SignUpGenius. Charcoal and grills will be available if you want to bring meat or vegetables to grill…

Spring Creek Homesteading Website

Within a year or so, I hope to transition the blog to a paper newsletter published weekly on a hand-powered letterpress printer and distributed through local-focused downtown State College businesses and organizations. Although I expect to start with a home-based printing operation, eventually the project might move into a letterpress studio downtown, equipped to provide a community space for non-electric printing services and letterpress printing workshops.

typeIn the meantime, I’ll continue to post compilations of local sustainability news – weekly on Wednesdays here at the blog. If you have an event or announcement for upcoming Wednesday editions of the Homesteader’s Quartothe submission deadline is Tuesday at noon each week. Event blurbs should be up to 200 words, and include the event title, brief description, date, time, location, cost and contact for more information.

Spring Creek Homesteading Governance

Our current Board of Directors has been in place since our founding in August 2011, and includes President Josh Lambert, Secretary Dana Stuchul and me as both Treasurer and Program Director. I’d like to step down as Treasurer in the next few months, so we’re in the process of looking for a new Treasurer. We’re also considering increasing the size of the Board from three to five members, to better distribute our growing workload.

Street Fairs

June 22 – Spring Creek Homesteading Fund will have a table at this year’s Summer’s Best Music Fest. We would like to invite former workshop instructors, former workshop students, and others that have participated in a homesteading event to help us table. The event runs from 12 pm – 8 pm on June 22. Our table will be part of the Calder Way “Community Corridor” which highlights organizations that support the local community.

We would like to get pairs of volunteers to sit for two-hour shifts.  The idea would be for you to help us hand out SCHF literature, answer questions based on your experience, and basically help us show others in the community the impact that SCHF is having toward furthering local community resilience, and having fun doing it. Please contact Josh Lambert (237-0996) to sign-up for a time slot.

Taproot Community Kitchen

The spring fundraiser for Taproot Community Kitchen raised $300, now held in a dedicated checking account until we make some decisions about how to proceed.

At our Spring Potluck on March 22, Holly D’Angelo of Fox Hill Gardens and Transition Town State College mentioned that the Grace Lutheran Church kitchen – where Meals on Wheels are prepared – might be a certified commercial kitchen, and organizers might be interested in renting out the kitchen for public use. If a volunteer takes on the Taproot Kitchen project (see “Volunteer” update below), the next step will probably be reaching out to John Peters, the Green Team coordinator at Grace Lutheran, to explore a potential partnership similar to the agreement between Spring Creek Homesteading and State College Friends Meeting regarding management of the Keller Street Community Garden.

Also in mid-March, I talked with Jeremy Bean at the PSU Sustainability Institute about his 2-3 year plan to get the student farm at PSU up and running. Jeremy wants to include a community kitchen facility within the student farm complex and will be working with Rachel Hoh to move the college farm project along over the summer.

So our loose strategic plan is to pursue rental opportunities in the Grace Lutheran kitchen for a couple of years, while working with Jeremy to pursue the PSU farm kitchen for a permanent community kitchen.


Our basement workshop is still available for homesteaders with building projects that require tools you don’t have and don’t want to buy. We have a table saw, mitre saw, router, jig saw and drill press. Details and liability waiver at the “Programs” page under “WoodWorks.”

Volunteer Projects

There are several local food projects now on the back burner that would benefit from some focused volunteer attention. Generally, projects move forward incrementally, with various people pushing a little bit here and there and good stuff taking on more defined shape over months or years of work.

Some of the current back burner projects that are ripe for some pushing include:

  • Taproot Community Kitchen – Creating a user-friendly public kitchen for food prep, parties, catering businesses, etc.
  • State College Area School District Farm-to-Table – Increasing the amount of locally-raised food prepared and served in SCASD cafeterias.
  • PSU Farm-to-Table – Increasing the amount of locally-raised food prepared and served in PSU dining halls
  • Itinerant Farmhands Inc. – Creating a pool of trained, skilled farm labor available for short-term, low-cost hire by area farmers.
  • PSU College Farm – Creating a student-run farm within PSU for education and food production

If you’re interested in working on any of those projects over the summer, please contact me to set up a time to meet. I can fill you in with a general overview of the project, give you my files documenting progress to date, plus some contact information for key people working on the project and some ideas about possible next steps.

Volunteers will follow leads wherever they go, gather information about opportunities, obstacles, etc. and check in  with me occasionally to discuss thoughts about where to go/what to do next. When you hit your limit of how much time you want to work on the project, write up your experiences, lessons-learned, and so forth, for me to keep track of and pass along to the next people who work on that project. It’s an open-format assignment, but I find that’s actually how sustainability work often plays out.


Personal Note:

I’m taking a break from blog editing until Monday, May 20, for burnout prevention.

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