What’s happening at Sustainable Woodstock, Part 1: The Local Scene

by Michael J. Caduto and Amanda Kuhnert

This is Part 1 of a two-part series.

Following a recent presentation to members of the Rotary Club of Woodstock, which touched upon the many ways in which Sustainble Woodstock is active in the local community and Upper Valley region, the first question that arose from the audience was, “Are you actually doing all of the things listed on your website?”

Yes! Sustainable Woodstock’s staff, board members, volunteers and action groups keep very busy. Here’s a brief synopsis about some of the organization’s recent and ongoing projects and initiatives:

Energy

In coordination with Efficiency Vermont and surrounding towns, Sustainable Woodstock (SW) held a series of public events and forums on weatherization and related home improvements. More than 40 households registered to receive an energy assessment visit—one of the highest per capita responses of any town in the state of Vermont.

The Energy Committee submitted a final draft of the Energy Chapter to be considered for incorporation into Woodstock’s Town Plan. This chapter assesses and evaluates the current energy use conditions in Woodstock and outlines a comprehensive plan for aligning Woodstock’s plan with the Vermont Comprehensive Energy Plan benchmarks, including: reducing total energy consumption per capita by 15 percent by 2025 and by more than one third by 2050; and meeting 25 percent of the remaining energy need from renewable sources by 2025, 40 percent by 2035, and 90 percent by 2050.

Woodstock’s First Community Solar Array

Sixteen or more residents and families can purchase off-site solar electricity from this solar array located at the new Rainbow Playschool location on North Barnard Road in Woodstock. If you are interested in purchasing local off-site solar for your household electricity, please send us an inquiry as soon as possible. A link to the Rainbow Solar “Inquiry Form” is found on the home page of our webiste: www.sustainabwoodstock.org.

Plastic Reduction in Woodstock

Sustainable Woodstock, in collaboration with Change the World Kids, launched an initiative for a Woodstock-appropriate means of replacing single-use plastic grocery bags with a reusable bag program. We are conducting an online survey of local businesses to measure plastics use and to assess interest for participating in plastics reduction. We have held related conversations with members of Woodstock’s Economic Development Commission, Conservation Commission, Select Board and Town Planner. We have also spoken to leaders in other towns that have implemented ongoing programs to reduce single-use plastics, including Stowe’s voluntary ban on plastic drinking straws and Brattleboro’s initiative combining a sustainable grocery bag program with an ordinance banning single-use bags. Research will determine the feasibility of using compostable coffee cups and drinking straws in lieu of disposable products, which would make Woodstock the first Vermont town to take these steps. Students from Change the World Kids will conduct a plastics use audit for interested local businesses. It looks increasingly like a plastic bag bill may pass Vermont’s House and Senate by a large margin during the current legislative session; the reduction in single-use plastics is not a matter of “if,” but of “how” and “when.”

East End Park progress

The following improvements to the park are planned, with work resuming in the spring: A stone fence to border the edible plantings, a sculptured gate for the top of the access road leading to the lower park terrace and completion of stone access stairs leading down from the middle of the parking area. The dedicated, hard-working members of the East End Action Group are busy raising the funding necessary to tackle the next major projects that are part of the Town-approved overall plan for completing the park, which has transformed and revitalized the economy and ecology of Woodstock’s East End.

Community gardens

In 2018, more than 35 people grew food and flowers for their families at our two community gardens at King Farm and Billings Farm. They gathered for workdays and potlucks, exchanged recipes and farming tips, and enjoyed the company of fellow gardeners. To inquire about plots, please contact us at info@sustainablewoodstock.org.

Annual events on tap

Please mark your calendars for our lineup of annual events:

  • Sustainable Woodstock’s annual collection of recyclable electronics and paper shredding—Woodstock Union High School (April 27)
  • Road to the Pogue (May 11)
  • Trek 2 Taste (June 1)
  • Covered Bridges Half-Marathon composting (June 2)
  • Naked Table (Aug. 18)

Upcoming events

  • Monday, March 11: 5:30 p.m., Energy Action Group Meeting at Woodstock Town Hall
  • Monday, March 18: 5:30 p.m., Forest Carbon Action Group Meeting, Sustainable Woodstock office, 32 Pleasant Street

DO JUST ONE THING? Do you believe in the work we’re doing? Your support makes it all possible! Please consider donating at: sustainablewoodstock.org. Thank You! Part 2, “The Upper Valley Region & Beyond,” will appear in a forthcoming issue.

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