Archive for March, 2010

Floods and Flowers in East Arlington MA

The heavy rains from last week caused quite a bit of flooding throughout town, even in parts of Arlington that have never seen flooding before. Residential homes and commercial properties were equally affected, particularly along the Cambridge and Belmont borders. Interestingly enough, the Arlington flood map boundaries were recently updated to include areas that were newly flooded, with the changes to be effective this June. Good work on the map FEMA!

I happen to live on one of the streets shown in the video and I can attest to the fact that homes which never saw flooding before (such as mine) had over a foot of water in the basement!

Arlington Advocate video of flooding in Arlington MA:

Despite the drenching, the spring flowers have not been beaten down! I visited parts of East Arlington that were under water a week ago and took pictures of some of the prettiest spring real estate (front yard flowers!) around. Here are a few to enjoy:

How is your yard looking? If you’ve got some nice spring flowers in bloom (or about to bloom), take some pictures and email them to me at timcahill@avenue3re.com.  I’ll share them here and let you know when they’re posted.

You might also want to check out my Eco-Friendly Partners page for a green landscaping company near you!

Until next time, Peace!

-TMC

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Arlington MA’s 1st Annual CSA Share Fair A Success!

Overhead view of crowd at CSA Farm Share

Step Right Up! Get Your Veggies Here!

Around the middle of February, I wrote a post (see below) about “being green” by buying and eating locally-grown food.  I also mentioned the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Share Fair to be held on February 25th in Arlington, MA.  Well, as Mother Nature would have it, both my post and the CSA Share Fair in Arlington were big successes!

It was a dark and stormy night on February 25th when I ventured out to attend the CSA Share Fair.  I was thinking at the time what a shame it was to have such bad weather on a night hosting such a great event.  Admittedly, my heart also sank a bit when I found parking right out front of the main entrance.  That doesn’t usually bode well for a large turnout…as I said, “usually.”..

As I walked in the front door, I was cheerfully greeted by a man keeping count of the number of attendees coming in.  Looking at me as I shook out my umbrella, he said in a robust, cheerful voice, “200”!  I was surprised and had to clarify with him that I was the 200th person to come through the doors.  With an hour to go, I was visitor number 200, and more were following in behind me!

People checking out information at a vendor table

So many choices!

While it was great to see such a tremendous and enthusiastic turnout, I was a bit bummed that I wasn’t able to meet personally with any of the farmers.  There were crowds at every table and people signing up for CSA shares like you wouldn’t believe.  It almost felt like being on the floor of the stock exchange; instead, this was the floor of the CSA exchange – with people bustling all around to find the perfect farm share to suit their needs and lifestyles. After all the dust settled, there were over 250 attendees at the Fair. This being the first one ever held in Arlington, you can rest assured it will become an annual event. If you’d like to see more pictures from the event, browse to the CSA Share Fair‘s web site.

Couldn’t attend the Fair that night? Not to worry! You don’t need to attend a CSA Share Fair in order to sign up for a share. There are still plenty of options available for the coming harvest season. To find a listing of local farms in the Arlington, MA and surrounding areas that participate in CSA, check the LocalHarvest.org web site for the ones closest to you. Many of the farms also have centralized drop-off points throughout the Boston and surrounding areas, so you don’t even need to trek out to the ‘burbs to pick up your bounty every week!

The Local Harvest web site has a wealth of information pertaining to CSA’s. If you’re new to this concept, you might want to check out Local Harvest’s tips and a recommended list of questions you should ask your farmer as your first step toward achieving food independence.

Until next time, Peace!

-TMC

Oh My! What to know about Radon in your home

Cartoon image of a sick houseFirst things first: the recommended EPA radon rating is < 4 pCi/L (4 picocuries per liter). It’s important to remember that this is only an endorsement and is not dictated by any existing laws. Radon levels will vary widely from home to home, neighborhood to neighborhood, and even country to country. So it’s important to know what the standard is for your area. You can do that by clicking here.

OK…now that you know what an acceptable level might be, you might be wondering what radon is, after all. In short, it is a radioactive gas released from the natural breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and even water. When radon is detected in a home, the first likely suspect is the soil beneath the house. However, in many rural areas, an elevated radon level may also be caused by radon emissions from well water. In very unlikely circumstances, radon is even produced from new home construction materials.

And here’s a statistic for ya (trying not to sound too much like that governor up north in Alaska!): Nearly 1 in 15 homes is estimated to have elevated levels of radon! So what’s a guy or girl to do? TEST, TEST, and VERIFY!

If you’re thinking of selling your home, why not have a test taken NOW so you’ll have the results ready when a concerned, ecologically-minded buyer comes along? If you happen to find any elevated levels of radon, you’ll have time to mitigate them before putting your house on the market. AND, the fact that you’ve tested and mitigated will be an added bonus when marketing the house. If you’re purchasing a home, you should highly consider having a professional radon test conducted as part of an extended home inspection period. If the results are acceptable, then great! But if you find any issues, you can work with the seller to determine the best way to mitigate the emissions and determine who will pay for what, and when. You can find a licensed radon professional here.

For planning purposes, you should know that a typical radon emission mitigation costs, on average, $1200. Depending on the method of mitigation, the cost should be anywhere between $800 and $2500. So if you go ahead and test, remember you have to disclose the results to both parties, and you’ll need to be prepared to pay at least some portion of the mitigation costs.

Further information can be found at the U.S. EPA’s website, Home Buyer’s and Seller’s Guide to Radon. You might also find this Comparison of International Radon Action Levels chart to be an interesting bit ‘o viewing.

Peace!

-TMC

Even King Kong Would Be Happy

The Empire State Building in NYC wins prestigious U.S. Green Building Council award for its 2009 energy retrofit.