Saturday, November 21, 2009

Boxed in

The NARC is all walled in. That means a fragile period is over. It is now much stronger and less likely to be blown over by an evil gust of wind.

Also the driveway is nicely shaped.

Narc progress

The Newbold ARC is getting the floor trusses installed.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

ARCs and SPARCs and NARCs

HUG's long term project is to create Agricultural Resilient Communities. We have picked up the habit of calling the individual houses we build "ARCs".
The house that we started on campus in 2008 is called ARC08.

We intended to name ARCs by the year they were started, but now we are starting several per year. Then we noticed that almost any letters you put in front of ARC forms a word.
ARC 09 is on campus and is Small and Practical, so we call it the SPARC.
Newbolds are building their NARC just off campus.
Dug's new cabin tends to be called the DARC.

Heating pipes in the foundation for the SPARC

The concrete was poured last Friday. The SPARC is now ready for walls.

Walls going up on the NARC

ARC08 Landscape drainage

Shawn is digging in the drainage tile that will take water away from the roof without dumping ice on the walking paths.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

New kitchen in ARC 08

The ARC without kitchen cabinets. Waiting for the new ones shortly.
ARC 08 was built with just a temporary kitchen at first. We had to get a feel for the place before we could design the real thing. This week it is coming together. Stay tuned for the outcome.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

HUG Welcomes MN GreenCorp member Genna Strauss

Through the driving rain, bitter wind, and blistery snow emerges our heroine, Genna Strauss.

Perhaps not so dramatic an entrance but none-the-less I have finally arrived! If you don’t know who I am or what I am doing here, wait no further as I explain. I recently became a member of the environmentally focused Americorps program called Minnesota GreenCorps. The GreenCorps program was created by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency as an opportunity to reach out to communities wanting support in achieving various green initiatives and to help aspiring environmental professionals gain valuable experience.

I come to the Pine River Area to serve as a Local Foods Specialist. I attained this position due to both interest and experience in local foods and planning execution. I am excited to utilize my current skills and learn new ones as my year here progresses.

I am originally from Red Wing and the small town of Bellechester both in southeastern Minnesota. I attended the College of Saint Benedict in St. Joseph, MN where I graduated as Natural Science major.

I am here to help the Healthy Green Communities Partnership and the community as whole carry out two specific food goals, creating a community garden and establishing a food co-op. I'll also be helping to strengthen the Pine River Market Square (the local growers' and crafters' market). I look forward to meeting and working with you on these exciting projects. Until then, feel free to contact me at with any questions or comments.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Market Square meeting

Quinn is presiding at the Market Square meeting held in old main.

If you are ever going to crash a party because of its good food, this is the one to choose; a pot luck in a group of local organic food producers.

Preparing for freeze up

Dave is checking the end of an irrigation pipe that is getting all the water blown out of it... just in time for snow on the weekend.

Keyhole Cornucopia

Dave has already made some fantastic salads almost exclusively from the keyhole garden near the kitchen. I really like how these things work. Check out a video about keyhole gardens.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Leave those lights on!

It's weird! We have to (temporarily I hope) reverse a good habit our mothers tried to train into us. In our new house on campus (ARC08), people are being good and turning off lights behind them, and I am running around turning them back on. I am asking them to leave the lights on. It is our only source of heat.

So far, there is still no furnace, no solar panels, no other way to heat the house. This past week has been cold, cloudy, rainy and has averaged about 40 degrees F. Even though we have pretty efficient fluorescent lights, we found out we can keep the whole house at 70 degrees just by leaving the lights on about 12 hours per day.
I think I am going to love having a super insulated house.
Sign up to get yours today!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

New solar panels

Wayne is working hard on the puttery business of installing our new experimental solar hot water panels on ARC08

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Kitchen garden evolving

Jim is spreading black dirt and mulch all over. The compost in it is still a little fresh. (phew!) But it looks nice.

New concrete aproach for the art sidewalk

This is nice and inviting. It leads to the new boardwalk, which makes a pleasant entry past the cob artwork while keeping people out of rain and ice and snow.

Making solar panels

We are finally to the point of building the solar panels for the ARC. The trick is to make them so they look like they belong on the building. In our case, that means making panels. Of slightly different widths so they come out roughly even around and between windows.

Wayne has done several detailed drawings, but it's always a bit different when you really try it out. So we built this wall mockup to prove out the idea.

Here we see a shot of the "Table Saw of Death" that has 3 blades and can process the 6 foot by 19 foot sheets of the twin wall into more manageable pieces. In this case, we needed several different sizes and widths, so this saw is just for the rough cuts.

Wayne is stacking the rough cut pieces before he trims them to size for assembly.

Meanwhile, Marlin is making the mounting rails that will frame the panels.

Tune in next time to see them going on the wall of the ARC.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Spiral Garden Update

The spiral garden is looking good

As is the keyhole garden...plants compose the perimeter of the garden and compost goes into the center.


It was such a nice day it didn't take much encouragement to get extra help outside...even moving rocks

With Ellen you just never know... :o)

Jim, Barb, Quinn, Kathy & Ellen cheer for a job well done

Nice work!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Teachers learning

Jim is teaching them all about bees.
This group of teachers from the Brainerd school district came here to Happy Dancing Turtle. They spent most of the day getting an intense tour, and brainstorming on ways to help kids learn about ecological living and how to remove activation barriers to actually do it.
It was fun to give tours to these folks because they asked lots of very good questions.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Starting a spiral kitchen garden

Barb and Dave working on a new spiral kitchen garden


Bob and Ryan and Kathy are all smiles because we just uploaded our research grant proposal to the department of energy. It was a marathon effort involving some of our best teamwork ever.
Wish us luck.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

New entry path to Old Main

Dave & Barb working hard on the board walk on the north side of Old Main - this will make travel across the rocks easier and winter entry into the building safer...and it looks really nice!
State Representative, Brita Sailer lead the Eco Campers on a tour of the Cass County Transfer Station, they paused for a moment between two rows of baled cardboard that will eventually be recycled.

Campers paused for an even shorter moment for this picture next to the giant trash piles. It was quite the sensory experience.

This morning the Eco Campers went on a garden scavenger hunt. Each camper received a clue and a picture which they had to find in the garden. Many hands were needed to harvest the potatoes - when they were done collecting vegetables they made stone soup, garlic-mashed potatoes and baked french fries. YUM!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Starting the keyhole garden

Located just west of the Old Main kitchen.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The boardwalk and grilling area on the west end of Old Main are taking shape and looking good!

King of the Compost Mountain?

Jim got out the elephant thermometer to check on the composting cow poo. At 106 degrees there's a lot of steam waiting to get out. With the TLC it is receiving - getting turned once a week and watered regularly - this compost should be ready in about 2 months.

Super Sweet Strawberries!

The strawberry plants that Dave and the crew planted this spring produced the sweetest strawberries I have ever tasted!

Monday, August 10, 2009



Everywhere you look this week, engineers and office people are scrambling hard to get tons of research, writing and editing done. It is a monterous task to get our research grant application ready to submit by Friday.
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Busy ECO Camper


Ewan, a student at Happy Dancing Turtle's ECO Camp is busy decorating his reusable shopping bag.
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Garden Garlic

In the foreground of the garden is this year's great garlic patch. Next year we need to plant 10 times as many onions to go with it.
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Great food everywhere

This is a great time of year to have productive gardens.
Dave is making pesto from garden basil and garlic.

Ellen is cutting vegetables for the marvelous stir fry that they presented to anyone lucky enough to be around for lunch.

I am getting more excited about the third part of our mantra regarding what houses should do...
1) Heat and cool themselves
2) Recycle all water and nutrients
3) Feed the occupants

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

"Resilient Living" a sign of the times

Learning to live resiliently may be a handy skill in the coming age of climate change, mass extinction and rapidly changing technologies. Our new signs announce to visitors that we are here to learn and practice resilient living.

This is the main sign near the road.

Complementary smaller signs like this show who is where on campus.

New spiral herb garden

Now that we have a new kitchen, some of Barb's dreams are turning real. For a long time she has been working toward the idea of a kitchen garden and picnic area just west of Old Main. The spiral garden and little bridge are two elements of her dream.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Everyone enjoys todays soup in our new classroom/kitchen.

I also like how the cob stairway adds a sense of old world art to the lunch room in Old Main. The scene kind of feels like the classical painting of the last supper, (except for the laptop in the foreground).

Fresh garden soup

A pound of hamburger and about 15 pounds of veggies straight out of the garden. Hardy and organic.