New Trees Coming To Portland

The Jonah Center wishes to thank the 97 individuals and organizations who contributed to our successful Replace Our Trees Campaign in Middletown and Portland. Click on the following link to view the Tree Fund Donors. Including the original financial commitment of the Jonah Center itself, individual donations, and matching funds from Sustainable CT, the Jonah Center’s Tree Fund now has $20,000 available for planting — $8,000 for Portland and $12,000 for Middletown, based on the residence of the donor. Both municipalities have lost hundreds of trees recently due to drought, pests, and disease — sources of tree stress related to climate change. Tree planting and maintenance are important ways to mitigate the effects of climate change because large, older trees absorb and store carbon from the atmosphere. Continue reading

Home Insulation Incentives Raised Dramatically

Due to the pandemic and related economic distress, the State of Connecticut’s Energy Efficiency Board has dramatically increased the financial incentives for home insulation projects when completed by Home Energy Solutions contractors. Even without any incentives, insulation offers the greatest return on investment of any energy conservation measure a homeowner can make.

The new insulation rebate of $2.20 per sq. ft. means that many insulation projects are now virtually free. This is an increase from the $1.00 per sq. ft. for attics and walls and $.50 per sq. ft. for basement ceilings. This incentive rate applies for an attic that has less than R19, as well as walls and basement ceilings with no insulation when those are considered part of the building envelope. Continue reading

Raising A Roof Crop

Submitted by Jane Harris

The Middletown Garden Club has begun its eighth season of gardening on the rooftop of the Community Health Center. For the past seven years, our partner has been MARC, but Covid-19 has put that relationship on hold indefinitely. With approximately 500 square feet of irrigated raised beds, the rooftop garden has been highly productive.  The carefully engineered soil and water-recapture system work to make the beds ideal for vegetable and root crops.  Each year, we “open up” the gardens by removing any weeds that may have germinated over the winter, and begin to plan a new lay-out for the crops.  We rotate plant locations to avoid any possibility of disease build-up in beds, especially where tomatoes are grown. Continue reading

Jonah Center Raises $20,000 to Plant Trees

After a $9,253 match from the Sustainable CT Community Match Fund, the Jonah Center Tree Fund now has $20,000 available for planting along streets and sidewalks in Middletown and Portland. The project was initiated and received strong community support in recognition of the large number of trees that have died in recent years due to old age, drought, pests such as gypsy moths and emerald ash borers, and the replacement of sidewalks. Climate change has had a significant impact on the specific tree species that are suitable to our new southern New England environment. Continue reading

Local Food News

Support your local farms!

This message is from Jane Brawerman, posted on the CT River Coastal Conservation District’s Facebook page. Food security is on many people’s minds right now. There are many ways we can promote self-sufficiency in our town, region and state when it comes to our food. Farmers are working hard now growing fruits and veggies, and raising animals so we can enjoy healthy local foods. It’s a great time to connect with your local farmers and find out how you can buy from them to support their farms. Whether it’s signing up for a CSA, going to a farmers market, stopping by a farm store, or ordering online for pick up, you can eat really well, reduce your carbon footprint, and support local businesses! For more information about farms in your local area, go to the Connecticut NOFA Local Farm and Food Guide, https://guide.ctnofa.org/.

Healthy PlanEat will soon launch a new website that will enable farmers to manage inventory, distribution, and incoming orders from local customers. For updates on the launch (aiming for mid-June), please follow the Healthy PlanEat Facebook page or Instagram.

The Bridge, located in Middletown, makes tofu, seitan, amasake, and tofu salad, using non-GMO soybeans. Its products can be found locally at ION, Whole Foods, and the Willimantic Coop. The website is http://www.bridgetofu.com/.

Located in Haddam, Auntie Arwen’s Spices offers about 500 different spice and herb blends, as well as teas. The products are sold online and at farmer’s markets. The website is https://www.auntiearwenspices.com/about.html.

Owned by Nancy DuBrule of Middletown, Natureworks in Northford is a small garden center that focuses on organic gardening and native plants. Due to the pandemic, the retail shop is closed, but orders are taken on line at https://naturework.com/ and can be picked up at the curb.

Heirloom Market at Comstock Ferre in Old Wethersfield offers delicious organic food in its café, as well as groceries, bedding plants, and a wide variety of Baker Creek heirloom seeds. The Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/heirloommkt/, and the Web site is https://www.heirloommkt.com/.

The Rockfall Foundation’s newest video in the Nature’s Supermarket series highlights two types of nettles. Wood Nettle is a native species found in our woodlands. Stinging Nettle is an introduced species that may seem like a nuisance plant in your yard, but has culinary value and many other uses.  Click here for the video on identifying both types of nettle. We’ve included a recipe that we enjoy for Stinging Nettles Indian Style.

 

Issues Involving Arrigoni Bridge, St. John Square, Main Street, & Spring Street

While the project to repair and replace the approach ramps and sidewalks of the Arrigoni Bridge is underway, controversy about the work continues to swirl. Apparently, CT DOT’s original plan was approved by the previous Middletown administration with no public hearing or citizen comment. The stated goal of the project, according to CT DOT, was to improve the efficiency of Main Street between Washington and Hartford Ave. and the entrances to Route 9 and the Arrigoni Bridge. DOT’s interest in reducing congestion in this area is probably related to future plans to remove traffic signals from Route 9, which will involve some changed traffic patterns in the downtown area, especially near the bridge. Here are some of the issues and concerns surrounding the project. Continue reading

Water Chestnuts Threaten The Floating Meadows

water chestnut pull July 22The aquatic plant known as the water chestnut (trapa natans, not the kind you eat in Chinese food) showed its invasive potential in recent summers at many points along the Connecticut River and its tributaries. In our own Floating Meadows, the freshwater, tidal marshland formed where the lower Coginchaug and Mattabesset Rivers converge, the presence of these plants was first recorded in 2009.  The Jonah Center has been monitoring the area closely since 2013, pulling out a few plants each year.

The summer of 2016 marked a turning point. Since then, water chestnut plants have abounded,  forming expansive, dense patches at multiple locations.  in 2016, the Jonah Center and its partners removed approximately 48 canoes full in the course of 8 separate work parties. The pattern continued in 2017, 2018, and 2019. Then came the pandemic of 2020, when our ability to assemble large work parties became no longer feasible. Continue reading

Fight Climate Change and Plant A Tree

In the course of our campaign to increase Middletown’s tree-planting budget, some people told us they would like to donate their own money to plant trees. That’s commitment!  Then we heard about Sustainable CT’s program to match dollar for dollar any community-generated funds raised for qualified projects through IOBY (In Our Back Yards) – a crowdfunding service.For example, your $20 gift will instantly become a $40 gift.

Sites for new trees in Middletown and Portland are being considered. In Middletown, priority will be given to the North End, where the tree canopy is even sparser than in other parts of the city, and to high-visibility commercial corridors. In Portland, priority will be given to areas in the town’s central residential and commercial area where trees were removed for sidewalk replacement or due to disease. Funds will be allocated between the towns based on the residence of donors. 

 Click here to read more or donate. (100% of all donations will be used for trees; not administration.)

Action Alert — Support Bike Infrastructure

Governor Lamont’s CT2030 Transportation Plan Now Includes Bike- And Pedestrian Infrastructure

(Or so they say.)

The Governor acknowledges that we need to increase the use of public transit and that public transit needs to work better. But how are people supposed to get to a train or bus station?  One way is by bicycle!

The first public release of Governor Lamont’s Transportation Plan includes no mention of bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. Obviously, such infrastructure needs to be included in any smart transportation plan. To address climate change, air pollution, and highway congestion, we need to reduce the miles traveled by car, and to do that we need to improve access to public transit. Bicycles do that by providing a way for people to reach trains or buses (the “first mile”) and a way to reach their final destination (the “last mile”). Continue reading