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Sustainable apples

by Caddie Nath
Summit Daily News

Last Friday, I was crunching on a red apple at my desk as I hurried through a working lunch trying to turn out a few extra stories for the weekend. To be honest, I was distracted enough that I wasn’t even really tasting the fruit, let alone thinking about it.

That, I learned a few days ago, was my problem. Well, one of them, anyway.

I wasn’t thinking really thinking about what I was eating.

I considered the obvious factors, the cost and calories. But what about where it came from? When it was harvested? How it got to my working-lunch table?

Until recently, it never really occurred to me that it’s mid-May and I’m eating produce that doesn’t come into season until September or that in Summit County apples don’t grow on trees any more than money does.

Or at least they didn’t used to. But these days, with three community gardens active this summer season and a fourth on the way, fruit and veggies previously unheard of in the High Country is going to be sprouting up all over the place. (OK, maybe not apple trees, but work with me here.) And in all three gardens, every plot has been spoken for and waiting lists are getting longer by the day.

It goes to show that the county is going a little crazy for sustainability.

And not just the good old-fashioned compact-fluorescent-light-bulbs sustainability. The new brand of sustainability Summit County seems to be hooked on demands a broader definition. It’s extends to economics and even social issues.

People are even forming clubs around the concept.

The Resource for Sustainable Living is an informal business-networking group that meets about once a month at various bars around the county. Traditional enough. Except that the resource is structured around – you guessed it – sustainable living.

I managed to land an invite to their most recent meeting at Vinny’s in Frisco, which featured a talk on local food production and, ultimately, led to what was probably more reflection than really needed to be bestowed on an apple.

Briefly, informally and, best of all over drinks, the group discussed ongoing local projects around sustainable food production – the case for why you should go grab yourself a plot – as well as their next meeting event: a tour of a member’s house built to maximize energy efficiency. The unfortunate owner was informed the group would be drinking all his booze whist admiring his lean utility bills.

The Resource started as a set of friends who all worked in or around the building industry and dreamed of a business network focused on green building. Over the last year the group has expanded, both in numbers – the listserv now includes 300 people – and in scope.

After Thursday’s meeting on local food production, one of the founders of the Resource explained to me why the group works so well: simply put, Summit County is into sustainability.

“Summit County has a lot of people that are passionate, not just about the environment, but about all the different things we can do as individuals to make where we live a better place,” Elena Scott told me.

The group has become primarily a forum to share ideas and to get others excited about projects like the community gardens.

And the energy is infectious. I admit to having thought long and hard this week, not just about my apple, but about my lettuce, celery, canned peaches and egg shells that were thrown away but probably should have been composted.

Because, apparently, sustainability isn’t just a fad anymore. It’s a way of life.

For more information about the Resource for Sustainable Living go to http://www.theresourcesummit.com.

Caddie Nath is a Summit Daily News reporter, recent sustainability convert and red-apple aficionado. She can be reached at cnath@summitdaily.com


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