By Robert Barboza
OUTSTANDING CONSERVATIONIST: William W. Pinney, Jr., recipient of this year’s George G. Haydock Award for outstanding contributions to protecting the coastal environment, accepts his award from Lloyd Center president Mary Ellen Hawes Lees at the Center’s annual meeting Thursday night. Lees was re-elected president, joining Robert MacGregor (vice president), Mary Mandeville (clerk) and Tomas Cern (treasurer) for the coming year.
DARTMOUTH — With its 30th birthday coming up in a few weeks, the Lloyd Center for the Environment might best be characterized as a healthy, even vibrant organization, looking forward to the best years of its life as the center embarks on its fourth decade of existence.
That’s the picture Executive Director D’Arcy G. MacMahon painted for the assembled membership Thursday night as they gathered at the Dartmouth Grange for their annual meeting.
Established in 1978 with the donation of 55 wooded acres overlooking the mouth of the Slocum River, the center’s initial success was followed by some hard financial times.
“The Lloyd Center went through a tough period” in the late 1980s, Mr. MacMahon noted. Staff and program cutbacks enabled the budget to be put back into balance, and the process of rebuilding began.
Today, MacMahon was glad to report to the membership, the Lloyd Center is financially healthy, enjoys a first-rate reputation as an environmental research organization, and is expanding its educational offerings to students in the Dartmouth, Westport, Fairhaven and Fall River school systems, both in the classroom and in field trips to the woods and riverfront off Potomska Road.
The complete history of this remarkable comeback is told in greater detail by longtime member Bill Pinney in the Spring 2008 edition of Coastlines, the quarterly newsletter of the Lloyd Center, just off the presses and distributed to the membership at Thursday’s annual meeting.
Research Director Mark Mello reported on a variety of new research and monitoring contracts secured for 2008, which have already brought the center “double the revenue we brought in last year.” Estuary monitoring in Dartmouth has been turned over to SMAST, freeing the research staff to take on new projects in a number of Bay State communities, he indicated.
Education Director Tricia Sheppard told members of the expansion of the third grade Feathery Focus program into some Fall River classrooms this year, as well as the growth of the Turn the Tide program for fifth graders in Dartmouth, Fairhaven and Fall River.
“These are the next generation of environmental stewards,” she noted, and are being taught early of the importance of recognizing the connections between all living things in our small corner of the world.
Special awards and gifts were handed out to William W. Pinney, Jr., recipient of this year’s George G. Haydock Award for outstanding contributions to protecting the coastal environment; to Dr. Leslie J. De Groot for his efforts to establish the Slocum River Regatta; and to Deedee Shattuck, author of “Farmers, Portraits in a Changing Landscape”, who was on hand to sell signed copies of the book, with the proceeds donated to support the center’s education programs.
The evening’s keynote speaker was local farmer Andy Pollock, owner of Dartmouth’s Silverbrook Farm and founder of the town’s Farmer’s Market, who talked about locavores, consumers dedicated to buying fresh local produce to help support local agriculture and reduce the substantial carbon footprint caused by the long-distance transport of foodstuffs purchased in supermarkets.
“The growing green movement is on everyone’s lips these days,” Mr. MacMahon noted in his introduction of Pollock, an MBA holder who is a member of the advisory board of the Federation of Massachusetts Farmers’ Markets.
His choice as speaker at this year’s annual meeting was an effort to help promote local sustainable agricultural practices, McMahon said, suggesting, “What we really have to do is to get everybody to change their (purchasing) actions, not just their words” when it comes to promoting a greener economy.
Buying fresh and local is a key step towards that greener world, Pollock agreed, noting that 20 percent of all U.S. petroleum consumption can be traced to agricultural users. Simply put, he explained, being “a locavore is eating local.”
The average fruit and vegetable purchase from local supermarkets “travels 1,500 to 2,500 miles to get to your plate,” he reported; patronizing local farmers supports preserving open space while drastically reducing the petroleum consumption needed to transport food long distances.
If each person in America ate merely one meal per week from locally-grown food, the country would save 1.4 million barrels of oil per year, he noted.
The diversion of domestic corn production for ethanol, the genetic alteration of our food crops by big corporations, and rising oil prices making food more expensive for consumers were among the related concerns he mentioned in his introduction.
Fortunately, “Yankee farmers are not dead and buried yet,” Mr. Pollock said, instead utilizing the growing number of farmer’s markets to bring increasingly organically-produced fresh food to consumers and improve the profitability of local farms.
Thinking globally while acting locally, Pollock said he works with six other area farmers in a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program where residents pre-pay farmers for a guaranteed share of each season’s harvest. The basic premise, he suggested, is “if you buy local food, all the money goes to the farmer” instead of wholesalers, trucking companies, and food brokers.
Shop locally, and support your local farmers, he asked the membership, offering a list of area farmer’s markets where fresh produce is available during the growing season. The list includes the Dartmouth Farmer’s Market and the Westport Farmer’s Market, open Saturdays from late June through October.
Watch this newspaper for the announcement of opening days, or check on the locations of area farmer’s markets and CSAs in the online farm guide available at http://www.umassd.edu/semap/.