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GreenGuide LLO




reduce • reuse • recycle • protect • preserve • restore

Friendly flock aids gardening By RON NEWBERRY


Diane Tompkinson can talk chicken with the best of the backyard poultry farmers. A retired educator, Tompkinson has raised chickens for 23 years, partly for what they do for her own well-being and also for her vegetable garden. The hens that strut around Tompkinson’s Coupeville property produce healthier and tastier eggs than those found in cold storage in stores, she contends. The chickens’ manure also packs a mighty punch to add to her compost piles to perk up her edible garden. And she finds that chickens like to peck at bugs, proving to be invaluable in controlling insects as part of her organic gardening practices. “When I first started raising them I liked being part of the complete cycle of the garden,” Tompkinson said. “The chicken produces the eggs. Their fertilizer was thrown into the garden. It went to the vegetables and the excess (vegetables) went back to the chickens. The perfect cycle.” Tompkinson’s chickens might be among the healthiest and most nutritious broods on Whidbey Island because of their diet. Their feed includes the excess from the organic vegetables in her garden and seven fruit trees. “Most people can’t afford to give chicken tons of kale, collard, spinach and apples,” Tompkinson said. “I’m still feeding them from last year’s harvest, plus some fresh greens. That puts my chickens at a great advantage in terms of flavor.” Regarding their eggs, that is. Tompkinson doesn’t raise chickens to eat them, only for the harmony they bring to her garden and for their eggs. She sells her eggs for $6 a dozen, which is a couple bucks higher than the going price among poultry raisers on the island. “I’m still sold out most of the time,” she said. When you can control the types of fertilizer that go into your garden and the sort of feed that goes into your chickens, a noticeable difference is found in flavor and nutrition of the eggs, Tompkinson contends. And she’s hardly alone in this belief. Louise Mueller has raised chickens on her Coupeville property for more than 60 years and likes to let her chickens range freely. She sees them grazing on her grass and knows that the more greens in their diets, the better the eggs. “The more greens they get, the more orange the yoke,” Mueller said. “The more orange the yoke, the more Vitamin A is in the yoke.” SEE FLOCK, PAGE 2

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Chickens help with natural gardening CONTINUED FROM COVER

“It’s very significant. The flavor is better, too.” “If you feed them well enough it’s actually proof of you are what you eat,” Tompkinson said. “These eggs come out so rich and so cheesy. One woman’s daughter asked once, ‘Did you put cheese in these eggs?’”

Want to keep local farms here on Whidbey? Buy an Island Grown, Free Range, Grass -fed burger at Neil’s Clover Patch Cafe!

Often the hardest part about raising chickens is building a suitable coop outfitted with the proper amenities. Learning whether a brood is allowed in your neighborhood or community is the first step. Oak Harbor, Coupeville and Langley are chicken-friendly communities that allow hens on residential properties under certain conditions, but not roosters. However, private covenants prohibit chickens in some neighborhoods. When one considers the cost of feed, the idea of raising chickens just to sell eggs doesn’t make a lot of sense, said Lauren Mueller, Louise’s daughter. Many other benefits attract chicken raisers. “Chickens are wonderful things,” Louise Mueller said. “It’s nice to pick them up and stroke their feathers and talk to them.” Tompkinson collects her chickens’ manure using drop boards placed underneath their roosts. She scrapes the manure into a bucket then applies it to any of her five compost piles to blend with other materials to create her own custom mix.

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“I do love the fact that I don’t have to risk getting any of the heavy metals that have been dumped into our garden supplies called compost or fertilizers,” said Tompkinson, who will be part of Whidbey Island’s Chicken Coop Tour April 18. “That’s how manufacturers were getting rid of lots of it, which was contaminating our food supply.” This is the same sort of thinking that got Pat and T.J. Lamont into raising their own chickens on their farm outside Oak Harbor 15 years ago. “The main reason we have them is we want to know that the food we eat does not have chemicals in it,” Pat Lamont said. “Having our own chickens means we know what they get to eat. They don’t eat hormones or antibiotics or some of the bad things that are out there. We know their eggs are safe.” But that’s not the only reason the Lamonts enjoy having chickens around. “We also just like the chickens,” Pat Lamont said. “They’re fun to watch. They’re good for eating insects and cleaning up around the plants and getting the bugs out of them.”

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Photo by Ron Newberry

Owning chickens can have a variety of benefits including egg harvests. The Lamonts had 16 chickens, including three roosters, until one rooster recently escaped its covered pen and learned quickly why it was covered in the first place. “An eagle got it,” Pat said. “A lot of people think we have it to make the chickens stay in. We have it to make the eagles stay out. And the owls. The owls aren’t as big of a problem here. Both eagles and owls love a fresh chicken.” When the Lamonts started raising chickens, they ate some of them, too, but no longer have the heart to do that anymore. They keep chickens and ducks in pens together, enjoying their eggs and other benefits. “For a period of time when we were living here we grew almost all of our own food,” Pat said. “We raised our own beef. We had dairy goat milk. We had a huge garden. We got involved with raising kids and working and couldn’t sustain that. We cut back. Now that we’re retired, we’re heading a little bit back in that direction. We definitely think it’s a healthier way to live.”

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015 • Whidbey News-Times


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Taking sustainability to a whole new level By JUSTIN BURNETT

There’s green and then there’s Elly, Bronco and Forrest Erickson green. This South Whidbey family is setting a new bar for sustainability with not just one but two homes built of alternative and recycled building materials. One is made of straw, the other of a highly energy efficient product known as insulated concrete form or ICF. But if that weren’t enough for a merit badge in green construction, each home is scored with reused components, from metal ship doors to wood from a childhood family home. Even the landscaping was reclaimed. “We’ve taken recycling to a new level,” Elly Erickson laughed. The family of three lives on a little slice of self-made paradise off French Road in Clinton. Elly and Bronco bought the property years ago knowing it was something special and with dreams of a green future. Over the next 15 years, they constructed two homes using energy efficient and unorthodox but not-so-new or revolutionary materials. In fact, straw has been a construction material for thousands of years. It’s cheap, an excellent insulator — about one-third more efficient than conventional homes — and was just what the Erickson’s were looking for with their first house, a small 380-square foot studio above a workspace/garage complete with a roof-top garden. A drawback to straw bale construction, however, is it lacks the structural stability for multiple stories. So the bottom floor was made using ICF blocks. Variations of insulated stayin-place formwork for concrete have been around since the 1940s, but manufacturers today have it down to a science, producing them with 85 percent recycled expanded polystyrene (Styrofoam) and 15 percent cement. Fitting together like Legos, they are reportedly easy to assemble, shape and are structurally strong. That stability is one of the reasons they decided to use ICF blocks as the primary building material for their second, three-story home next door. According to one manufacturer’s website,

ICF is 700 percent stronger than wood-framed walls. The company also claims benefits such as reducing energy bills by 50 percent, being noncombustible — an important one for Bronco as he’s a career firefighter — and safe from rodents, insects and mold. But the Ericksons knew they could do more than simply choose energy efficient building materials. Much of the wood that is used to accent the interior of their second home came from Elly’s childhood house, which was being demolished. Hardwood flooring came from an old basketball court. Copper tubing used on the staircase came from Craigslist. A fallen neighbor’s tree was used for the upstairs ceiling. The list goes on and on.

Photo by Justin Burnett

Elly Erickson and her family have taken sustainability to a whole new level, creating two homes with recycled materials.


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sePtIC traInIng for Home owners In Island County, roughly 70% of homes depend upon septic systems for waste water treatment and 70% are dependent on ground water for drinking. Many people have moved here from homes that were on a city sewer system. Even if they’ve been on a septic system before, systems can be very different. In order to protect our water and human health Island County offers classes for home owners with septic systems. Septic 101 teaches people how to live with their septic system in a way that helps them avoid costly repairs or replacement. Septic 201 classes teach people how to inspect their system. If you have a conventional gravity or pressure system, and pay $28, you could get certified to inspect your own system. These classes are taught both online and in person. For those with an alternative system like a mound, sand filter or aerobic treatment unit, you can attend our new Alternative Septic System Class. (This class is offered for education, not certification.) Alternative Systems require a licensed Maintenance Service Provider to inspect the system annually. Inspections, like a tune-up for your car, help catch any problems before they become expensive repairs or failures. Inspections are required by law every 1-3 years depending on the type of system you have.

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If you live in the Penn Cove Watershed, we have a Rebate Program that may cover the cost of your 2015 inspection, available while supplies last. If, during your inspection you discover the system has problems, we have financial assistance available for repairs or replacement. For a list of Septic System Maintenance Service Providers, online class registration or information on financial assistance visit: or call 360-679-7350. For details on the Penn Cove Watershed Rebate Program call 360-678-7913.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015 • Whidbey News-Times

Worms aid natural compost By JESSIE STENSLAND

Photo by Jessie Stensland

Camille Green, the Good Cheer Garden manager, scoops up a mixture of red worms, worm castings and bedding material in one of the worm bins at the South Whidbey food bank.

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Gardeners don’t have to spend a lot of money each year on fertilizer, compost and other soil amendments if they have the right kind of pet. A box of wiggly red worms can turn kitchen scraps into rich worm castings, otherwise known as worm poop. It’s called vermicomposting or vermiculture. The Good Cheer Garden on South Whidbey has eight in-ground worm bins, which produce many cubic yards each year of castings that are used in the large vegetable gardens in front of the food bank. Camille Green, the Good Cheer Garden manager, explained that the food bank’s worm bins are probably a lot larger — and produce a lot more castings —  than what a typical gardener might need, but it’s the same concept at any size. “We seek to be a zero-waste food bank,” she said, explaining that produce which isn’t used or goes bad as well as kitchen scraps are composted in either the traditional compost bins or in the worm bins. And the little guys are hungry. She said she feeds four of the bins once a week during the growing season. She digs her hands into the soil in one of the boxes and comes out with a handful of crumby, soft material with a few wigglers that she says has a pleasant, earthy smell. She explained that it’s high in nitrogen and has plenty of beneficial microorganisms.

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Green said the book “Worms Eat My Garbage” by Mary Appelhof is an excellent resource. It explains such fundamentals as where to place bins and what bedding materials to use. One thing for vermiculture newbies to watch out for, Green said, is overfeeding, which causes the bins to smell of ammonia because the plant matter is decomposing anaerobically. Also, make sure the worms don’t dwry out in the summer months. Green said the worms conveniently feed from the bottom-up, so she can tell that they’re hungry when they’re wiggling at the top. People can build their own in-ground worm bins; Good Cheer has both cement-block and wood bins. Or they can be purchased. The BugaBay Company in Freeland, which has a website at, specializes in cedar worm bins and also has a wealth of information about vermiculture. The company also sells red worms. Green explained that they are different than the earthworms that live in the soil around here. Red worms eat food waste and turn it into castings. In addition to worms, other beneficial creatures, such as the good-old pill-bugs, will join the feast. As the little creatures finish their feasting, it’s time to harvest the poop.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015 • Whidbey News-Times


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Environmental consciousness extends into funeral, burial planning By KATE DANIEL

Ecological consciousness is a prime topic of discussion amongst contemporary Americans, and many are electing to continue earth-friendly practices after death. The most common methods of modern postmortem care include a casket which is situated within concrete in the ground, or cremation. While cremation is considered to be more ecologically friendly than a standard burial, it can also be problematic due to the use of fossil fuels and air pollution from emissions. According to the non-profit Funeral Consumers Alliance of Southern California, cemeteries across the United States bury approximately 827,060 gallons of embalming fluid (which includes formaldehyde), 90,000 tons of steel and 2,700 tons of copper and bronze used in making caskets, 1,600,000 tons of reinforced concrete and 14,000 tons of steel used in manufacturing vaults. These materials are far from ecologically friendly, according to environmentally sustainable after-death care specialists like Lucinda Herring, a Langley resident, home funeral consultant and licensed funeral director. Herring is a part-time employee of A Sacred Moment, an Everett funeral home that specializes in facilitating ecologically conscious burials and home funerals. An ecologically conscious burial eschews the use of toxic materials in favor of natural, sustainable items such as willow or pine caskets or shrouds. Embalming is avoided whenever possible. Some natural burials include practices such as planting a tree in the burial location in place of a headstone or other metal marker. The body’s natural decomposition acts as fertilizer for the new growth. “It is including nature and the earth in our considerations of everything we do,” Herring

said. Herring explained that ecologically conscious burials often go hand-in-hand with home funerals, in which families or loved ones perform after-death care largely independent of a funeral home. Herring said it is still essential to consult with a licensed after-death care professional to ensure all laws and regulations are complied with, but otherwise a family may perform all aspects of the funeral and burial themselves.

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On Whidbey, a section of the Langley Woodman Cemetery is reserved for green burials and Sunnyside Cemetery in Coupeville accepts modified green burials, which require the use of a cement grave liner. In addition to environmental considerations, home funerals and natural burial practices are preferred by many due to the costeffectiveness and added opportunity for more personal, intimate farewells. Paul Kuzina, owner of Whidbey Memorial

funeral home in Oak Harbor, said that the funeral home provides ecologically conscious burial services, and has orchestrated a handful of partially green burials, such as those permitted by the Sunnyside Cemetery. Kuzina noted that he has, however, received a number of pre-death, preparatory requests for “true” ecologically conscious burials. “Choosing a natural death is aligning your care for the earth with your burial,” said Herring.

You cut the lawn, pruned the plants and trimmed the trees.

What should you do with the waste?

Compost it. Recycle it. Chip it. But please don’t burn it. Certified Home Funeral and Green Burial Consultant Licensed Funeral Director Ordained Minister • Celebrant

KNOW WHERE YOU CAN BURN OUTDOORS: Washington State permanently banned burning residential yard debris and land-clearing waste in Coupeville, Freeland, Langley and Oak Harbor. PROTECT YOUR HEALTH: Burning natural vegetation produces air pollutants that are harmful, especially for children, the elderly and those with asthma, respiratory illness or heart disease. For cleaner, healthier alternatives to burning, call the Northwest Clean Air Agency at 360-428-1617, visit, or call your local solid waste department. Langley cell 206.251.1843

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015 • Whidbey News-Times

Recycling home parts reduces waste and saves money By BEN WATANABE

Keeping cabinets, flooring, light fixtures, wiring and other home building and remodeling materials from the landfill is as easy as a phone call. Island County Habitat for Humanity’s Freeland store offers a free service to pick up and accept, with some limitations and restrictions, all the materials and supplies someone may need to redo a bathroom, add a room or other home work. Volunteer drivers pick up materials, if that’s what donors request as drop-off Tuesday-Saturday is also available, within 48 hours. “It starts with a phone call,” said Freeland store manager Corinne Rouse-Kay. Thousands of phone calls and drop-offs


Household Hazardous Waste Disposal Island County Solid Waste For more information, call or visit us at: (360) 679-7386

have led to more than a million pounds being kept out of landfills since the Freeland store opened. In less than four years since opening its doors in December 2011, the Freeland Habitat estimates it kept 1.25 million pounds of usable building supplies and materials out of landfills. (That figure is calculated by a simple ratio of for every dollar of sales 1.5 pounds is reused.) “The best part about it is, we’re keeping stuff out of the landfills,” Rouse-Kay said. Beyond keeping still — functioning materials and appliances in use, the Habitat store’s proceeds go toward the construction of a home for a low-income person in Island County. To date, four have been built based on the Freeland location’s sales. “Our whole main purpose is to build houses. It’s a perk to be able to reuse and repurpose things.” Just about anything that could be put into a home is at the Freeland store just off Main Street: doors, PVC pipe, windows, medical cabinets, dressers, bed frames, trim, lumber, flooring. One woman has taken advantage of the materials found at Freeland Habitat. Paulette Hill, who volunteered at the store since its opening and recently became a temporary employee, was able to build a 9-foot by 12-foot art studio on her Bayview property. She uses the room primarily to work on her paintings, but also as a guest room in a pinch.

• Help us restore and maintain special places for fish & wildlife • Learn how to use native plants • Be a volunteer teacher at the Maxwelton Outdoor Classroom All ages and school districts welcome

CONTACT US TO LEARN MORE • (360) 579-1272

Simple WAYS to take better care of your planet Buying local and organic fruits, vegetables and meats will help reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions created by food transportation, as well as protect the environment from pesticide toxins.

Only the framing and drywall were bought elsewhere. The rest of the interior, including the paint, cedar tongue-and-groove ceiling, cedar window trim, hardwood floor, cabinet, lighting, heating and chairs, has been repurposed from the Habitat for Humanity store. “About everything you can visually see came from Habitat,” Hill said inside her cozy, well-lit studio just a few feet from her home. Sure, not everything is brand-new perfect.

Help Keep Whidbey’s Watersheds Healthy!

Whidbey Watershed Stewards


Photo by Ben Watanabe

Paulette Hill shows off the interior materials and furnishings she bought from Habitat for Humanity in Freeland to build a 9-foot by 12-foot art studio.

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The average North American family uses 1,000 plastic bags every year, 80 percent of which come from food stores. Taking your own bags considerably reduces the amount of disposable bags used.



Composting for your garden allows you to cut household garbage in half. Install a composter and separate organic matter from other garbage and recyclable materials. Fruit and vegetable peels, egg shells, coffee grounds, grass cuttings and leaves can go in the composter.

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Some marks are still visible on the windows, signs of their past life. But the cost savings and lessened environmental impact were well worth it for Hill, who said she bought all of the Habitat supplies for about $400. She estimated she saved about $4,000. “Anyone can do it,” Hill said. “Anyone who has the want to do it … I had never pounded a nail before I started remodeling.”

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015 • Whidbey News-Times


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Contact Information: Todd Heppner 360-333-8805 PO Box 1344 Coupeville, WA 98239 BONDED & INSURED

WORK PARTIES Wednesday, April 1 Blackberry Pull, Hammons Preserve, Clinton Tuesday, April 7 Scotch Broom Extravaganza, Saratoga Woods

Saturday, April 18 Friends of SW State Park Partner Work Party Friday, April 24 Blackberry Pull, Crockett Lake, Coupeville

Time: 9 am - 12 noon. Sponsor: Whidbey Camano Land Trust. Sign-up at

Sunday, April 26 9:15 - 10:15 am

ACT • DENY • ADAPT Responses to Climate Change

Environmental Forum on PBS’s Earth: A New Wild

Visit for full details!

Friday, April 17 - May 31 Exhibit showcasing recent research on climate change, responses to the looming crisis, and solutions to decrease carbon emissions. Bayview Cash Store.

Every Sunday through May 26. St. Augustine in-the-Woods More info:

Tuesday, April 14 through Wednesday, April 22

Nine Days of Prayer to Honor Creation Each day’s reflection and meditation focuses on Whidbey Island.

Saturday, April 25, 1 - 6 pm EARTH DAY FESTIVAL

Visit for information on how to pick up or download a copy. Presented by Greening Congregations.

at Greenbank Farm

Featuring keynote by Kristin Ohlson, author of The Soil Will Save Us. Also, the 9th annual community peace picture, kids’ activities with Audubon and the SWHS Green Team, walking tours, solar farm tours, and networking displays. Followed by community dance with PETE.

Thursday, April 16, 5:30 pm Science While Sipping Is God Green? A Conversation about Faith and the Environment with Elizabeth Guss Blooms Winery Tasting Room Bayview Cash Store For more details:

Wednesday, April 22

Saturday, April 18 11 am – 5 pm


Welcome the Whales Festival

7:30 am - 11:30 am

South Whidbey High School Program

1:30 pm: Parade (downtown Langley)

12 noon - 3 pm

Wetland Wednesday at Freeland wetlands


1 pm - 3 pm

Vegan Earth Day Community Potluck Contact:

7 pm

Making Polluters Pay: The Carbon Tax Option, with Yoram Bauman.


12 noon - 6:30 pm

Earth & Ocean Appreciation Week

3:00 pm: Talk by JamesSumich, author of E. robustus: The Biology and Human History of Gray Whales. visit for complete details.

Sunday, April 13, 1 - 5 pm Tuesday, April 21, 7 pm

Field Trip: Birds and Marine Mammals

Too Much Love? Is Feeding Deer and other meet Doing in OakMore Harbor; various Wildlife Harm Thanlocations Good? Led by Steve Ellis, Whidbey Audubon Society with Ruth Milner Monday, April 20 At the Coupeville Rec Hall. Our Shared Responsibility: The Totem Info at: Pole Journey 2014 with Lummi Nation members Freddi Lane & carver Jewel James Friday, April 24, 4-6 pm All events at 7 pm

Wednesday, April 22 Economist, comedian, and author Yoram Bauman, Ph.D. on Making Polluters Pay: The Carbon Tax Option

Science While Sipping Septic Systems: What HomeOwners Need to Know with Maribeth Crandell

Keynote with Steve Rothboeck, workshops, more Friday, April 24 at Skagit Valley College The Climate Monologues, a one-woman musical with Sharon Abreau. Whidbey. Contact: Whidbey’s 2015 Earth and Ocean Month is organized by representatives from: Citizens Climate Lobby– rocco.strain@ Whidbey Chapter • Goosefoot • Greenbank Farm • Service, Education & Adventure (SEA) • South WhibeyTilth • Whidbey ECO Network and all of the good folks mentioned above!

our media partners:

Skagit Farmers Supply/Country Store

Bayleaf, 101 NW Coveland St, Coupeville

Profile for Sound Publishing

Go Green - Whidbey Green Guide 2015  


Go Green - Whidbey Green Guide 2015