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home. garden. life.
KALE THE CELEBRITY CABBAGE
FRESH FROM THE FOREST 1
D IstN E W I T H I D A H O HUNTER GATHERERS
bees’ needs the
helping honey thrive in the valley
MAINSTREAMING GREEN BUILDING H E M P, L O G S A N D S C I E N C E H I GH -TE CH F OR YOU R HAB I TAT
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Introducing our future office manager.
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Third Generation Specialists, covering The Valley since 1984
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Caring for our community since 1997
Landscape care professionals dedicated to preserving & protecting your growing investment
Owners Kris and Bill Josey (ISA Certified Arborist RM-0715)
P.O. BOX 397 • HAILEY, IDAHO 83333 • 208.788.1611 • FAX 208.788.1610 WWW.SUNVALLEYTREE.COM • EMAIL: KRIS@SUNVALLEYTREE.COM
Wherever Your Adventures Take You...
INSIDE 8 Eco Gadgets Innovations for the home. By Sarah Latham
The Valley's Store For Everything!
10 SustainIt! Awards The winners of Habitat’s annual green accolades. By Jennifer Tuohy
12 Small Spaces, Big Ideas
Conjure fruits and flowers out of thin air.
By Jena Page Greaser
14 Kale: The Celebrity Cabbage The super-hyped, super-food. By Cheryl Sternman Rule
16 Fresh From The Forest A feast foraged from Idaho’s land. By Matt Furber
20 The Bees’ Needs How Idahoans are saving the honeybee. By Tony Evans
24 It’s Easy Being Green Green building goes mainstream. By Katherine Wutz
home. garden. life.
PUBLISHER Pam Morris EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Jennifer Tuohy, firstname.lastname@example.org ART DIRECTOR Tony Barriatua COPY EDITORS Barbara Perkins, Greg Moore AD PRODUCTION Erik Elison, Kristen Kaiser CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Tony Evans, Matt Furber, Jena Page Greaser, Sarah Latham, Cheryl Sternman Rule, Katherine Wutz CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS Roland Lane, Paulette Phlipot, Ned Wheeler BUSINESS MANAGER Connie Johnson
Deli • Bakery • Meats & Seafood • Salad Bar Pharmacy • 1 Hour Photo
In-Store Location 911 N. Main Street • Hailey, ID 83333 Store Hours: 6 am - 10 p.m., 7 days a week Donnie Green, Store Director • 208.788.6709 RX 208.788.6713 6
MARKETING/SALES DIRECTOR Ben Varner, email@example.com SENIOR ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE William Pattnosh ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Irene Balarezo, Jerry Seiffert, Matt Ward Habitat is published annually as part of the Sun Valley Guide by Express Publishing Inc., P.O. Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340. For advertising and content information or to request copies of the magazine, call 208.726.8060 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. ©2013 Express Publishing Inc. Find us online at www.sunvalleyguide.com www.svguide.com/subs to subscribe C O V E R P H O T O : B E E A N D F L O W E R B Y PA U L E T T E P H L I P O T
habitat 2013 • sun valley guide
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GREEN GADGETS In todayâ€™s high-tech world, saving the planet can be pretty cool. Here Habitat rounds up the newest eco-friendly gadgets for the home. By Sarah Latham
Electree Solar Charger Using nothing but solar-powered style, the Electree keeps your mobile devices juiced via USB or wireless charging. The bonsai-inspired design features 27 twistable leaves equipped with 3.7-inch-wide solar panels. electree.net $380
habitat 2013 â€˘ sun valley guide
Viking MagneQuick Induction Cooktop Induction cooking transforms your cookware into a heat source, resulting in a cooler, more efficient method of cooking.
The Appliance Co. $4,339
Belkin WeMo Switch Turn electronics on or off from anywhere. The WeMo uses Wi-Fi to provide wireless control through a smartphone or computer for anything with a plug. Turn a curling iron off from the office, switch a light on in the bedroom without leaving the couch, control your electronics from the palm of your hand and cut down on energy costs. Best Buy $49
Ryobi Non-Contact Infrared Thermometer Save on energy costs by identifying hot and cold spots near doors and windows and check air vents for efficiency. Home Depot $29
Purist Low Flow Vanity Faucet Kohler's watersaving faucet combines understated style with laminar flow, which conserves water while preventing splashing.
Bicycles & sporting goods
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Fisher Appliance $620
Phillips Hue An LED light bulb controlled by your smartphone, the Hue allows you to create light recipes to match your mood or color scheme. Roberts Electric $60
Ergospace Green Proving that environmentally friendly, wellbuilt and affordable can go hand-in-hand, this strong but silent Electrolux vacuum cleaner is made with 55% post-consumer recycled plastic and comes in 90% recycled packaging. Walmart $190
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sustain habitat Habitat announces the winners of its second annual SustainIt! Awards, voted on by the residents of the Wood River Valley. By Jennifer Tuohy. Photos by Roland Lane.
AWA R DS 1st FAVORITE GREEN SERVICE PROVIDER
1st FAVORITE LOCALLY MADE PRODUCT EDIBLE
1st PHOTO BY JOSHUA WELLS
FAVORITE LOCALLY MADE NON PRODUCT EDIBLE
SUN VALLEY MUSTARD
SUN VALLEY CANDLES
The valley’s signature spicy condiment, Sun Valley Mustard has been handmade in town for nearly 30 years. In 2012, Joshua Wells took over what was then a struggling company and has spent the last 12 months transforming the much-loved brand into a true regional success story.
Sun Valley Candles began in 2011 as a personal project for Hailey residents Codrin Iorga and Cristiana Cristorean. Their mission was to create an all natural, 100 percent soy candle that from the cotton wick to the product packaging was fully biodegradable and made from recyclable or recycled material.
After opening a new production facility in Hailey and making a big push toward getting the mustard into gourmet stores, restaurants and delis throughout the Mountain West, Wells has turned the company into a profitable business that makes a significant contribution toward the long-term sustainability of the Wood River Valley. “As our company continues to grow, we hope to create even more quality jobs and perhaps stimulate investment in related industries,” Wells said.
The result is an environmentally friendly product, manufactured and sold exclusively in the Wood River Valley, a perfect example of community sustainability. “Sun Valley Candles is proud to contribute to strengthening the local economy,” said Iorga.
Runners-Up Runners-Up 2nd Sawtooth Brewery Beer—Ketchum’s only brewery serves locally inspired brews such as Off Trail Belgo Pale Ale. 3rd Bigwood Bread—Homemade, handmade loaves baked right here in Ketchum. 10
Runners-Up Runners-Up Three-Way Tie
Operating and advocating for sustainable alternative transportation options in the Wood River Valley, Mountain Rides served close to 500,000 passengers last year. By saving energy, reducing the valley’s carbon footprint, improving air quality and reducing traffic, the organization is making a significant contribution towards creating a more pleasant environment for all. Combined with its aggressive education campaign to encourage people of all ages to walk and bike, it’s no surprise the community picked Mountain Rides as its favorite green service provider. The organization is constantly searching for new ways to make green transport a more attractive option. “We are looking at alternative fuel types and the addition of solar options to our facilities,” said Kim MacPherson, the administrative support coordinator. “We have used an oil recycling program and are ordering smaller, lower emission buses for use on neighborhood routes. We are also constantly evaluating cleaner technology for our buses and building better bus stops, sidewalks and bike access so that the built environment better supports a more balanced transport system.” Runners-Up Runners-Up Two-Way Tie 2nd Environmental Resource Center—An organization dedicated to promoting a more sustainable environment through education, awareness and participation.
2nd Boulder Mountain Clayworks—A nonprofit space in Ketchum where artists, and the not-so-artistic, create precious pottery.
2nd Idaho’s Bounty—A food co-op and online marketplace supporting local producers.
2nd Jytte Hats—Jytte (You-tay) makes her fabulous merino wool beanies in her factory in Hailey.
3rd Clear Creek Disposal—Clearing up the valley’s trash and helping us all recycle.
2nd Rocky Mountain Hardware—Exquisite SCScertified, hand-cast bronze hardware manufactured in Hailey.
3rd Community School—An independent pre-k through 12th grade school in Sun Valley.
habitat 2013 • sun valley guide
1st FAVORITE GREEN BUSINESS
FAVORITE GREEN COMMUNITY ADVOCATE BUSINESS OR ORGANIZATION SCHOOL FAVORITE GREEN ADVOCATE PERSON
The Community School’s math and science teacher Scott Runkel gained a substantial number of votes from his students to win the accolade of Wood River Valley’s Favorite Green Advocate. “His passion to create a culture of sustainability beginning in kindergarten is a calling, not a job,” said one of his many admirers. That passion is matched by his employer. The Community School, an independent pre-K through 12th grade school in Sun Valley, was voted Favorite Green Advocate (business or organization) and Favorite Green Business this year. Recently, the school has adopted a zero waste goal (diverting over 1,000 pounds of food waste from the landfill last year), implemented a plastic bag recycling program, and made significant strides toward building a greener campus. “As we find systems that work for our school, our goal is to be that model that others can follow,” Runkel said. The school and its teachers also work hard to incorporate a strong focus on sustainability in the curriculum. “Currently students are working on designs of a net zero greenhouse (all water, heat, electricity are generated on site), as both an educational tool and for real food production,” Runkel said. A recent grant from the EPA allowed the implementation of a Trail Creek monitoring program, involving students in the protection of the creek that runs through their campus. Runners-Up Favorite Green Advocate (person) 2nd Erika Greenberg—Wood River High School teacher and coordinator of the W.A.T.E.R. environmental club.
Join us in promoting sustainable transportation. We encourage everyone to use the Mountain Rides bus service to all points in the Wood River Valley: Bellevue, Hailey, Ketchum & Sun Valley
3rd Elizabeth Jeffrey—City of Hailey’s Climate Challenge Construction Recycling Program Coordinator. Favorite Green Advocate (business or organization) 2nd Despo’s Mexican with Altitude—An environmentally friendly Mexican restaurant. 3rd Environmental Resource Center—An organization dedicated to promoting a more sustainable environment through education, awareness and participation.
www.mountainrides.org 788-RIDE (7433)
Favorite Green Business 2nd Despo’s Mexican with Altitude 3rd Site Based Energy—An energy management and renewable energy engineering, procurement and construction company. www.sunvalleyguide.com
Choose your pots Container gardening provides a great opportunity to repurpose old household items. Pretty much anything that will accommodate drainage holes can become a feature in your new garden (see sidebar). If you choose to shop for more traditional containers, bear in mind that wood, clay and unglazed ceramic containers lose moisture more quickly and will need more frequent watering than will plastic, metal, fiberglass or glazed pots. Metal pots invite temperature fluctuation, as much as 30 degrees between day and night; however, roots can be protected from extremes by lining the pot with bubble wrap or 1-inchthick foam.
Manage your MediuM
SMAll SPACES, big IdEAS Grow fruits, veggies and picture-perfect plants without a traditional garden. By Jena Page Greaser
etchum resident diana Anida has mastered the art of container gardening. For the past 10 years, she’s lived in a basement apartment in downtown Ketchum, where she grows a wide variety of edible plants on a small concrete patio. Her key to success? Big pots. “Big pots can be found for cheap, at places like the Gold Mine,” Anida said. She starts her plants in April, covering them when necessary to prevent freezing. Success with lettuce, snap peas, chives, potatoes, rhubarb, sweet carrots, garlic, onions and a variety of herbs have made the lack of a large garden in which to ply her green thumb a mere annoyance rather than a major sacrifice. Minimal space is no excuse for not growing your own food, or for not having a beautiful, colorful patio. Even the smallest of spaces can produce a surprising amount of food and flowering plants, and growing them in a variety of containers will add to both the aesthetic and stock cupboard of any condo-dwelling valley resident. Getting started is as simple as selecting the proper containers, choosing the correct planting media and deciding on the ideal planting combinations for your available space and desired results.
The next step is selecting the medium in which the plants will grow. Garden soil should not be used as it may contain pests and some soils don’t drain well. A soil-less mix of mulches or compost works well, or create a soil mix from one part compost, one part perlite, vermiculite, or coarse builder’s sand and one part pasteurized soil or potting soil.
piCk your plants When space is at a premium, grouping a variety of plants in each container is key, but it’s important to choose ones that cooperate with one another. Select plants with closely related needs; for example, most warm season vegetables and fruits do best in full sun, at least six to eight hours a day. Some fruits and a few vegetables tolerate partial shade during the hottest part of the day. Herbs and cool-season vegetables need only three to five hours of direct sun a day (preferably morning sun). Grouping can also be based on harvesting time (spring, summer or fall crops); form (round, horizontal, oval, upright or trailing); size (small plants in front and underneath and large plants above and behind); texture (coarse, medium or fine) and color of flowers, leaves or fruit. Allison Marks, program director at the Environmental Resource Center, recommends working outward according to size, so plant beans in the center with lettuce and nasturtiums below or vining cherry tomatoes surrounded by basil.
optiMize your spaCe “You can grow many things in small spaces, even corn!” Marks said. “I’ve started to plant my flower container with only edibles. There are so many colorful varieties, why waste space with nonedibles?” “In small spaces the best idea is to go vertical,” she said. A tiered hanging garden is one way to “grow up.” Old spouting/gutters, wooden planter boxes, wooden crates and clothes drawers can be cobbled together to create a beautiful cascading garden. The main thing to consider here is weight—make sure it is well secured and that the plants don’t become too cumbersome for the container. Whatever the size of your outdoor space, from a windowsill to a large deck, creating a container garden can provide a sampling of almost everything you might expect from its traditional counterpart. sVg habitat 2013 • sun valley guide
SURPRISING SMALL SPACES
You can grow plants in pretty much anything you can poke holes in. Here are a few ideas:
• A metal tool tote or tool box makes a perfect home for a succulent garden. • A pot, teakettle, colander or pitcher is a whimsical alternative to the traditional home of a pot plant. The colander has the advantage of already having drainage holes.
For all the pleasures of home & garden...
• A wheelbarrow is an inventive and easily relocatable container for a small vegetable patch. • Reuse old guttering and create a spouting garden. Using strong wires or chains, hang the guttering horizontally, one on top of the other on the sunny side of a structure. Fill with soil and plant lettuce, herbs, radish, chives, strawberries and other small plants that are not going to become too heavy when they start growing. Position it properly and dew will flow off the house surface, watering the plants at night. • Lightweight aluminum garbage cans add a splash of industrial chic to a container garden. Old tin cans and aluminum soda cans can be used for an herb garden. • A bike basket attached to a bike or not, can become a perfect pot. • Old boots are a fun place to plant leggy produce, but don’t use rubber, which can leach and transfer toxins into the plants. • Recycle old furniture, such as a desk, drawers or sink into creative containers.
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• An over-the-door shoe pocket organizer doubles as an ingenious space-saving herb garden. • Along the same lines, old socks with a small cloth placed in the bottom to plug any holes provide a good home for herbs. Hanging them on a washing line just outside the kitchen window provides for easy access when cooking.
Sawtooth Wood Products & Equipment Company
Monday-Friday 8:00–5:30 • Saturday 9:00–12:30 (208) 788-4705 • 775 South Main St. • Bellevue, ID 83313 www.sunvalleyguide.com
kale: the celebrity cabbage
Cheryl Sternman Rule, food blogger and author of RIPE: A Fresh, Colorful Approach to Fruits and Vegetables, delves into the newest super-hyped super-food. Photos by Paulette Phlipot
habitat 2013 â€˘ sun valley guide
few years ago you’d be hard pressed to find mainstream kale enthusiasts. Sure, health food junkies and vegetarians have known about this superfood for years, but your average Joe and Jane wouldn’t touch the stuff with a 10-foot pole. So, what changed? For one, kale chips—made by drying out stemmed, oiled kale leaves in a low oven and sprinkling them liberally with salt—gave these healthful greens a new grab-and-go convenience (and crunch) and catapulted them into the populist realm. In addition, dark green foods as a broad category began to enjoy greater attention from health writers, dietitians and even chefs due to their high nutrient density, bold color and culinary versatility. Suddenly, kale, with its newfound cachet, was everywhere. technically and botanically speaking, kale is a member of the cabbage family, a brassica like broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts. Rich in vitamins a and c, as well as iron and calcium, it’s not just a nutrient powerhouse, it’s also cold tolerant and therefore a good candidate for growing here in the Wood River Valley. Farmer Judd McMahan, owner of Wood River Organics, says, “You have to have a certain amount of fertility in your soil to get a full healthy leaf of kale.” he grows bunch kale, like the kind you’d find in the supermarket, and also a baby kale mix, which is so popular and in such high demand that he has swapped it in for the leafy spinaches he used to grow. “We’ve grown kale every year for 10 years and all of a sudden, two years ago, we couldn’t grow enough of it,” McMahan says. kale’s popularity doesn’t seem to be ebbing, in other words. If you’re interested in growing your own kale, McMahan advises planting three separate sowings beginning in the spring, to be harvested between summer and late fall. “If you have a cold frame,” he adds, “you can extend the season. It won’t grow from November 15 to February 15 due to the lack of light, but you can still harvest during that time.” Once you’ve harvested your kale, get creative with it in the kitchen. I like to toss kale in soups (see sidebar), substitute it for romaine in caesar salads, and juice it with green apples, grapes, mint and pineapple in a juicer or high-speed blender. Massaging its (raw) leaves with olive oil and something acidic—lemon juice preferably, but vinegar would work, too—helps break down the cell walls and tenderize it. “kale is a thick-leaved, thick cell-walled plant,” McMahan explains, “so by massaging it and using acid like you would with ceviche, you’re breaking it down and ‘cooking’ it a little bit.” “Oh! One more thing,” he adds, his voice excited. “kale and eggs. Sauté a little kale with your scrambled eggs. It’s like the best thing going!” Spoken like a true believer. sVg
GREEN NOODLE SOUP WITH KALE, BEANS AND PARMESAN CRISPS This beautiful, green-laden soup showcases dark and healthful lacinato kale, which may also be called Tuscan, black or dinosaur kale. Parmesan rounds provide a chewy bite, and crushed red pepper lends a warming kick. SERVES 6 • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil • 1 small onion, diced • ½ medium fennel bulb (no fronds), cored and diced • 2 garlic cloves, minced • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper • 4 cups vegetable stock • 2 bunches lacinato kale (about ¾ pound or 340g) • 1 (15-ounce, or 450g) can navy or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed • 4 ounces (115g) spinach linguini or fettuccini, broken into 2-inch lengths • 1½ cups (120g) coarsely shredded Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces) divided • In a large saucepot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, fennel, garlic, crushed red pepper, ¾ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften and begin to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the stock and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil. • Meanwhile, strip the kale leaves by “unzipping” them with a downward motion. Roughly chop the leaves (discard the stalks). Add the kale, beans and linguini to the pot. When the soup returns to a boil, lower the heat to medium and simmer until the pasta is tender, 8 to 15 minutes, depending on the type and brand. • While the soup cooks, make the Parmesan crisps. Heat a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. For each crisp, drop 2 tablespoons of cheese into a little mound, making 6 rounds total. Cook the crisps undisturbed for about 5 minutes, or until they bubble, brown, and begin to solidify. Flip with a thin spatula and cook the other side 2 minutes longer. Remove the skillet from the heat, and let the crisps harden completely. • Stir half of the remaining cheese into the soup. Adjust seasonings (you’ll need about 1 teaspoon more salt and plenty of pepper). Divide among six bowls, floating one Parmesan crisp in each. Pass the remaining cheese at the table. Recipe reprinted with permission from RIPE © 2012 by Cheryl Sternman Rule, Running Press, a member of the Perseus Book Group. Photography © 2012 by Paulette Phlipot.
“If you’re goIng to take somethIng out of the wIld, you should treat It well, rIght?” Scott Boettger
habitat 2013 • sun valley guide
Idaho’s other Gem
FReSH FROM THe forest Matt Furber sits down to a feast from Idaho’s forests, streams and mountains, all foraged by his dinner companions. Photos by Stacie Brew
n an era when food can be express-shipped anywhere, it’s refreshing to bring friends and families together to enjoy a mid-winter feast resplendent with sustenance gathered and hunted by those sitting around the dinner table. The history of Idaho is steeped in the tradition of hunting and gathering. Not so long ago on the Camas Prairie, just west of Bellevue, the Shoshone and Bannock Indians gathered and feasted on the nutritious camas bulb. An annual festival still celebrates the tradition. Today, Wood River families are rediscovering the benefits of gathering their food directly from the land, be it growing vegetables in the backyard, rummaging for mushrooms on the forest floor or stalking big game in the mountains surrounding their home. Sarah Kolash, 31, has been preserving wild berries and canning vegetables from her mother’s Broadford Road garden since she was a young girl. “My mom loves to can. It’s very traditional—salsa, pickled green beans, asparagus, fruits, apricot jam, peaches. That’s how I learned how to do it,” Kolash said, when she dropped in on an assembly of fellow hunter-gatherers in Hailey’s Fox Acres subdivision, the home of her friend and boss, Sally Boettger. Sally, executive director of the Sun Valley Center for the Arts, is an upland game bird hunter. Her husband, Scott Boettger, is a staunch conservationist descended from a long line of hunters from the Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, area. The gathered cooks had decided on a meal of chukar, quail, squash, parsnips, cabbage and morel risotto all sourced by the hands around the table that night. The pièce de résistance was a taste of hatchery salmon—some of the first in 28 years to be caught near Stanley after making the round trip to the Pacific Ocean. As Kolash sliced up some of her dill pickles, she explained that the red currant syrup she brought came from berries picked in August near her home in Gimlet by Boxcar Bend on the Big Wood River.
Idaho’s grasses, forbs and shrubs aren’t terribly appetizing for most palates, but the state’s wild botanical bounty does supply nutritious forage for the animal kingdom. hunters are grateful for the diversity of game sustained by the high desert and forest ecology of the south-central Idaho mountains. human foragers, however, are not entirely relegated to the multitude of berries for a wild treat, as there is one succulent morsel in the woods and along the rivers in particular that holds great cachet with those who like to hunt for wild food. It is the morel mushroom. Just the thought of looking for them in post forest-fire understory, where greedy hoards of morel fanatics often flock in search of their bounty, is enough to make one salivate. the fungus is intensely delicious when sautéed and can grow as big as a brain, which the morel distinctly resembles at that size. Finding morels is more art than science. Connoisseurs prefer smaller, harder-to-find specimens for the ultimate taste. these can be covered in leaves, soil and ash, and nearly impossible to see in their camouflage. But once the forager spots a pattern in the duff, like a multi-dimensional puzzle, the morel’s continued growth is certain to be curtailed. there is a limit to the take for the casual hunter, however. the quantity is five gallons. morels grow in a few varieties (Blaine County mushroom hunters know them locally as blonde morels), and can be confused with verpa mushrooms that cause severe dysentery. But that species is not common to the area. What is needed to collect morels? a stick, a bag and a keen eye open to seeing the ground in a different light should do the trick. a little insider information about where to search also helps. so be kind to your neighbor; she might point you in the direction to learn about more edible wild plants like the plethora described in books by John Kallas (www.wildfoodadventures.com), who travels the country teaching how to forage successfully.
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“I have to say the tomatoes are my favorite. In the middle of winter to be able to open them—it’s totally different from anything you can find in the grocery store. The tomatoes are the treat.” The beauty of a wild game dinner is that every course comes with a story the teller spins like a fishing reel with a roosterfish on the line. For the Boettgers, their tales revolve around the efforts of their english setters, who did the hard work of pointing out the quail that now lay on their plates. Groups that gather to share food they have harvested are proliferating, said Julie Fox-Jones, a neighbor whose family chicken farm preceded the Fox Acres subdivision that includes the Boettgers’ home. The night before, she had helped prepare an Indian meal for a local Compassionate Young Leaders group. She made spicy eggplant with about a gallon and a half of the purple vegetable left over from her 2012 harvest. “We did a lot of hunting,” Fox-Jones recalled of her youth growing up in the valley. “I used to have more animals. Now, I just do the chicken thing.” She added that her son brings home fish from Alaska. For her, feasting from the land year-round means fewer trips to the grocery store. “I have all sorts of tricks for preservation that I picked up from people here and there.” She is determined to embrace the ethic of sustainable self-sufficiency that she learned from her parents, who only had to purchase specialty imports like coffee, baking powder and other staples. Nonetheless, she was already out of carrots by this mid-February night.
“we get It In Its orIgInal PaCkagIng. that’s how we’re dIfferent from the food network. we know where our food Comes from.” Scott Schnebly It’s clear that for many hunters and gatherers, preserving the bounty of summer by one’s own hand brings some balance to the quest for a sustainable, healthy food web. “There’s a resurgence and I appreciate it,” Kolash said. As Sally Boettger and her daughter emily, a Community School fifthgrader, began to sauté their handpicked morel mushrooms for the planned risotto, she added that “it used to be for the sake of the environment— now it’s for the sake of your health.” A fist-sized morel decorated the Boettger kitchen counter as more guests gathered with their wares to help prepare the meal. When asked where she found such an impressive quantity of mushrooms, emily Boettger said jokingly, “Whisky Canyon.” Scott added that some of the good spots are along the Big Wood River on property that is being protected with help from the Wood River Land Trust, the organization he leads. A gorgeous orange squash that complemented the assembled game was harvested from Fred and Judy Brossy’s Shoshone farm, where they run ernie’s Organics. The farm is a habitat 2013 • sun valley guide
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prize of the Land Trust’s ongoing effort to protect productive land and habitat in south-central Idaho. “It all fits together,” Scott said, as he and emily showed the contents of their deep freezer—deer, elk and pronghorn, meat that had been through the family vacuum-packing assembly line. “The connection to the land is direct.” Scott’s bounty comes from his annual Sportsman’s Package hunting and fishing license, which includes the right to harvest steelhead, salmon, elk, deer and bear with archery and muzzleloader permits. When he shoots an animal, he takes on all the work, from field dressing to setting the table. “If you’re going to take something out of the wild, you should treat it well, right?” he said. Outside the garage, at a neighbor’s house, a rooster was crowing. Scott Schnebly arrived at the Boettger house with duck rumaki (bacon-wrapped duck with jalapeño and watercress) that was quickly grilled up as an appetizer while Schnebly prepared the chukar and quail just defrosted from one of the many freezers that he stocks each year with his partner, Susanne Connor. Together the couple run Lost River Outfitters in Ketchum. “You won’t find anything like this in New York City,” Schnebly said, while stuffing and breading the chukar for the frying pan and talking about the fishery potential downstream from Magic Reservoir. “We get it in its original packaging. That’s how we’re different from the Food Network. We know where our food comes from.” “It’s what we do,” said Connor, who manages a number of gardens at the couple’s Hailey home on the Big Wood River. “We have lots of jam and pickled food.” Connor prepared rotkohl, cabbage with vinegar—a specialty of Bavaria, Connor’s homeland. “It’s what you eat with the game meats.” Connor, who also makes a game sauce with elderberries, cranberries, blueberries, blackberries and boysenberries, said she likes to hunt game because “it’s not pumped up with hormones.” She prefers to track large game. “Birds are on the top of the world,” she said, explaining that in addition to putting food on the table, her aim is to minimize the number of animals she kills. A single bird doesn’t provide much food. “I hunt deer and elk—the bigger, the better—one bullet.” Despite the challenges to survival of creatures like the threatened sage grouse due to loss of habitat and other impacts, Scott is convinced that the stewardship of species is closely tied to knowledge gleaned from hunters who have an interest in sustaining the animals they hunt. Passing the torch is a piece of the puzzle. emily has her own rifle. Sally has a Remington shotgun. Scott’s son Gunner, a thirdgrader, prefers to fish. He tells the story of bait fishing for king salmon and almost being pulled into the river. “They are so strong,” he said, demonstrating his technique by planting a foot on the living room floor with his hands wielding an invisible fishing rod. “Dad pulled on my back.” After all the preparations for the meal were complete, it was time to eat the precious cache of plump morels in the risotto, which went exceedingly well with the chukar, quail, rotkohl, asparagus, the beautiful orange squash and a tart that Connor made with apricots and currants plucked from the rocks and desert sage around Magic Reservoir. sVg
Pharmacy Hours: Monday thru Friday 9 am-6 pm • Saturday 10 am-4 pm 19
habitat 2013 • sun valley guide
Tony Evans explores how Idahoans are helping save the honeybee. Photos by Paulette Phlipot “Bees are absolutely the most fascinating creatures,” said Norma Kofoed, owner of Veebee Honey in Buhl, Idaho. “You can tell how happy they are by their hum. If they are upset you can hear that, too, and you don’t want to go too close. They will warn you by bumping you with their heads before stinging you.” The symbiosis that exists among human beings, honeybees and the many plants they pollinate each year is one of the most remarkable in the natural world, and one of the most important. Yet it is also one of the most threatened—including in southern Idaho. “Bees are having a pretty hard time making it on their own anymore,” said Tom Harned, owner of Five Bee Hives in the Wood River Valley. Harned took to beekeeping four years ago and today has 400 hives, which he rotates through plots in Croy and Quigley canyons near Hailey as well as backyards in Hailey and Bellevue that he rents from their owners, paying in honey. “Research shows that about 98 percent of feral hives have vanished from our landscape—killed off by other introduced bugs and diseases. In general, the only bees left are those under the care of beekeepers.” Beekeeping, or apiculture, dates back to the time of ancient Egypt, when bee colonies were kept in vessels from which its workers flew to scour the countryside in search of nectar from flowering plants. In the process, bees also transferred pollen between pistils and stamens of nearby plants and flowers, providing a crucial bridge for an abundance of local produce. Still today, honeybees aid in the pollination of the plants that humans rely on for food, including seed and feed crops, beans, vegetables, fruits and nuts. The honeybees’ vital role in agriculture came sharply into focus in 2007 when “colony collapse disorder” became front-page news. Thousands of beehives, many of them used to pollinate large-scale agricultural operations in the United States and Europe, were mysteriously dying. “Bees are essential,” said Kofoed, of VeeBee Honey. “Colony collapse could even affect our meat supply because honeybees pollinate a lot of alfalfa and clover and prairie grasses out on BLM land, which are used for grazing cattle.” The threat to crops prompted an alarm to
Tom Harned inspects the production of one of Five Bee Hives’ 400 bee colonies. The hives live and work in backyards and fields throughout the Wood River Valley. Photo by Roland Lane
be sounded. Studies were launched. The press cited multiple causes for colony collapse, from pesticide use to a lack of genetic diversity to cell phone radiation. The studies came back with complicated answers, including some causes that have been affecting bees for centuries. Small-scale beekeepers, including those in southern Idaho, began coming up with creative solutions on their own.
Kirk Tubbs is a beekeeper with a solid footing in the scientific world. His day job is managing the Twin Falls County Pest Abatement Program. He and his family also run Tubbs’ Berry Farm, offering beekeeping classes to the public each spring. “I tell people to think of colony collapse as death by a thousand cuts,” he said. “No one has narrowed it down to just one cause.” However, Tubbs cites varroa mites, which came to these shores about 20 years ago, as a leading contender. “Beekeepers used pesticides to fight the mites, but these pesticides began to build up in the hives’ wax. The mites developed resistance to the pesticides, basically becoming immune to them. When mites go bee to bee, they spread viruses. I tell people just starting out that if you don’t treat for mites, you’ll lose your hive within two years.” A federally certified wildlife biologist who worked as a technician for the U.S. Department of Agriculture for 10 years, Tubbs oversees a
“Working with bees is not something you can learn. It is a sense.” Norma Kofoed
Ananda Kriya harvests the honey produced by his River Street hive last summer. Locally made honey is available to purchase at Nourishme, Main Street Market and Atkinsons’ Markets in the Wood River Valley.
mosquito and black fly control program in Twin Falls, using natural, biologically based products rather than pesticides and other chemicals. He also uses primarily naturally based treatments for mites, including thyme oil, which irritates the mites until they fall off the bees. He sprinkles powdered sugar to clog the mites’ feet, also causing them to drop off the bees. Tubbs said some beekeepers are selecting for naturally occurring “hygienic behaviors” in worker bees. “Some bees will sniff out diseased bees and get rid of them before they hatch. It’s an exciting thing and it’s working. Someone with a handful of hives will do a lot of experimenting.” VeeBee Honey in Buhl began in 2003 with 50 hives and today boasts more than 1,000. Kofoed, who owns the operation with her son Scott VanDerwalker, said it “got hit pretty hard” three or four years ago and lost about 40 percent of its bees to colony collapse disorder. 22
Along with citing the varroa mites, Kofoed has her own theories as to the reasons for the collapse, including feeding the bees highfructose corn syrup in winter from genetically modified corn seeds. Some GMO seeds have been modified to resist the corn borer, and the modification could be passed on to bee colonies during pollination. Kofoed has used antibiotic powders mixed with powdered sugar to treat Nosema apis, a small, unicellular parasite recently reclassified as a fungus that causes diarrhea in honeybees. She has also used menthol to treat microscopic tracheal mites. Since colony collapse nearly destroyed the business a few years ago, VanDerwalker has created hundreds of new colonies by making his own “nukes”—nuclei of bee broods from active hives. Kofoed explained that male drones know how to make a queen on their own. They feed some of the female larvae a glandular secretion called royal jelly, which
causes queens to be conceived. If a good queen bee prospect is born, the drones kill the rest of the competition. “Royal jelly must be pretty powerful stuff, as it turns a regular worker bee into a queen bee,” she said. It was a lot of work to rebuild the lost hives, but by last summer VeeBee Honey had more hives than before colony collapse disorder struck. “I’m very optimistic about bees,” Tubbs concluded. “Mysterious bee deaths are nothing new. You can read about them in bee journals from a hundred years ago. But people back then were probably dealing with different causes than we are now.” The national attention that the plight of the bee has attracted has shined a light on the importance of small-scale beekeepers, which in turn has opened consumers’ eyes to the benefits of local, raw honey. Whatever a bee ingests winds up in its honey. Bees collect nectar from flowers up to six miles away from habitat 2013 • sun valley guide
a hive, through a long proboscis, regurgitating the nectar into thousands of hexagonal cells in the hive. The nectar is then dehydrated into honey and used as a food source, for both bees and humans. It contains amino acids from pollen and enzymes from bees’ bellies. The mix produces distinctive flavors and other properties gathered from surrounding vegetation. VeeBee hives are scattered in bunches of 20 to 30 hives per “yard”—beekeeper jargon for a collection of hives—around southern Idaho, including in the Wood River Valley. Yards are placed close to alfalfa and trees that bloom, such as locust and Russian olive. In the Wood River Valley, bees especially gather around wildflowers. This honey has a different taste than agricultural honey, Kofoed noted. “This year, it had a hint of apple and cinnamon, like an apple pie. I have no idea what gives it that flavor. It was so pretty and so tasty.” This honey is of particular significance to those who suffer from allergies. “Wild honey not only tastes good but has medicinal value,” Kofoed said. “Most is not filtered of pollen. People who are allergic to ragweed and the other things the bees are around will become desensitized to their allergies by eating raw honey with pollen from within the area. Most allergy specialists will tell people to go eat some raw honey from their area if they’re allergic to local plants.” Like most raw honey producers, Harned, of Five Bee Hives, does not filter his nectar, using only small amounts of heat when extracting it from the comb and when bottling. Too much heat kills the healthy enzymes in the honey, eliminating almost all the benefits and leaving a substance that is as nutritious as white sugar. As well as an effective allergy treatment, raw honey’s antibacterial properties can help treat wounds, prevent infection, heal sunburn and improve acne. It’s also packed with vitamins B2, B3, B5, B6 and C, as well as minerals, including potassium, magnesium, zinc and iron. The value of the honeybee is clear, and while the scientists and professionals look for a solution to its ongoing plight, everyone can help its odds of survival. “If you see one of the bees in your yard sometime, take care to watch it collect the pollen and nectar from flowers or perhaps drink from the birdbath or pond,” Harned said. “Planting bee-friendly flowers in the yard will encourage the forager-bees to come visit, so please consider helping them out in that small way.” Late last August, patrons of Lefty’s Bar & Grill in downtown Ketchum were treated to a rare sight as they sipped their beverages under the hot summer sun. A swarm of honeybees swept over their heads. The bees had belonged to Ananda Kriya, from whose historic wooden house on River Street they had ascended after their hive had become too crowded, leaving a few busy worker bees behind to repopulate. Kriya, who for many years lived in a monastery in Hawaii where he learned to raise bees and sell their honey to bakeries in Honolulu, started the hive with a brood from Marsing, Idaho. “The bees have a way of quieting down the place psychically,” he said. “They calm everyone down around here.” He watched as the bees headed west in search of a place to live in the wild. “I hope they find a good home,” he said. sVg www.sunvalleyguide.com
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green As trends and techniques in eco-friendly building continue to push closer to the mainstream, building a green home is becoming a more viable proposition for the average homeowner. Katherine Wutz talks to three Hailey residents who have taken a step in the direction of sustainability, building comfortable, affordable homes that are also green. Photos by Ned Wheeler
habitat 2013 â€˘ sun valley guide
hemp a house of
It was while standing in front of a burning pile of plastic Coke bottles somewhere in Mexico that Blake Eagle’s whole outlook on life changed. A few months previously, he and his wife, Angie, had sold everything, bought a camper van (complete with aftermarket solar panels) and hit the road. The yearlong journey, which took them from Banff, Alberta, south to Mexico and Guatemala, really opened their eyes to the challenge of managing garbage outside of a home. “When you start buying your groceries and look at where your garbage is going, [you realize] there is nowhere to put it on the curb and have someone take it away,” Eagle said. “You are responsible.” The Eagles’ own small efforts to limit the waste they produced by purchasing fresh food and buying beer on tap rather than in bottles or cans seemed insignificant when the global problem of consumption hit them full in the face in the form of Mexico’s trash bonfires. “There were piles as big as a car on fire every day,” he said. “It was like Mexico was on fire the whole time we were there.” This experience, combined with a distaste for what he saw as excess consumerism in the United States, prompted Eagle to build a home for his soon-to-be expanding family that would be durable, affordable and, ultimately, recyclable. A contractor by trade, Eagle researched exhaustively to find the perfect material. He finally decided on Hemcrete, a concrete-like substance made with industrial hemp. His home built out of hemp looks conventional, but behind the stucco and paint is an industrial hemp and lime-based binder mix instead of traditional insulation and drywall. Hemcrete is a brand of hempcrete, a substance with many of the same applications as traditional concrete, but which is seven times stronger than concrete, about half its weight and more elastic, which means it is less prone to cracking. In addition, hempcrete walls are resistant to mold, because hemp and lime wick moisture out of the air and then release it into the home if the humidity drops. And, unlike most traditional building materials, hempcrete can be taken out of the walls, pulverized and remixed if the house is ever remodeled. That means Eagle can recycle his walls. Eagle’s home is the first permitted home in the West to be built out of hempcrete. However, despite ample evidence of hempcrete’s successful application in housing projects, warehouses and shopping malls across Europe, persuading local building www.sunvalleyguide.com
officials that hemp is a safe and legitimate building material was no easy task. “The first thing they asked was, ‘Can we smoke your house?’” he said. “I had to back them up and explain.” Hempcrete is made from a variety of the plant that is very low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and therefore has little of the psychoactive qualities of its cousin marijuana. The officials were also concerned by hempcrete’s lack of an International Code Council report. The ICC, the body that oversees safety of building materials, will release a report on hempcrete in the next year, so those who want to follow in Eagle’s footsteps should have an easier time. Eventually, Eagle had to sign a waiver of liability saying he would not hold the city accountable if the walls of his house crumbled. This scenario seems unlikely, however. In Japan, a 300-year-old hemp house is still in one piece. “Over time, the walls will get harder and harder and more durable,” Eagle said. “The only thing they have done [to the Japanese house] is resurface the outside.” As the wall becomes harder, the material will absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, potentially offsetting carbon emissions that resulted from shipping the hemp more than 600 miles from Canada. Eagle, Angie and their new daughter, 1-year-old Alena, will move into the home this spring. “We’ve put in some big days and sacrificed some family time,” he said. “But it will all be worth it when we’re able to move in.”
Contactor Blake Eagle grabs a handful of hempcrete, the hemp and lime-based binder mix that he used to build his family home. The structure is the first of its kind in the West.
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old Few people would go so far as to send a 2,000-squarefoot log cabin rolling down state Highway 75 in the name of reducing consumption, reusing materials and maintaining marital bliss. But that’s exactly what Hailey residents Nancy Linscott and Michael Kraynick did last fall, turning a vacation rental cabin from north of Ketchum into a cozy family home in old Hailey. The two had wrangled for months on what their dream home would look like, Kraynick favoring clean and modern looks while Linscott did not. “When we sat down and tried to put pencil to paper, we were on different tangents,” Linscott said. Finally, they found a log cabin—just the cabin, not the property—for sale in the Idaho Mountain Express classifieds. The fully furnished cabin sat on property that the current owners planned to turn into a horse pasture. Linscott and Kraynick sensed an opportunity. “Log construction is very expensive now,” Kraynick said. “You really couldn’t build a log house for anywhere close to what we could move it for, and really probably couldn’t build a regular house for anywhere near that.” “We are pretty big users of the used and discarded,” Linscott said. Starting with the home, the couple continued down the path of reusing unwanted materials, buying all the appliances for the newly remodeled kitchen secondhand from sources such as the classifieds and the Building Material Thrift Store in Hailey. “There’s always someone doing something around here, or a house in the Fairways whose owners can’t stand their new water heater,” Kraynick said. Linscott added, “There’s pretty much nothing that’s not attainable if you’re willing to be patient.” The largest “discarded” item that the family will reuse is the two-story 1940s house that sits on the Hailey lot that the couple owns. The house’s previous owner had died, leaving a house that stank so mightily of cat urine (“unbelievably foul,” Linscott said) that it was considered a total loss. Expecting to use it mostly for scrap wood, the couple removed the floor and found that most of the smell went with it. Now, the house serves as a woodshop and storage shed, outfitted with windows and doors from the thrift store. “There’s this something old, something new feel to the whole project,” Linscott said. Above, Hailey family Nancy Linscott, Michael Kraynick, daughter Inez and Haas the dog stand in the doorway of their “recycled” home. Rather than go through the expense and environmental impact of building a structure from scratch, the family transported an unwanted log cabin (left) from north of Ketchum to downtown Hailey.
habitat 2013 • sun valley guide
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The two-story, four-bedroom home in the family friendly Northridge neighborhood just north of Hailey
Thad Farnham has built a standard family home that boasts heating bills of under $100, even in the depths of winter.
has three and a half baths, a large bonus room and common space on the second level. Granite countertops, Kraftmaid cabinets, a large laundry room, wool carpets, oak floors, a garage and large yard with raised flowerbeds and drip irrigation round out a house that has every feature that a family might want in a new home. But behind the facade lurks a secret. Builder Thad Farnham has injected this ordinary-looking home with the latest in green technology, offering one other thing every family might want—a heating bill under $100 a month, even in the depths of winter. Farnham’s modus operandi is simple: Use conventional methods to build the most efficient house possible. “A lot of my construction methods are old school, but they’re executed to the highest level,” he said. “It’s fun as a builder to have these challenges, to figure out what is the most efficient way to build a house that is as efficient
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as can be.” The secrets of the home’s low power bill are hidden within the walls and windows, in the frosted-glass LED light fixtures scattered through the house and in a small closet just off the laundry room. The house features the standard two-by-six studded walls, but instead of one single wall, Farnham has built two, filling the gaps with the standard fiberglass insulation. This method helps prevent “thermal bridging”—heat being conducted from the inside of the house to the outside through the studs. The R-value, or resistance to heat loss, of an average exterior wall with modern fiberglass insulation is R-21. Farnham’s walls have an R-value of 38, with an R-value of 60 in the attic. The home also features Pella fiberglass windows filled with argon gas, which are as efficient as a standard double-paned window can be. Farnham had toyed with the idea of using triple-paned windows, but decided that the benefits did not justify the expense, especially for a home that he was going to put on the market. “Triple-paned windows are out of the range of most people,” he said. All of this contributes to keeping the home virtually air-tight. Unfortunately, this can lead to complications. For example, traditional homes are typically ventilated “passively”—that is, fresh air seeps in through the walls and through poorly sealed windows, keeping air in the home fresh but making the house’s heating systems work harder to keep up. In Farnham’s house, fresh air comes from an air exchanger in the laundry room closet. The exchanger pulls fresh air from the outside and heats it using the stale interior air as it is picked up and expelled from the home. It also brings the fresh exterior air temperature to 76 percent of the temperature of the interior air, leaving less work for a traditional furnace. The effort put into efficiently heating fresh air pays off. The heating bills for November, December and January averaged $60 a month, only climbing to a high of $74 for the month of January, which had nearly record-breaking cold. In contrast, Farnham’s own home, which is 500 square feet larger, racked up power bills well over $200 a month. “There’s such a vast array of things you can do to make a house green,” Farnham said referring to advances in solar and other green technology. “[But] I want people to walk in and not feel like they’re walking into the middle of a science project. I want them to feel that this is a normal, conventional house, but I want them to be surprised when they get their energy bill.” sVg 28
Cut the Cardboard By Elizabeth Jeffrey
Luke Snell shows off his remodeled Main Street pharmacy in Hailey.
The hemp house, log cabin and air-tight home featured in our story each have one more green accolade to add to their eco-cred: they’re participating in the city of Hailey’s Construction Recycling and Diversion Pilot Program. The program was launched in February 2011 to address the startling statistic that the building industry is responsible for 25 to 40 percent of a community’s landfill waste. It also attempts to mitigate the greenhouse gases generated by the 200-mile round trip from Ohio Gulch Transfer Station to the landfill in Burley. In its first two years, eight local building projects, including the Blaine County School District’s maintenance building, Hailey Elementary School and the River Street apartment development, participated in the program. The five projects that are now complete saved $8,242, diverted an average of 49 percent of construction waste away from the local landfill and avoided emitting 206 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. The program is funded by a three-year grant from the Environmental Protection Agency, and is part of Hailey’s Community Climate Challenge, which is designed to empower people to save energy and money, support the local economy and share ideas with other communities. The construction program offers contractors up to $500 for costs associated with diversion and recycling in exchange for their commitment to divert and recycle as much as they can, so the city can see how to make the process most efficient for contractors in the future. Luke Snell and his contractors K&M Construction participated in the program with the remodel of the 120-year-old Werthheimer Building on Main Street in Hailey, from clothing store to the ideal space for Luke’s Family Pharmacy. The
project diverted 56 percent of its waste and saved $120 in waste disposal costs. The key to their success was in the three R’s—reduce, reuse, recycle. Reduce: Snell cut the amount of materials he needed by embracing the style and charm of the old building, including no false ceilings to cover the old tin tiles or drywall to hide the aged brick of the interior walls. Reuse: “There were some nice items left behind from the previous owners that our local second-hand stores could sell for good money (computers, shelving, clothing racks, banisters, etc.), which is just keeping money in the local economy,” Snell said. “There are a few shelving units that I will be using downstairs once the project is complete. There was nothing that I personally had to dump in the trash or take to the landfill.” Recycle: Snell’s recycling of demolition materials involved collecting clean lumber (wood without any toxic glues, paints or stains) from inside the walls of the previous interior, which went to Ohio Gulch to be recycled into compost, costing Snell only $10 per ton, versus the $65 per ton if it had gone direct to the landfill. Once the site was ready for construction, K&M stepped up the recycling efforts. Owners Erik Nilson and Brian Donelly flattened and recycled all cardboard, first at the Park and Ride lot, where Hailey residents and businesses can recycle clean corrugated cardboard for free, and then in their own trash container (trash container rental and cardboard pickups are also free in Hailey). Next they ordered free recycling bins to keep on-site for disposal of plastic bottles and aluminum cans from crew lunches. Finally, they took any clean lumber waste to Ohio Gulch on their way home from the site. Recycling just those four materials significantly reduced the amount of waste the contractors had to take to the dump. 1% cardboard 42% inert materials (concrete other wood etc.) 42% landfill waste 11% clean wood 4% metal 0% commodities (plastic, glass, tin/aluminum, paper) Luke’s Pharmacy project construction waste diversion and recycling breakdown (by weight):
This is the final year of the grant, and the city is hoping to work with five more area contractors to further define and simplify the recycling and diversion of construction waste. The success of the program has prompted the city of Hailey to require recycling bins at all building sites in its proposed green building code, which is on track to go into effect in May. “Without tracking and quantifying the disposal information, we would never have guessed we would see such great results,” said Mariel Platt, the city’s sustainability coordinator. “The data and feedback we received from participants have proven beneficial in other areas as well. It has helped the city make more informed waste management decisions, both with the city’s rubbish and recycling franchise agreement with Clear Creek Disposal and with the proposed Build Better Program.” For more on the Build Better Program, Hailey’s proposed green building code, visit http://haileycityhall. org/building/bbp.asp. habitat 2013 • sun valley guide
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Laura Sluder displays the cheeses from her southern Idaho farm.
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or Laura Sluder, the cream of her cheese-making operation at Blue Sage Farm near Shoshone is the slow, quiet pace of farming with Belgian draft horses. “I like the sustainability of it. It doesn’t take any diesel fuel,” she said from her farm, tucked in the fragrant sagebrush of southern Idaho’s high desert country. Eight Belgian draft horses work the 80 acres of the farm, helping Sluder bring a variety of handmade sheep and goat cheeses to market. From Borrego, a sheep cheese, Del Verde feta and Teton Basque to a wide variety of goat cheeses, including natural, cracked peppercorn, dill, and lavender-fennel, the fruits of Sluder’s labors are a small slice of heaven for cheese connoisseurs. After growing up on a cattle ranch in southeastern Wyoming, Sluder chose to work with sheep and goats over the cows of her childhood. The farm runs some 45 ewes and 20 goats that feast on legumes and waving pasture grasses. In the cycle of an annual farming season, Sluder sells the wool from her sheep to a commercial mill, and lamb is butchered to order through the winter holidays. Lambing in November is followed by the cheese-making season. “I make cheese through the middle of April,” she said. “Then, I start farm work–field prep, discing, planting. I plant a variety of things—annuals for grazing, oats for later harvest.” Farmers’ markets, irrigation and cultivation keep Sluder busy all summer. “I do some haying, and there’s the fall grain harvest,” she said. After separating grain from straw using a horse-drawn threshing machine called a binder, Sluder uses a stationary horse-powered baler to make small rectangular bales. “It’s Lincoln County’s first baler,” she said proudly. “My husband’s great uncle remembers running it when he was 15. He’s 91 now. It’s actually a family heirloom.” Stacking hand-tied bales signals the end of the outdoor season and a return to the dairy parlor. Sluder’s initial training in making cheese came from three years at Vallard’s Dairy in Gooding. Today, making cheese is not just a job for Sluder, it’s a lifestyle. One frozen winter day she had a baby lamb in the house that had gotten cold. “It was camped out in front of the wood stove,” she said. Soon enough, however, the sheep shearer will be back on Sluder’s farm, bringing another kind of relief to the little lamb as it joins the other lambs and kids for the new grazing season while Sluder heads to market. sVg Blue Sage Farm’s cheese can be found locally through Idaho’s Bounty, Wood River Farmers’ Markets and at Nourishme and Main St. Market in Ketchum. habitat 2013 • sun valley guide
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Published on May 21, 2013