Back to Basics 2018 Presenter Focus: Zachary Paige to Talk on the Industrial Hemp Revolution

***If you haven’t had a chance to check out the presenters at this years Back to Basics (the 12th annual sustainability event), I highly recommend you hurry.***

We try to get a wide variety of workshop presenters. We stick with ones that have year after year sold out (I’m looking at you, Abbie!) We also like to make sure that new topics are introduced to bring a fresh feel to the event.

One presenter is looking to start a revolution.


Zachary Paige is looking to start an industrial (hemp) revolution.

Zachary Paige, a first time presenter at this years’ Back to Basics, has a passion for spreading the word of industrial hemp.

Paige insists, “Products such as plastic, high protein food products, building materials – rope, hempcrete, fiberboard, as well as textiles can be made at an affordable price right here in America from a crop that yields well in organic systems.”

Hemp and marijuana are related, but are different strains of the same plant species. Paige explains on the White Earth Natural Resource Department website,

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MORE Ways to Make a Sustainable Holiday

**This is a reblog from Do It Green! Minnesota. Keep up the great work, guys!**

cropped-bird-circle-menuDecember is the time of year when many families gather to share a meal and to celebrate the season.

Whatever our backgrounds or traditions may be, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, America’s household waste increases by more than 25% which includes extra food, shopping bags, packaging, and wrapping paper.

Here are some easy ways to decrease waste this time of year:

  • Give a non-material gift like tickets to a theatre, musical or sporting event.
  • Give a trip to the zoo or to a museum.
  • Spend quality time away from the mall with family and friends.
  • Go sledding, skiing or cross country skiing, host a game night, or volunteer together.
  • Give a membership to the Minnesota Tool Library or the Minneapolis Toy Library.
  • Give the gift of your time, such as help with home improvement or gardening projects.
  • Buy second hand presents. You can find unique treasures at thrift stores and antique stores.
  • Pass on good books you’ve already read.
  • Give a homemade gift like cookies, bread or jam.
  • Consider using alternative gift wrap. Most wrapping paper is not recyclable. Wrap your presents in scarves or cloth, newspaper or brown paper using natural materials as decoration or try Furoshiki (traditional Japanese wrapping technique).
  • Buy used decorations or make your own using natural materials.
  • Use reusable tableware and cloth napkins when you entertain.

You can find more ideas from MPCA’s Make Memories Not Trash, Rethink Recycling’s Rudolph the Green Smart Reindeer, and on our website site.

Top 5 Ways to be Sustainable This Holiday Season

The holiday season is a time of joy, family, friends, warm drinks, lights, and laughter. However it is also a time where there is an increase in waste. Here are five things you can do to diminish your holiday waste:

Use Sustainable Dishware

Instead of using disposable dishes and utensils for your holiday parties and dinners, choose to use reusable dishware. If you don’t have enough you can always borrow from a friend or ask guests to bring some. If you end up having to use disposable dishware, buy some that come from recycled or compostable material. If you plan on using straws, check out reusable straws, you can even consider giving them as stocking stuffers. In addition, make sure your guests know where your recycling bin is so they don’t place their empty bottles and cans in the trash.

Decrease Food Waste


One way to decrease food waste is to eat as many cookies as possible! 

One way to decrease food waste is to avoid overbuying food. Plan ahead and figure outexactly how much food. This will help decrease the amount of food waste you might end up throwing away. Also consider buying your food in bulk to decrease packaging, and don’t forget your reusable grocery bag. If you find yourself with a lot of leftover food, invite some friends ever to help you finish your leftovers.

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Homemade Coupon Book – The True “Shop Local” Gift Idea

Yes, I’m sure you’ve heard of homemade coupon books before or you have been given one of these things before. BUT, they are the quintessential holiday gift. Plus, I find that it means more to receive these. What was the the old adage?

“It’s the thought that counts!” *cue eyeroll*
Homemade coupons ooze thought, though. Also, it gives you a great reason to stay local when shopping.



Homemade Coupons can be for almost ANYTHING!

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What is Whole Health Pine River-Backus?

If you want to help support programs like these, please go to our page on the Give to the Max Day website.

Happy Dancing Turtle and our community partners (UMN SNAP-ed, Pine River-Backus Family Center, St. Joseph Foundation) address a big problem with this modest program, Whole Health Pine River-Backus.


Dave picking strawberries for the CSA shares.

Food insecurity and poor health due to improper nutrition are concerns all across the country.Out of the 87 Minnesota counties, Cass County ranks at 84 for overall health factors and 85 for social and economic factors, according to the 2016 data from The Whole Health PRB program strives to bridge the nutrition gap for low-income or otherwise food insecure families and individuals by providing fresh produce and nutrition education.

Food & Water Security Coordinator at HDT, Jim Chamberlin said, “This program helps make that connection between food and health and makes it more clear that healthy food influences human wellness.”


The HDT Garden Crew had to be meticulously organized keep shares large and on time.

Happy Dancing Turtle provides a weekly CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share full of fresh and healthy produce from our 2 acre holistic demonstration garden. Participants attend SNAP-ed cooking classes to learn how to cook and incorporate the vegetables into meals. Each CSA share also has a newsletter with recipes and detailed information about the vegetables in the bag for those unfamiliar with the produce.

The Pine River Backus Family Center provides a valuable role in connecting with the program participants and helping distribute the CSA shares. Whole Health PRB is still a fairly new program, in it’s second year, however we hope in the coming years to expand our reach and effectiveness by increasing capacity and program option.


Allison R. Whole Health Coordinator

Whole Health Program Coordinator, Allison Rian. said, “I know I’m concerned with what I’m feeding my own kids, what they’re eating daily. But, above all, I think that proper food skills and wanting to use healthy food is all about access.”

Rian continues, “Skill-building is a big part of our program, because our generation is having to relearn some of these basic skills that have been forgotten.”

Currently, we are expanding the program to include a winter program that allows one CSA share a month. There will also be a monthly get-together that will instruct participants on how to properly prepare and serve the produce included in the shares.

What is the Youth Environmental Education Program?

Happy Dancing Turtle has been sharing about sustainable living topics with children for over a decade. Topics vary widely from recycling and water conservation to pollinators and habitat. The ages that HDT serves range from 4-adult. One of our longest running and most popular kids’ programs is Eco Camp. Eco Camp is a week-long day camp that includes environmental topics, recycled crafts, exploration, and field trips. 

If you want to help support programs like these, please go to our page on the Give to the Max Day website.


Field trips to the school forest and other outdoor locations offer kids to experience nature in Minnesota.

In 2015, HDT started in-school science education at local schools. These science lessons are aligned with learning standards and periodically supplement the science education in 1st and 2nd grade classrooms. 

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Back to Basics 2018 Seeking Exhibitors & Presenters

We are now accepting Vendor/Exhibitor proposals for our January 2018 event!  Vendor/exhibitors must have their proposal in by Saturday, November 4th to be included in our event promotion. Proposals will be accepted up until the event, as space allows. Note: we typically fill our vendor area well in advance of the event, so submit your proposal early!! For more details, feel free to check out our Vendor/Exhibitor Guidelines. Vendors will need to fill out an ST-19 form, which can be returned to us by email, mail, or at check-in the day of.


We are very lucky to have quality presenters every year. Do you have what it takes?

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Sustainably Back to School – College Edition

While the heat of summer wanes, for many, the thought of school just around the corner hammers our nerves and sense of freedom even more. So, why not make the most of it? Look forward to that new year of classes. Now add to that a hint of green thinking, and it might just be the best school year ever!

Let’s focus our sustainable minds on the products college students need. To make sure life in the dorms is as comfortable and efficient as possible, there are a few key areas to address: technology, clothing and school supplies.


Unlike the school days on campus that your parents reminiscent over (perhaps way too frequently for your taste), today’s supplies include some high-tech gear. While laptop computers, cell phones and tablets are energy sinks, they do offer some sustainable benefits. Most notably, these products are eco-friendly in that their existence makes other products unnecessary.


Working at a desktop can be less expensive. You definitely lose the mobility, though.

One can take an endless amount of notes in class, thus limiting the necessity for notebooks. The fewer notebooks used, the fewer trees cut down. And, if you want to take it one step further, read how to find the most energy-efficient laptops.

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3R’s for Sustainable Clothes Shopping

With the start of school comes (another unsuccessful) football season, new (successful) teachers and a(n overwhelmingly long) back-to-school shopping list. Before darting out to the store to pick up new clothing and supplies, take a moment to revisit the 3Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle.


Just like you do with your garbage, you can utilize the 3 R’s for your school clothing.

Because you’ve taken to heart the rules of our 3R’s video, you already use the 3Rs on a daily basis. Decisions about back-to-school clothing provide the perfect opportunity to put the 3Rs to work and step up the sustainability in your household!

• Reduce – Rummage through your kids’ closets and see what you have on hand. The greenest back-to-school clothes are the ones you already have! Make a list of items you already own and only purchase what’s needed.

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