Better Farm Partners with Local Businesses for Children's 'Explorers Passport' Program

A new program put on by local businesses offers Explorers Passports to children living in and visiting the Thousand Islands Region of New York State.

In the Explorers Passport, children have the opportunity to answer trivia questions, have their "passports" stamped by various local businesses in and around Alexandria Bay, and create their own keepsakes to bring home.

Participating businesses throughout the town of Alexandria (including Redwood!) designate themselves with "Explorers Passport Participating Partner" signs on front entranceways. Passports are available at these stops along the trail.

Those visiting Better Farm are invited to visit our farm stand, take a tour of the grounds, hang out with the chickens, and even do some arts 'n' crafts in our studios.

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Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

Annual 'Heart of Winter' Art Show Seeks Submissions

Image from MetaFilter
Macsherry Library seeks art to present at its 11th Annual Heart of Winter Art Show and Chocolate Reception, which will take place Saturday, Feb. 14, in the library's community gallery.

Art in any medium representing aspects of winter in the north country is welcome. There is no fee, and the show will be on display through Feb. 28. Written works, including poems and essays, will also be accepted. There will additionally be a craft table for the creation of Valentine's Day crafts. Chocolatiers are also invited to bring in their delicious creations for a friendly chocolate competition.

The public votes for their favorite artworks, written works and chocolate desserts. Bragging rights are the prize! 

To submit artwork, email sehb@hillwoman.com for a contract and further information. Deadline for admission is Feb 4; all work must be at the library for hanging by Feb. 11. Macsherry Library is located at 112 Walton St., Alexandria Bay NY.
Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

'Empty Bowls' Event at ACS March 4


Alexandria Central School (ACS) in Alexandria Bay is hosting an "Empty Bowls" event to raise money for the school's Backpack Club from 5-7 p.m. Tuesday, March 4.

At Empty Bowls, a $10 donation buys you a ceramic bowl handmade by an ACS student and filled with spaghetti. After dinner, participants may keep their bowls as reminders of all the empty bowls in the world. 

The Backpack Club provides food on the weekends to ACS children whose families cannot otherwise afford it.

Alexandria Central School is located at 34 Bolton Ave. in Alexandria Bay.
Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

11th Annual Heart of Winter Show Seeks Artists

Heart of Winter piece by former Better Farm intern Maylisa Jade
The Heart of Winter Art Show & Chocolate Reception
Macsherry Library
112 Walton Street
Alexandria Bay NY 13640

Macsherry Library on Saturday, Feb. 8, will host the 11th annual Heart of Winter Art Show and Chocolate Reception in the community gallery.

Artists are invited to submit pieces representing the heart of winter. The show will hang from Feb. 8-15 in Macsherry Library's gallery. All artwork must be brought to the library by noon on Feb. 5.

In addition to visual art, writers of original Haiku, short poems, and essays (one page or less) are being accepted for display. For the sake of consistency and readability, all written works will be reprinted and hung with the show. Written works are due at the library by Feb 3.

Artwork may be removed during library hours after Monday, Feb.

There will be a few Peoples Choice Awards for different categories. There will be a decadent assortment of chocolate desserts to sample while enjoying the display.  There will also be a Valentine’s day crafts table for “kids of all ages”. This year will also feature a guitar performance followed by lessons in the meeting room with Gary Waltz. As with most Macsherry Library events, there is no fee to attend.

If you would like to help behind the scenes or need more information, contact Sue-Ryn Burns   at (315) 482-2985 or Cecilia Thompson at (315) 777-3385. Artists interested in submitting work can print out this form to be brought along with pieces to library:
Macsherry Library is located at 112 Walton St., Alexandria Bay, N.Y.
Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

This Weekend in the North Country

Jumpers at last year's Polar Bear Dip
Everyone's getting ready for another action-packed weekend in the North Country...

Crow Point Annual Fishing Derby
From 6 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 23
Crow Point, Butterfield Lake, Redwood NY
$5 Entry Fee
BYOB  
In addition to the annual fishing derby, this year's event will feature "Cheese's Hole" in memory of our dear friend Bob Cheesman. There is a $10 entry fee to fish that hole. Whoever catches the biggest fish out of Cheese's Hole will win a cash prize. A fish fry is also scheduled. Participants are encouraged to bring along any additional food.

Polar Bear Dip
Saturday, Feb. 23
Registration 9 a.m.-12 p.m.
Dipping starts at 1 p.m.
Bonnie Castle Resort, Alexandria Bay, NY
The 23rd annual Polar Bear Dip to benefit River Hospital is likely to bring in more than 200 dippers. Jumpers must be at least 18 years old and raise at least $100. Participants raised more than $55,000 for the hospital last year. The hospital plans to buy ultrasound equipment with the money.
Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

'Heart of Winter' Art Show Seeks Exhibitors

Image from Funeto.
Artists are sought for the 10th Annual Heart of Winter Art Show and Chocolate Reception, slated from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9, at the Macsherry Library in Alexandria Bay.

Artists are invited to submit visual or three-dimensional artwork representing the "heart of winter". Original poems and essays on the topic will also be accepted. Applications are due Jan. 28 (download the application here). All work must be submitted to the library no later than Feb. 4.

Work will hang in the library through Feb. 18.

Admission to the reception Feb. 9 is free. In addition to the art on display, that event will feature chocolate desserts to sample and a Valentine's Day arts and crafts table for children.

For more information, contact Sue-Ryn Burns at (315) 482-2985. Macsherry Library is located at 112 Walton St., Alexandria Bay.
Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

On Location: July 4th Fireworks in Alexandria Bay

From the Alexandria Bay Chamber of Commerce Website:
Wednesday, July 4, 2012 @ dusk (approx. 9:45pm)
The evening air was cool, the sky was clear and bright and the crowds came in anticipation for the annual Alexandria Bay Fireworks over Boldt Castle. Many came early for a leisurely stroll through the Village streets, shopping, eating or just enjoying the company of fellow travelers. None were disappointed.

The fireworks display performed by Pyrotechnico were the courtesy of the Alexandria Bay Chamber of Commerce and the many local businesses, individuals and the Town who donated to the cost of the display.

The magnificent display could be seen for miles away lighting up the sky with multi color facets and reflected off the calm waters of the St. Lawrence. In a tribute to our nation's independence, the sky shone bright with the red, white and blue colors of our flag. For the first-timers to the repeat display watchers, the fireworks display over Boldt Castle was truly a magnificent site.

...And a few shots from the night:




All photos and video by Nicole Caldwell
Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

Getting a Garden Education: Planters obtain free seeds, advice about growing

Nicole M. Caldwell of Better Farm, Redwood, cleans up after a worm compost exhibit Saturday at Garden Day in Alexandria Bay. Photo/Justin Sorensen
By REENA SINGH
WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES STAFF WRITER
ALEXANDRIA  BAY  — Garden  aficionados  walked away with the beginnings of lettuce, peas, squash and other produce for free at the MacSherry Library this weekend.

Saturday was the library’s fourth annual Garden Day, and it drew dozens looking for free seeds,  gardening advice and children’s activities.at Garden Day in Alexandria Bay.

“It’s about  educating the community,” said herbalist and library trustee Sue-Ryn Burns.

Several trustees have gardens of their own and dug up sprouting tomatoes to raise money for the  library. As a testament to the gardener’s fever possessed by some of the trustees, an herb garden sat
in the building’s back.

“We’re trying to encourage people to grow things,” said Steven L. Burns. “We were all getting asked a lot about gardening.”

Representatives from Better Farm LLC, a sustainability education center and artists' retreat facility  in Redwood, demonstrated composting to show how produce that normally lands in the trash could be reused. The business uses produce that would normally be tossed away at local grocery stores such as Big M and The Mustard Seed.

“The end result will be organic compost and organic worm casings, which make an excellent fertilizer,” said Matthew K.  Smith, Better Farm agriculturalist.

After a village tree walk led by Cornell Cooperative Extension horticulture educator Susan J.  Gwise, children hunted in the grass for clothespin fairies dressed in silk flower petals.

Several packets of donated pumpkin seeds were placed on a table to encourage locals to plant the
squash for the library’s annual Harvest Festival in the fall. Every year, there is a contest for the village’s biggest pumpkin.

“We wanted to see what seeds they have so we can start our garden,” said Alexandria Bay resident Cathy A. Dickhaut. She held seeds for squash, beets and white watermelon. “I’ve never had good luck with lettuce,” she said.

[Originally published Monday, May 14, 2012, for the Watertown Daily Times]

Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

Winter Games: River Hospital's 22nd Annual Polar Bear Dip

The not-so-Cowardly Lion and his friend take a flying leap into the frigid waters of the St. Lawrence on Saturday.
Each February for the last 22 years, people from the North Country get together to raise funds for River Hospital in Alexandria Bay, N.Y., by jumping into freezing water amidst near-zero temperatures at the annual Polar Bear Dip.

Though this winter's been frighteningly mild, Saturday was real windy, real cold, and not exactly the sort of day that would make you say You know what? I am dying to get in the river right now.

But despite the 30-degree water, this crowd couldn't be stopped.




Jumper after jumper strolled along the red carpet donning costumes of every style and cheering on their fundraising efforts for River Hospital (Spider Man alone netted more than $10,000 for the cause):







It was hard to get the Wicked Witch in the water, but the crowd and the on-site safety expert/supervisor saw to it that she got wet too:


Big thanks to everyone who jumped, everyone who donated, and everyone who came out to support such a worthy cause. Saturday’s record turnout boasted 49 more jumpers thank last year, and was expected to beat last year’s fundraising total of $55,000. All funds raised this year will go directly toward the upgrade of the radiology department's ultrasound and mammography equipment.

All photos and video by Nicole Caldwell
Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

Macsherry Library Art Show Features Our Work!

We told you last week about Macsherry Library's Ninth Annual Heart of Winter Art Show & Chocolate Festival, the reception for which was held from 1:30 to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Macsherry Library Community Gallery in Alexandria Bay, N.Y.

Among the featured work was my above nighttime photograph, and this piece by our own Maylisa Daniels:

These pieces, as well as all the other paintings, drawings, poems, and three-dimensional pieces, will be on display through Saturday, Feb. 18. Be sure to stop in and take a look—and don't be shy about buying a few pieces to take home with you!

The Saturday afternoon reception was packed—with people, with art, with chocolate, and with younger children working diligently on making their own Valentines Day cards. Here are photos from the event:




We can't wait to team up with Macsherry Library again from 1-5 p.m. May 12 for their Garden Day! That event will offer free seeds, catalogs, information, and master gardeners for guidance—and reps from Better Farm and betterArts working with kids on planting seeds, painting some faces, and bridging the gap between cultivation and creativity in order, literally, to cultivate creativity. Stay tuned for details!


Many thanks to Sue-Ryn Burns for putting this event together! Macsherry Library is located at 112 Walton St. in Alexandria Bay, N.Y.

Deadline to Submit Art for A'Bay Winter Art Show is Tuesday!

The Ninth Annual Heart of Winter Art Show is slated in conjunction with the Ninth Annual Chocolate Reception from 1:30-5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11, at the Macsherry Library Community Gallery in Alexandria Bay, N.Y.

The deadline to submit original art, haiku, and poetry for this event has been extended to Tuesday, Feb. 7. This is a great way to support the local arts and encourage community involvement in free, public art events. All pieces should represent what the “Heart of Winter” means to you. There will be a few Peoples Choice Awards for different categories. And, there will of course be chocolate deserts and Valentine Card making!

The exhibit will hang for one week.

Macsherry Library is located at 112 Walton St. in Alexandria Bay, N.Y. Download the artist participation form here. Please contact Sue-Ryn Burns with any questions at (315) 482-2985.
Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

Blues in the Bay

It's 106 miles to Chicago, we've got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark, and we're wearing sunglasses.

Hit it.

This year's Blues in the Bay Festival, a marathon of great blues in Alexandria Bay from Sept. 2-6, featured more than a dozen bands—as well as a few mysterious characters roaming the streets in Blues Brothers getups.



The five-day festival even included "blues cruises" aboard Uncle Sam Boat Tours, and a Blues Motorcycle Poker Run on Sunday to benefit Jefferson County Hospice.

Stay tuned to Alexandria Bay's main site for information on next year's blues fest, as well as other upcoming events.

Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.

Bill Johnston's Pirate Days

Thousand Islands' most dreaded pirate was the notorious smuggler and War of 1812 privateer Bill Johnston. Dubbed the man the British most wanted to hang, fortunes were blown on the pursuit of Johnston as he was hunted by United States and Canadian authorities.

His most notorious project was the May 30, 1838, attack on the passenger steamer Sir Robert Peel (which was docked at Wellesley Island on the St. Lawrence River). Johnston ordered his men to loot the ship and burn it, which they did while chanting "Remember the Caroline." Johnston eventually surrendered to United States authorities.

So of course it stands to reason that almost 200 years later, we'd create a holiday in honor of this guy.

Hey, it worked for Christopher Columbus.

Bill Johnston's Pirate Days is a 10-day holiday held in Alexandria Bay which features two pirate invasions, two block parties, sword fights, puppet shows, public drunkenness and mayhem, magic shows, parades, and more.

The folks at Better Farm rose to the occasion, donning swords and hooks and pillaging Alexandria Bay. Our own Brian Purwin performed at Top of the Bay, Cavallario's Steak House, and The Dancing Dog; while others stopped in at the invasion, worked behind-the-scenes at local businesses (Corinne at Singer Castle, Chris at Riley's, Joel on Wellesley Island), and danced and boogied while the bay burned.

Quite an epic week! Don't throw that pirate gear away just yet—Bill Johnston's Pirate Days will be back next year around the same time. Keep up on scheduling at VisitAlexBay.org.
Comment

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.