Life Beyond Bigfoot

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Prairie Spruce Commons is committed to reducing our environmental footprint. Part of this commitment includes designing our building to use complementary power sources like solar power, but what does this really mean? Thanks to an information session with Ken Compton, local solar and wind energy expert, we are gaining more of an understanding of our options.

Life Beyond Bigfoot : Solar & Net-Metering

It is our intention to build so we are ready for future installation of solar voltaic panels. The panels have a 25 year life expectancy (production > 80%). We intend to produce power under Saskpower’s net-metering program.

Suncatcher Solar provides the following information about solar power output in Saskatchewan:

The amount of electricity you can produce depends on the size of the solar array and the amount of sunshine you receive in your area. For example, a solar power system with a 4.8 kW array (20 solar panels @ 240 Watts each) will produce an average of about 700 kWh per month in central Saskatchewan, Canada.  You can find out how much electricity you need by looking at your current power bills.

Why we will use complementary power sources:

  • Reducing our cost of living: S ask Power has applied for an annual rate increase of 5% for the next two years.
  • When possible, generating power for sale:  The Sask Power Net Metering Program makes this possible.
  • Reducing our CO2 production and elevating our province’s energy status: Saskatchewan generates almost 75% of our electricity from coal fired electric plants and is currently Canada’s worst polluter per capita.

Haskap Berry Crumble Wins!

Winning Recipe in the Crumble Rumble

Prairie Spruce Crumble Rumble Tasters
Prairie Spruce Crumble Rumble Tasters

Our Creating Community: Let’s Get Ready to Crumble event on Tuesday evening was a resounding hit. Our friends and guests sampled 4 delicious crumbles and the Haskap Berry Crumble created by Laurie Gillies took first place. Laurie credits the win to her mom, Vickie Gillies, “who makes the best crumbles, crisps and cobblers ever”.We’ve posted the winning recipe below.

If you are like many of the taste testers, the Haskap berry may be new to you. While Haskaps are well known in Russia and Japan, they are quite new to Canada. They LOVE our prairie climate. The University of Saskatchewan have bred a hybrid of the Russian and Japanese plants that are very hardy in Saskatchewan.

It only seems appropriate that the Haskap Berry Crumble was the winner. Like cohousing, it is new to Saskatchewan and proving to be healthy, hardy, and delicious. You can go online to Haskap Canada at haskap.ca to find out where you can find them and how to purchase seedlings and grow your own. In Regina, Laurie and Jim carry the berries at Nature’s Best. Laurie’s brother-in-law and sister-in-law grow Haskap on their farm, Heavenly Blue Honeysuckle Orchards near Birch Hills, just south of Prince Albert.

Here is Laurie’s Winning Recipe

Haskap Berry Crumble

 

Prairie Spruce Haskap Berry Crumble Cake

Filling

8 cups of Haskap berries (drained, see below)
1/2 cup sugar
teaspoon of lemon juice
2 TB cornstarch

Topping

1 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon each of cinnamon and ginger
8 TB butter

Baking

Heat oven to 350. Mix up the filling. Adjust ingredients to your taste. Put in a glass or ceramic baking dish. Mix up the topping and crumble it over the filling.Bake about half an hour.

Laurie’s Tips

Haskaps are one of the world’s SuperFruits and this one is super juicy! So drain the Haskap berries before you add them to the recipe. I set them in a strainer over a bowl and weighted it down for a few hours. I took one and a half litres of juice out of my berries before I baked and they still had amazing flavor and nutrition. Drink the juice, or freeze it into ice cubes to add to smoothies, homemade ice cream treats, or your glass of water. Yum!

Save Money on Water, Natural Gas and Electricity…

Save money on water: we’re Grey Water ready.

  • Grey water systems use water from the sinks, dishwasher, showers and baths and pumps it back to use for the toilet and taps outside.
  • Grey water systems can save you up to 30% on your water bill annually.
  • In a world that is slowly running out of water, grey water systems reduce your water consumption by up to 30%, that’s a lot of water saved!

Save money on gas. Geothermal/radiant in-floor heating and cooling has many benefits.

  • It’s cleaner than a forced-air system because you aren’t blowing dust around.
  • Gas boilers usually have to be replaced of need to be fixed in a major way every ten years, radiant in-floor heating can last up to fifty years, needing very little upkeep or maintenance.
  • The payback on the investment of radiant heating for houses and small buildings is said to be between five and seven years. For a condominium even a generous eight to ten years isn’t a bad payoff period when you consider we live in our house for several decades on end.
  • In-floor heating is more efficient because it heats where you are, near the floor.
  • The cost savings over a conventional heating and cooling system annually are approximately 30-60%.

Save money on electricity. Why we believe solar is a brilliant idea.

Don’t forget we’ll be talking about solar photovoltaic power with local expert Ken Compton at Nature’s Best this Wednesday August 20th. Hope you’ll join us there!

Travel and Cohousing

Travel & cohousing… Do the two go together? From where I’m sitting, on this red rock at the shoreline where the Gulf of St. Lawrence kisses the white sand of Prince Edward Island, cohousing and travel are perfectly matched. 

We are here for a two week vacation with family and friends. Others of the Prairie Spruce community are at home in Regina, hosting information sessions, staffing our booth at the Farmers Market (stop by for a visit), getting the word out about this wonderful new adventure that is taking place in Regina. Others are at their cottage at the lake, one household is traveling in Denmark and one household is traveling and Sweden. In cohousing we share in the play and the work, that’s what a community is about. 

An additional bonus of cohousing is the international community. Membership in a cohousing community allows you to visit other cohousing communities across the globe and book the guest space. Check out the locations of a few cohousing communities around the world:

So, where should we book our next trip?

Brenda (& Ruth)