Monday, March 23, 2009

OKC issues first Villager Sun Oven permit

(OKLAHOMA CITY) Feb 15. 2015 -- Bakers rejoiced today as the Oklahoma City Department of Health approved the first Villager Sun Oven permit today for the Belle Isle Bakery in Northwest Oklahoma City.

Villager and Global Sun Ovens

Marcy Heathens, head baker, said "We are so excited to be able to finally order our Villager Sun Oven. The price of electricity has gone through the roof! Without air conditioning, it's very uncomfortable to bake in our indoor ovens in the summer. Now we will be able to bake hundreds of loaves a day just using the energy from the sun. Even with the rolling blackouts we will be able to have bread for our customers."

The owner of Belle Isle bakery first spotted the Villager Sun Oven while visiting a friend in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Tom Funstler says, "I saw this giant silver contraption outside a Mexican restaurant where we were going to eat. I didn't know what it was at first - it looked like a huge satellite dish. The chef showed me how it worked. They were cooking huge batches of rice and beans in it. When they told me how much they saved on electricity, I was sold!"

Mr. Funstler ran into some problems when he applied for a permit to use the Villager Sun Oven at his Oklahoma City bakery. "We didn't know how to account for it," admitted Cramer Jones, the Department of Health head of restaurant inspections. "We weren't sure it was safe".

Mr. Funstler was able to show the DOH that the Villager Sun Oven had been in use across the world for many years, providing sun-cooked meals to orphanages, villages, and bakeries in hundreds of communities. "After that," reports Mr. Funstler, "they were a lot more helpful. Of course, the mayor's new 'Greening OKC' initiative didn't hurt. Anything solar became really in style."

The regular family-sized Global Sun Ovens, which can cook several meals a day, have been popping up across Oklahoma City since the first rolling blackouts began to take effect in late 2012. "We love ours," enthused local housewife Sarah Myers. "It keeps the house cool in summer and doesn't cost anything to run. If electricity prices continue to rise, I'm going to use it every day!"

To see a Sun Oven in action, you can visit the Penn Square Farmer's Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Local retailer John Fishing has a booth at the Farmer's Market with Global Sun Ovens, sun-cooked food, and more information about the Villager Sun Oven, which can cook up to several hundred meals per day. Mr. Fishing reports sales of the Global Sun Oven are increasing at a record pace, with a waiting list of up to two months. Now that the Health Department has approved the first permit, Mr. Fishing is taking orders for The Villager Sun Oven as well.

Monday, February 16, 2009

APC lobbies for increased fuel rations

(OKLAHOMA CITY) April 22, 2013 -- The Association of Prius Cabdrivers today issued a press release calling for increased fuel rations for their members.

"The APC recognizes that gasoline rations are necessary to ensure fuel for the delivery of food, coal, and emergency services, and to support the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Venezuela, and Mexico. However, we encourage the government to support the Prius cabdrivers as valid public transportation just like buses or trains, with associated higher fuel rations," said APC spokeswoman Johnna Emery.

The Prius, when driven at the newly established speed limit of 45 miles per hour, gets 50 or more miles per gallon. The APC claims a "rider per trip" average of 3.15 people, which effectively gives a Prius Cab a gas mileage of 157.5 miles per gallon. Since the auto industry was never resuscitated after the coma of 2009, the gas mileage of the Prius has never been exceeded, except by scooters and motorcycles.

Patrick Dobbs, a regular Prius cab customer, said "I just don't know how I would get anywhere in Oklahoma City without the Prius Cab. Since I'm not an employee of a big corporation, I don't have access to the corpbuses like the Chesapeake Chaser or the Devon Daytripper. And frankly, we all know the state of the Oklahoma City public transport system. The Prius Cab gets me to work when I have to actually be physically present instead of telecommuting."

Local Prius Cabbie Shirley Quick agreed, saying "My patented Prius Pick-Me-Up system lets me find clusters of riders who want to go to the same spot. So it's very efficient. It lets people get places that they wouldn't be able to go on their 10 gallon per month ration. I'm glad I bought a Prius before they all disappeared. Once I got laid off, I had this cabbie job to fall back on."

Oklahoma City's public transportation system has not been able to meet demand since the fuel rations took effect last year. Most people are cobbling together a patchwork of transport solutions, including telecommuting, carpooling, biking, walking, and crowding onto the buses that are available. "We are considering our options," said City Transport Officer Dale Rubin. "Since bond funding for any new projects has dried up since '09, we have not been able to buy any new buses. To do so, we would have to increase the price of bus rides or start using smaller vans and other vehicles."

Other cities in the area have been doing just that, using smaller and easy-to-purchase "Feeder" vans to take riders to central "Express" buses which connect the main city arteries. Although the traffic burden has been greatly reduced by the new optional 3-day flexweek and telecommuting tax incentives, most service, healthcare, and farm workers still need to get to work every day.

Many corporate employees have access to the corpbuses, which are funded and fueled by the larger corporations in order to allow their employees to get to work. Devon, Chesapeake, Hobby Lobby, Sonic, and Love's all run corpbuses from the network of "Park-N-Rides" around the city to their corporate headquarters.

Other lucky commuters live close enough to work to use an E-bike, which have been selling like hotcakes all across the country. The E-bike uses small amounts of electricity to boost power on long trips or up hills, but relies mostly on leg-power. Wendy Heineken, a local nurse, says "Sure, I'd like to have a Prius. But what happens when fuel rations get cut again? The E-bike doesn't need any fuel at all. With the bike basket, I can carry my toddler or groceries and get where I need to go. I feel more secure, and a lot more healthy, now that I have it."

Federal government rations have been cut twice since the initial 25 gallon per month limit for families was set. Only a few exceptions have been granted. The Association for Prius Cabdrivers hopes the government will hear their case. "Fuel rations go a lot farther with a Prius cab than with individual commuters. Using a Prius cab allows people to get rid of the burden and expense of caring for a car, while knowing they are getting the best miles per gallon on the planet."

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Brewers hopping to it

(OKLAHOMA CITY) September 14, 2017 -- The Oklahoma City Brewer's Guild announced the first successful hops harvest from their 16-acre Hopping to It Farm, located on the banks of the Canadian River. The hops flower is a key ingredient in beer brewing, essential for the "bittering" aroma and flavor, and also useful as a preservative.

"This harvest proves that we can compete with the Tulsa Brewer's Guild in supplying high-quality hops to our local micro-breweries and homebrewers," reports Eric Patterson, Chief Brewer of the OKC Guild. "Our local brewers will now have an economical and reliable source of hops, rather than having to pay premium prices for out-of-town hops."

The Hopping to It Farm was first planted two years ago, after a regional hop shortage caused several local breweries to go out of business. Prior to the shortage, members of the OKC Brewer's Guild had relied on the Hoppy Hunting Farm in Tulsa for hops. When the drought caused hop crop failures and reduced yields across the South and Midwest, the Tulsa Guild voted to reserve the premium hops supplies for the Tulsa brewers. Oklahoma City brewers were forced to order in some hops from Virginia and Oregon, which drove up prices due to the shipping costs.

Patterson explains, "Our farm integrates all the state of the art permacultural features expected in a modern hop farm. Trellises were created from locally grown bamboo, irrigation is by swales and rain barrels, and we even use chickens to consume the leftovers from our hop prunings. Along with hops, we will also produce honey, eggs, and eventually pecans. We have an extensive composting and mulching operation, which should help insulate our farm from any future droughts like the one that caused the last shortage."

"I couldn't be prouder," said City Councilwoman Michelle Brown. "The Hopping to It farm employs 25 people and supplies hops to over 500 members of the Brewer's Guild, as well as many amateur homebrewers. This is the kind of enterprise that keeps Oklahoma City producing it's own high-quality local products at reasonable prices, while providing good jobs to our citizens. We need more metro farms like this one."

The Hopping to It Farm is the latest in a series of infill farms in the Oklahoma City metro area. While Oklahoma City's vast acreage made transportation a challenge during the Crisis of '11 and after world oil supplies peaked in 2012, it also provided a rich source of farmland here within the city.

The first micro-farms were simply extensions of the already-existing gardens and fruit trees managed by landowners, but soon expanded when shipments of fresh produce became unreliable. Local government offered incentives to farmers to plant in schoolyards, parks, undeveloped plots, and even roadsides and medians. Consumers rushed to sign up for "shares" in the farms to secure a steady, reliable source of fresh food for their families. By 2015, almost 30% of metro households had signed up for a FEV (Fruit, egg, and veggie) share from a metro micro-farm.

Tulsa's Master Brewer Anya Trimbly commented on the announcement, "The Tulsa Brewer's Guild congratulates our sister city on her accomplishment. While we anticipate that Hoppy Hunting hops will continue to dominate the regional market, we sincerely hope Oklahoma City's Hopping to It farm will have years of successful harvests."

Monday, February 9, 2009

Bob Waldrop elected Mayor of Oklahoma City

(OKLAHOMA CITY) Mar. 7, 2014 -- Bob Waldrop, local social justice activist and founder of the Oklahoma Food Cooperative, was elected mayor of Oklahoma City in a landslide election yesterday evening.

"I am proud my fellow citizens have embraced my platform of 'Local Food, Energy and Economy,'" Mayor-elect Waldrop told Peak Oil Hausfrau today. "It shows that our city is ready to tackle the enormous challenges facing us and take responsibility for our future. When we are willing to work together, we can create great things as a community."

Opponents tried to paint Waldrop as a radical, calling him a "sad old Hobbit hippie," "permaculturist" and "local foodie fanatic." These attacks did not resonate with a population weary of years of recession and the lingering effects of the financial crash of 2009. Local groups banded together in a swell of grassroots support to knock on over 54,000 doors in a massive volunteer campaign.

First on Waldrop's agenda: Restoring granaries within city limits. Mayor-elect Waldrop explained, "This step will provide local food security in the face of another oil shock like the one of 2011. We will have grain and beans on hand to provide a two-week basic minimum diet for our most vulnerable citizens. But I encourage everyone to have three months of their own food storage if at all possible."

The oil crisis of 2011 laid the foundations for Mr. Waldrop's campaign of "Local Food, Energy and Economy". While not entirely unprepared due to the efforts of local group Transition Town OKC, Oklahoma City nonetheless endured great stress due to effects of the oil supply crisis. Without constant deliveries of food, grocery shelves were emptied within three days of the Ras Tanura refinery bombing in Saudi Arabia on June 14, 2011. Highways and roads became deserted and basic city services stopped. Luckily, the crisis lasted only two weeks before the federal government began rationing gasoline and released oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to ensure coal and food deliveries. Still, the economy was at a standstill and without regular paychecks, many people could not even afford to buy the food that was available.

Leading citizens, business and faith leaders from all walks and parties endorsed Waldrop, including many that had opposed Waldrop in the past.

"After the Crisis of '11, the Federation of Churches realized that we needed a city that would prepare for the future of oil depletion, not be stuck in the past of oil dependence. We decided to mobilize and make sure that the city had a plan. Our church was very excited to support Bob's campaign, which had a great, innovative focus on preparedness, resilience, and localization." said John Franks, minister, Faith and Hope Community Church.

Mayor-elect Waldrop will celebrate his election with a "Local Food Extravaganza," and invites all citizens to an open-air potluck festival downtown to be held directly after his inauguration. "We look forward to bringing all our citizens back into the democratic process," he remarked. "My administration will be one of inclusiveness and responsibility, and will offer a new vision for the future - one of energy efficiency, local food and economy, shared transport, and renewable energy. Our hope is that everyone will participate."