Standing Stone Brewing Company

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By in Standing Stone Farm 3

Gearing Up to Dig In with Our New Tractor from New Holland

The Boomer 30 Tractor from New Holland

This month, we’re rolling out a big welcome to the newest addition to our Standing Stone farm family – a Boomer 30 tractor from New Holland. We won a 5-year lease on this beautiful new piece of equipment through an online contest put on by the agriculture and construction gear supplier. Our very own Melza Quinn submitted a video on Standing Stone’s behalf illustrating how we would use the tractor on our farm, and we won!

With our new tractor en route, we’re busy making plans for new and continuing projects on our 265 acre plot of land , including building fences, turning compost, moving chicken housing and building trails. So far, all of the ventures on our new farmland on Eagle Mill Rd. have been accomplished through remarkable human-power from Standing Stone employees. This tractor will enable us to save human time and energy, and permit us to carry out even more visions and plans for our farm, including starting garden beds and irrigating the land.

The winning video highlighted several of our sustainability practices, including energy conservation, livestock farming, and composting, as well as lots of fun footage from the farm, brewery and restaurant. We couldn’t be more proud of the efforts shown by Melza and our crew in creating and submitting this video!

And, of course, we’d like to send a big thank you to New Holland for awarding us this great piece of machinery! We can’t wait to put it to good use.

Keep an eye out for more farming news coming soon – we’ll have animal babies on the way in no time, along with our first rounds of rich compost soil. Plus, who knows what kinds of great projects we’ll find we can achieve with our new tractor in tow.

Our Rooftop Garden: Sustainably Delicious Penthouse Produce

If you follow our blog or the news, you probably know that we’re getting ready to launch our own farming operation right here in Ashland, OR. We’re leasing land from the City and will be able to move in on October 1st. We’re counting the days!

We’re not waiting to start growing our own food, though. We’ve planted a rooftop garden to jump-start our in-house food sourcing, make the most of all of our brewpub’s space and tap into solar power in yet another way.

Though we’re already raising our own egg-producing free-range chickens, buying beef raised in Ashland and purchasing as many local and regional foods as we can get our hands on, we want to do more to get our ingredients closer to home. This maximizes flavor and minimizes environmental footprint – a double win.

Brandon Schilling, server and sustainability coordinator, has taken the lead to grow this effort, helping reduce food miles to mere feet.

Admittedly, it provides just a small part of what we use for our menu, but we believe in doing what we can. Any tiny step in the right direction takes us closer to a more sustainable world.

We started simple, with herbs like basil and mint. If you’ve noticed a new twist on favorites like our special mojitoes and select pizzas, that’s the taste of ultra-fresh, organic ingredients. We repurposed produce containers so they’ll keep delivering sustainable goodness.

As the weather’s become warmer and we’ve fine-tuned our skills, we’ve planted tomatoes, tomatilloes, cucumbers and strawberries. They’re happily thriving in repurposed 5-gallon buckets from ingredients and reused plant pots. We’re starting kale, beets, carrots and other greens for the fall and winter.

Our garden is fed with compost made from our restaurant kitchen scraps and spent grain from our brewery. As we work to localize food production, we’re also seeking to shrink the environmental impact of related inputs.

The next time you visit our restaurant, be sure to ask your server what foods and beverages feature our penthouse produce.

Till then, we hope you enjoy some recent photos and get inspired to start growing a bit of your own fresh food, no matter how much space you have.

To save money and maximize your positive environmental impact, reuse old containers for planters and look for things you can repurpose into plant supports. They’ll last for many seasons to come, keeping good materials our of landfills and saving the resources used to process the many reusable items that get recycled long before their useful life has ended.

Compost yard and kitchen scraps to amend your soil, too. Natural processes like this make expensive, prepared fertilizers, which often contain petroleum byproducts, unnecessary. Plant matter makes up much of what’s in our landfills, too. This wastes valuable materials we need to rebuild our world’s depleted soils and generates a lot of methane one of the most potent greenhouse gasses.

Now that’s really gardening with a green thumb, and the results are delicious for people and planet alike. Dig in!

Getting To Zero Waste

At Standing Stone Brewing Company, we’re passionate about serving great craft beer and food while improving the planet. Our efforts have gained some recognition recently, including placing #2 on the Oregon Business 100 Best Companies to Work For list, and the Ashland Conservation Commission “Conservation Heroes” Award.

While we’re honored by these commendations we’re always determined to do better. So, we set high goals for ourselves, including creating zero waste at our restaurant and brewery – sending nothing to the landfill.

Last year, Brandon Schilling, an SOU graduate and sustainability enthusiast, joined our restaurant family. Brandon does double duty as a server and Sustainability Coordinator and has brought lots of fresh ideas and practices to improve our environmental impact. We asked him to give us a peek into our zero waste journey and provide some tips for others.

1. How does Standing Stone work to achieve zero waste?

Our approach is to reduce our use of materials in the first place, then reuse, compost and recycle what’s left. We offer lots of house made products that involve less packaging, and we store our dry ingredients in reusable and washable glass jars. We feed our chickens with restaurant and brewery byproducts, including spent grain and hops and vegetable scraps. Of course, we recycle, too. As recycling has become the least effective “R,” however, we like to keep every resource that comes in to Standing Stone within our operation until the very end of its lifecycle! Our newest projects are all about completing the resource circle by converting items that are normally trashed into resources.

2. How does Standing Stone reduce materials use?

We save tons of glass every year by selling kegged wine from Wooldridge Creek and Misty Oaks. We buy locally from farmers who use durable packaging and sustainable delivery methods, like Village Farm’s bike delivery! We’ve switched individually packaged items to bulk items, such as tea and honey, and we repurpose our packaging. For instance, we reuse kitchen buckets for waste management bins, and turn produce crates and waxed boxes into garden planters.

3. How do employees learn and get involved?

Employee education includes hands-on exercises and presentations at staff meetings, as well as signage with pictures instead of words to help clear the confusion about what’s recyclable and what’s compostable. We offer Waste Management 101 as part of  new employees’ job training. Sorting reusables, compostables and recycling and understanding waste management is an integrative part of everyone’s jobs, and it’s all of our responsibility to be conscious of our sustainability policies and practices.

4. How can anyone work toward zero waste?

Start with being conscious of reducing the materials you use. Use metal water bottles, reusable grocery bags, cloth towels and napkins, or a handkerchief rather than tissue. Also consider making holiday cards from paper packaging, and saving glass jars and plastic containers for storage. Purchase produce from farmers markets (in reusable bags), choose bulk foods, and compost food scraps in your own back yard. And when you crave a fresh beer, bring in your reusable growler bottle for us to fill!

Thanks Brandon!  Feel free to post a comment with your own questions and ideas – we’re in this together! For more tips, see the No Impact Project and Earth91.org.

By in Sustainability 0

Earth Day – Simple Steps to Honor it Daily

Happy Earth Day – a time to reflect on how we can improve our environmental impact! At Standing Stone, we think it’s important do this every day.

There are lots of ways to right size our environmental footprint, and the earth needs lots of TLC to address problems like pollution, climate change, species extinction, mounting trash, and threats to forests, native ecosystems and biodiversity.

Given all this, we may be left wondering where to start, or whether individual actions matter. We believe that whatever path calls us is the best way to begin, that small steps add up to a big difference, and that sustainability can be a fun, fulfilling, creative challenge.

We thought we’d share simple suggestions based on what we’ve learned in our journey. Many of these save money, enhance health and build local economies as well. We’d love to hear your thoughts too!

Savor sustainability: Choose organic and local foods and beverages to keep synthetic substances out of your body and the earth, and reduce fuel use. Scope out farmers markets, farm stands and local goods, join a Community Supported Agriculture program and grow your own. We buy local and organic food, raise chickens and hope to start our own farm.

Be energy smart: Use compact fluorescent or LED bulbs. Turn off unused lights, appliances and electronics. Make home and business improvements, from weather stripping to windows. Choose green energy or renewable energy credits, or install solar or wind. We’re aiming for net zero energy use, buy “Green Tags” and have solar panels. We love seeing the sun spin our meter! Try these bright ideas.

Don’t guzzle gas: Bike, walk, take public transit, carpool, use high MPG vehicles and don’t idle. Shop locally. We love biking and are honored to be a 2011 BTA Alice Award recipient, recognizing Oregon’s leading bicycle advocates. Get rolling with these tips.

Waste not: ‘Precycle’ to avoid materials that will become trash. Avoid unnecessary and over-packaged items. Share stuff like tools with friends. Buy used, unpackaged and bulk-size goods. Look for reusable, compostable or recyclable packaging. Reuse, sell, trade, give away, compost and recycle everything. We’re striving toward zero waste, and delight in discovering new ways divert materials from our dumpster. Try these ideas.

Be water wise: Drink tap water (not bottled water) – we love it and proudly serve it! Don’t run water needlessly. Aerate faucets and shower heads. Mulch your garden, get drip irrigation and put rain barrels on downspouts. Choose non-toxic, biodegradable products. Drink up these tips .

Enjoy and advocate: Take time for recreation like hiking, biking, running, snow and water sports, gazing at the sky, relaxing in the park, gardening or bird watching. Learn about what interests you and teach others. Volunteer and donate to worthy causes. Contact legislators about issues that mater to you. This all feels great and helps us rejuvenate for the next steps.

What do you do to help the planet? What do you want to do better? What suggestions do you have for us? Post a comment to share your thoughts—we’re in this together!

Happy Earth Day—let’s make it a lifelong celebration and commitment.

Meet Our New SSBC Chickens

Lately around Standing Stone we’re talking a lot about eggs.

Actually, we’ve been talking a lot about chickens, our very own flock.

In late June, Standing Stone purchased 44 chickens from Heritage Meadow Farms in the Applegate Valley. We’ve had a cooperative relationship for years, trading spent grain as feed for chickens in return for eggs for our menu. When we heard that Heritage Meadows was selling their flock, we jumped on the opportunity to keep this cycle going closer to home.

We purchased the chickens, built a coop and leased land for their new home, less than 4 miles from our restaurant. In less than one week, Standing Stone completed all this and set up an in-house egg-producing operation!  We now raise a large enough flock to supply all of our eggs on the menu, offering you healthy, local and truly delicious eggs.

Dave Westerberg, owner of Valley View Farms, was also excited about this opportunity and offered his land as home for the chickens. Valley View is the supplier for all of the beef used at Standing Stone.  Allowing the chickens to co-exist with the cattle was a no-brainer. The two species thrive in a symbiotic relationship, with the chickens and cattle grazing in a rotation across several pastures on the property.

The chickens eat exclusively Standing Stone compost, as well as grass and insects from the land. Their spacious coop features lot of nesting boxes and is a mobile unit that we move around the land to help the pasture rejuvenate and provide fresh grazing space. Our employees deliver fresh feed daily, including the spent grain from our brewing tanks, vegetable scraps, and bread crusts. And, they’re antibiotic and hormone free – we wouldn’t have them any other way.

KTVL featured a story on the coop and how the eggs are used in the restaurant.  Click here to view the video and get up close and personal with flock. You can also check out an article from the Daily Tidings and a video from KTVL for a sneak peek at our next venture in localizing our food – leasing land to raise more chickens and livestock.

p.s. Come check out our window display in the front of the restaurant! Employee, Melza Quinn, spent a day at the farm taking pictures of the cows and chickens so everyone walking by can enjoy their happy faces!

By in Events, Sustainability 0

Earth Day – Get Engaged Today and Every Day

What will you do to celebrate Earth Day today?

Taking positive action is the best way to observe the occasion, and it’s necessary to get all hands on deck to help our planet. There are lots of ways to do this, such as carrying out or helping with a volunteer project, making lifestyle changes, initiating better practices at work, learning, educating others….and more.

Need some ideas? Here’s a few to get you going.

  • Volunteer: There are tons of local and national organizations continually looking for volunteers to help them people events and stations to get the word out better. Google or grab your local yellow pages for groups to assist.
  • Start a compost: Standing Stone composts all pre-consumer food waste. It’s easy, simple, and no – it doesn’t stink when it’s done properly.
  • Refuse and reduce first: Cutting down on unnecessary things is the first step. The critical thinking about how we as consumers affect the upstream is the beginning.  Yes, still recycle – just remember it’s at the end of the equation, not the beginning.
  • Walk, bike, skateboard, inline skate or use a foot powered scooter to get to where you are going. Budget a bit more time and we all benefit – the least of which will be your body.
  • Look at what you eat: Purchase food and beverages responsibly. Ask where the stuffs come from. If the purveyor knows, have confidence. If they do not, ask more questions or shop where they know. Transparency is important.
  • Donate money to causes that are truly making strides towards an improved environment.

This just scratches the surface of what you can do. Every day.

Make Earth Day Every Day – we’ll celebrate with you.