May Monthly Challenge

Doing the decomposition dance

How the heck does composting fit in with Creation Care? Well, in lots of ways, when you stop to think about it. When you help yard and uncooked kitchen wastes decompose:

  • You’re creating “black gold,” which will add nutrients to the soil and encourage earthworms and other beneficial little critters to grow and prosper.
  • You’re reducing the amount of material you send to the landfill. (Ever visit the one in Buncombe County? It’s huge, and ever growing.)
  • You’re creatively reusing materials like leaves and plant trimmings.
  • You’re improving the soil’s fertility and its ability to absorb and hold moisture.
  • You’ll cut down on and perhaps eliminate the use of chemical fertilizers, regarded by organic gardeners as temporary fixes.

Yes, we compost advocates get tickled when we see teabags and coffee grounds and grapefruit hulls and grass clippings and leaves all heaped up, doing the decomposition dance. We know that we’re just encouraging and speeding the natural (God-given) process of decomposition, and reaping richer, easier-to-till soil as a result. 

If There’s Only One Thing You Can Do

One small way of responding to the challenge in our own backyards is by composting — by piling up, moistening, and mixing appropriate yard and kitchen wastes so that they decompose and create “black gold.”

Take Small Steps

There are many roads to composting success. One route is to start with a big pile, roughly 4 feet high, wide and deep, containing a 50-50 mix of materials high in carbon (e.g., brown leaves) and high in nitrogen (say, grass clippings and uncooked kitchen wastes). Don’t put anything poisonous in the pile. Chop the materials into smaller bits to speed decomposition. Keep the pile moist as a wrung-out sponge. After two weeks, turn it top to bottom. After that, keep it moist, and turn it every week or so. In a month or two, you’ll get finished compost.

You’ll find plenty of how-to resources in the public library and on line, in books, and in handouts from the Cooperative Extension Service. Happy composting!

Inner Simplicity

Until Mark Burnham’s Creation-Care sermon April 21, I had glossed over the image of God as a gardener. But there it is in Genesis 2:8-9, “And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden… Out of the ground the LORD God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food…” The writer of Genesis didn’t detail God’s gardening methods, but surely they include caring for the soil, to make it fertile and productive. A Divine example, even a challenge, perhaps?

Outer Simplicity

For inspiration, read Psalm 65:  “…the valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy.” Then reflect on how perfectly sustainable God created our world: a simple act of composting our food and yard wastes turns them back into the nutrients that they received from the soil. Using chemical fertilizers instead of allowing nature to replenish itself as God intended, harms the earthworms and beneficial micro-organisms in the soil, and has far reaching effects on our world. Production of chemical fertilizers uses petroleum products and creates air, water and ground pollution that harms God’s creatures- including humans.


Coal-Ash Contamination

NC Conservation Issues Near and Far
Coal-ash Contamination and the Progress Energy Plant in Skyland
10 AM, Friday, May 10, 2013
Tuton Hall, Trinity Episcopal Church

Free and Open to the Public

Presented by The French Broad River Garden Club Foundation

Two attorneys from the Southern Environmental Law Center will be discussing conservation issues facing Western North Carolina and the state on May 10, 2013 at a free and public meeting in downtown Asheville. Mary Maclean Asbill, senior attorney with the SELC’s Chapel Hill office, and DJ Gerken, managing attorney for the Asheville office, will present a wide range of topics facing North Carolinians.

Among the issues facing Western North Carolina: the proposed logging project in Pisgah National Forest, the over-development of land near our trout streams, and the hot topic of coal-ash contamination produced by the local Progress (soon to be Duke) Energy Plant just south of Asheville.

According to the SELC website, coal ash pools near Asheville are leaking thousands of gallons of waste water into creeks feeding the French Broad River, bypassing the on-site treatment system. Containing arsenic, mercury, thallium, selenium, and other contaminants, the waste poses a cancer risk 900 times above acceptable levels, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. According to the SELC site, the organization is “…using its law and policy skills to force our region’s utilities to clean up their waste sites and to store coal ash in ways that protect water quality and public health.”

A native of Greensboro, NC, Mary Maclean Asbill has practiced environmental law for twenty years, including private practices in both Atlanta and Raleigh, and was the Director of the Turner Environmental Law Clinic at Emory University School of Law from 2003 to 2007. Having worked in the Atlanta office of SELC earlier in her career, she recently re-joined the organization in Chapel Hill.

A native of Asheville, DJ Gerken earned his BA in economics from Davidson College and then pursued a joint law degree and Masters in Urban and Environmental Planning from the University of Virginia. After clerking for a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, DJ practiced as a litigation associate with Shea & Gardner in Washington, DC before moving back to Asheville in 2004 to join the SELC.

The French Broad River Garden Club Foundation was founded in 1927 and has been a member of the Garden Club of America since 1930. Dedicated to environmental and horticultural education, the Foundation awards scholarships annually.
Press contact: Elizabeth Brown at or 777-1830

Creation Care Focus Week

Wednesday, April 17    Just Living Panel

Local leaders ( Chaplain Lynn Michie, Andy Brown & Jenny Vial) will discuss how our lifestyles and behaviors affect others on a local and global scale. How we live and the daily decisions we make have effects that reach much farther than our schedules and waistlines.  Listen to what those who work with  underprivileged populations have to say about the impacts, challenge yourself to make changes that will improve living and working conditions for all.  LOCAL Foods Menu: Grilled country ribs, baked beans, coleslaw

Saturday, April 20  Church Street Clean Up!  Join us at 10:00am for our inaugural bi– monthly clean up of our adopted street.

Sunday, April 21  Creation Care Focus

  • 8:45 & 10:55am: Both services will be centered around Creation Care with prayers and music selected to honor God’s creation.
  • 2:00pm: Wildflower Walk  FPC’s premier naturalists, Marily Kolton and Lou Dwarshuis, will lead us so we can better appreciate the intricacies of God’s creation. Meet in front of the gift shop at the Botanical Gardens.
  • 7:00pm: Care of Creation Candlelight Vigil

People of faith from across WNC will gather for the Care of Creation Candlelight Vigil on Earth Day Sunday, until 8 pm at Pritchard Park. Please join this interfaith gathering to celebrate God’s gift of creation, grieve for the damage we are causing, and resolve to bring our hope and faith into action. The program will include music and reflections from local faith leaders:

Rev. Mark Burnham, First Presbyterian Asheville
Rev. Howard Hanger, Jubilee!
Rev. Joyce Hollyday, Circle of Mercy
Chaplain Lynn Mitchie, Swannanoa Correctional Facility
Rev. Todd Donatelli, All Souls Episcopal Cathedral
Lauren Rosenfeld, Religious Education Director Temple Beth Ha Tephila  & Lael Gray, Jewish Community CenterAbbey Ende, local 9 yr old rockstar -“I have a dream” reflection

The Care of Creation Candlelight Vigil is sponsored by Western North Carolina Green Congregations in unity with the Climate Convergence in our state’s capitol, April 20-21. Please consider biking, carpooling, or taking public transportation to the Candlelight Vigil.



April Monthly Challenge: VOLUNTARY GAS TAX

We know now that burning carbon fuels is largely responsible for global warming and that cars create a significant percentage of the CO2. The Voluntary Gas Tax is an excellent way for us to raise our awareness of the tremendous burdens we place on the planet through our excessive use of fossil fuels.  Let’s strive for simplicity in our lives and honor our God-given responsibilities as stewards of Creation!  Think what a difference we can make by being more intentional about our gas purchases not just for our cars, but also lawn equipment.


1. SAVE your receipts every time you purchase gas.

2. DECIDE how much you are willing to “tax yourself” per gallon for the sake of the planet. This can be any amount— as little as a few pennies per gallon up to any amount you are inclined.

3. MAKE YOUR CONTRIBUTION Reminders will be in our announcements in May and then quarterly in July, October, & December. Write a check to First Presbyterian earmarked “VGT” and mail or leave in the collection plate.

More information about the VGT Fund and how it will be used is coming next week!

Use the form below to contact Sally Rhoades with questions.