Renewable Energy and Local Living

Interested in renewable energy, energy conservation, and learning new or old skills to thrive locally? We are! The North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival is committed to strengthening our communities, and this means promoting energy self-reliance and education about how to reduce consumption and waste, use renewable forms of energy, and re-skill our lives to create a better future for everyone.

The  area at the north end of the festival site has been named the Portal to the Future,  where we bring together important trends that contribute to community-building and local resilience.  Last year the theme was:  The future is born of our imaginations.  Come and conjure up the world, community and even the you of your fondest dreams.

There are presentations that happen each day from 12:00-4:00 in the  “energy tent.” The 2022 presenters covered green energy topics, ideas for building community and living with nature, the healing value of the food you eat, forest conservation, and growing chestnut trees.  At left, Brian of North Quabbin Energy explains “winserts” – home-made window inserts. Conservation is first in the holy trinity of energy consciousness – conservation, efficiency, renewables.

There are also booths in the Portal with new technology, ideas for you to consider, and experts to learn from.

In 2022 Richard Gallo graciously loaned his PV/Battery equipped trailer to supply power for the vendors in the Portal to the Future, the presentations in the RE/LL tent, and whatever else needs it. Designed primarily for off-grid living or construction sites, the solar trailer, made by DC Solar, is an independent portable power supply with 2kW of PV panels and 22.5kWh of available energy in the on-board batteries.  Solar energy is stored in the battery packs. When that power runs out and the sun isn’t shining, the batteries can charge back up with the on-board diesel generator. It also has two LED light poles for all kinds of night-time fun.

Richard has spent the last 8 years working in the renewable energy field, installing and repairing solar farms, installing electric car charging stations and battery back up systems. He is an EV advocate and enjoys letting people drive his electric car. He was on site during the festival to answer questions about his car and the trailer.

Is the global energy crisis getting you down? Have you ever wanted to turn your organic household waste into clean-burning fuel, creating a circular economy? Let’s get together to learn about the practical solution of biogas for creating a closed loop waste and production system!  It is possible to produce our own biogas sustainably at home.  Northeast Biogas Initiative is a community collaboration for biogas education and the development of safe, affordable, easy-to-use small-scale methane biodigesters.  Many folks joined us for cooking demos and biogas discussions twice daily on Saturday and Sunday at 12:30 and 3:30 in our booth in the Portal to the Future.

Mothers Out Front is a non-political 501c3 organization whose mission is to build a movement of people working together to accelerate a just transition away from fossil fuels. The organization places a great emphasis on community-based solutions, climate justice, and building up the leadership capacity of women.  They have been working for the last two years on “The Future of Clean Heat” which is all about hastening a just transition to fossil fuel-free heat. For kids there is an “all electric dollhouse” which is an interactive display piece with physical representations of things like heat pumps, induction stoves, and car chargers.

The LaunchSpace also had a tent in the Portal.  It is a non-profit, member-based community workshop in the Orange Innovation Center, providing tools, equipment, education, and support to people who want to make and repair things, but don’t have space, money, or time to build a shop of their own. It offers an environment to share creative energy, a classroom for personal learning for all ages, and workforce training for re-entry into the job market.  Makers of all ages, including two of the Fest Organizers (Lydia Grey and Laura Pepper) displayed their work (not for sale) in the Portal.

Pioneer Valley Photovoltaics (PV²)  are energy experts who have been part of the festival for many years.  The music on the Main Music Stage is typically powered by a solar electric system that they provide.  In 2019 all of the festival, including the vendors in the Portal to the Future were powered by solar energy and batteries.  Learn what these folks have been doing to continue to support residential and commercial solar installations.


This Chevy Volt powered the Renewable Energy Tent!

Transportation is responsible for much of the past, present, and future greenhouse gas emissions.  Are there alternatives?  Sure there are!  E-Bikes and hybrids and fully electric cars, such as this Chevy Volt, are here to stay as battery technology keeps advancing by leaps and bounds.  Come check out some examples and learn how this car can be used as a generator.