Monthly Archives: October 2014

Let’s Talk Trash!

During the week of October 3rd through October 10th, 2014, Pathfinder Ranch conducted a waste audit.  We collected, sorted, and weighed all of the waste that we produced during that week.  We counted all of the waste going to the landfill as well as waste that was being diverted (i.e. sent to other places).  The diverted waste included food that went to our compost pile and materials that we took to a recycling center.

We did this audit to look at how well we are practicing the three “R’s”: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.  In 2002, Pathfinder did our first waste audit, and found that only 27.6% of the total waste was being diverted to compost or recycling.  Since then, we have been doing more and more to reduce how much waste we produce and increase the percent that we divert from landfills.  This year, our waste audit showed that we have increased the percent of our waste diverted to 46.6%!  This is a fantastic change and we owe a big “Thank You!” to all of our visitors for helping us get to this level.

However, we’re always looking for ways to improve.  We want to reduce the amount of waste going to landfills even more.  Here’s how you can help us:

  • We would love to hear your suggestions of how we can reduce our waste by commenting below, messaging us on Facebook, or filling out an evaluation during your trip.
  • Ask a staff member to help you sort your waste into the appropriate places during your trip.
  • Try to reduce the amount of packaging in your sack lunches for your arrival day by purchasing/making foods and drinks with as little packaging as possible.

So why did we do this?

We wanted to know how big our ecological footprint is.  An ecological footprint is how much of an impact we have on our earth’s ecosystems based on the things we do every day.  For example, how long of showers you take, the types of food that you eat, how you get to school, how often you buy new things, and how much waste you create, all affect the ecosystems around us.   You can take a quiz from Islandwood Outdoor Learning Center, to find out your ecological footprint using this link .  You can also complete your own waste audit at school or in your home to see how much waste is being produced and how you can reduce it.  Look at Willow’s blog from October 2, 2013 to find out how to complete your own waste audit.

See you down the Trail!

Autumn is in Full Swing

September was a big month at Pathfinder Ranch! Fall announced its presence, weather is cooling off (thankfully), the leaves are changing colors, four new naturalists are teaching away, two new chickens (Silkies) have joined our farm flock, and seven schools have already visited. Yes, the new season is in full swing. We also have a new addition to our garden space. Drum roll please… take a look at our High Tunnel! Our maintenance crew toiled away to get this up last month and we are so excited. This will allow us to extend our growing seasons, and give us more workspace for garden classes. Possibilities abound. Will we grow tomatoes? Eggplant? Flowers? Luffa? Keep your eye on our Facebook page for High Tunnel updates.

Our high tunnel is ready for vermicompost, hydroponics, and a new workspace!

Our high tunnel is ready for vermicompost, hydroponics, and a new workspace!

Autumn brings many things, including delicious seasonal produce like squash and pumpkin. Pumpkins are great for carving and pies, not to mention roasting the seeds for yet another yummy snack, but what about the medley of winter squash showing up this time of year? There’s always time to try new things, especially when it comes to trying new seasonal foods. There’s butternut, kombocha, acorn, delecata, spaghetti, and even calabaza squash. The list could continue, and there are more recipes than we could cook up if we spent the whole season in the kitchen, but here’s a simple recipe to get you into the autumn spirit.

Baked Acorn Squash


  • 1 Acorn squash
  • 1 Tbsp Butter
  • 2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Maple Syrup
  • Dash of Salt


1) Preheat your oven to 400°F (205°C).

2) Using a sharp, sturdy knife, carefully cut the acorn squash in half, from stem to tip. (A rubber mallet can help if you have one.) The squash can rock back and forth, so take care as you are cutting it.

Use a sturdy metal spoon to scrape out the seeds and stringy bits inside each squash half, until the inside is smooth.

Take a sharp paring knife and score the insides of the acorn squash halves in a cross-hatch pattern, about a half-inch deep cuts.

Place the squash halves cut side up in a roasting pan. Pour 1/4-inch of water over the bottom of the pan so that the squash doesn’t burn or get dried out in the oven.

3) Rub a half teaspoon of butter into the insides of each half. Sprinkle with a little salt if you are using unsalted butter. Crumble a tablespoon of brown sugar into the center of each half and drizzle with a teaspoon of maple syrup.

4) Bake for about an hour to one hour 15 minutes, until the tops of the squash halves are nicely browned, and the squash flesh is very soft and cooked through. It’s hard to overcook squash, because it just gets better as it caramelizes. But don’t under cook it.

When done, remove them from the oven and let them cool for a bit before serving. Spoon any buttery sugar sauce that has not already been absorbed by the squash over the exposed areas.


Well, that’s all for this installment. See you down the trail,

Pathfinder Ranch Naturalists