Editor’s Notebook

Editor’s Notebook: March 2018

By Greta Belanger deJong

From tomatoes in March to train switchers.

Big Pink, the home of CATALYST, has solar panels on the roof. It’s been a bit of a process—specifically due to a 2,000-gallon hand-built concrete hot tub in the way of where a meter must go. It is now, sadly, an ex-hot tub, securely under a deck. It had become prohibitive to heat, anyway, of course, with solar, it might be affordable again, if we can some day legally resuscitate it.


Speaking of warmth: I’ve been eating homegrown tomatoes thanks to my indoor passive solar system (aka big south-facing window), after a summer of no tomatoes. Go figure. The vermicompost from my worm bin contained a lot of grape tomato seeds, which then sprouted in all my fertilized houseplants. Okay, we’re not talking quantity here. But they have been the most delicious tomatoes ever. I’ll try vermicompost on my outdoor tomato plants this season; maybe that’s the secret.

The worm bin has been in the basement all winter, but lately the worms were huddling in balls. If I were a worm, the cold would make me want to cuddle up with my brethren. And, apparently, they felt similarly. The big brown bin now lives in my bathroom—a homely obstacle, but we all have our priorities. They seem to have resumed their normal activity, which is to transform the contents of the compost pail.

In 1976, as a very young writer on the staff of Countryside magazine, I traveled to Maine where I visited the farm of Eliot Coleman. At age 38, though a relative newcomer, Eliot was already making a name for himself in the world of organics. He was neighbor and acolyte to Scott and Helen Nearing, famous for their radical pacifism and seminal back-to-the-land 1954 book, Living the Good Life.

Last month, in Cedar City, Utah, I met Eliot Coleman again. The author of The New Organic Grower (1990), he was keynote at the Utah Farm Conference. A congenial 79, he is honored as an elder of the organic and slow food movements.

I mentioned the Nearings in conversation with him. Once so inspiring, they have been lost to time. He says he is dedicating his next book to them. It’s good for us all to have a sense of our spiritual ancestors.


Speaking of which: CATALYST recently was awarded a $1,500 grant from the Utah Women’s Giving Circle to produce a series of articles called “Women of Wis­dom.” Interviews with these local movers and shakers will be conducted by millennial women learning about the efforts on their behalf by those who came before them. Thanks to all the members of the Women’s Giving Circle who voted for CATALYST and our project!


Did you know that CATALYST is a nonprofit? Founded in 1982, we became a 501(c)(3) just 15 months ago.

Our advertisers are, for the most part, very small businesses, all local, and they are here because they love CATALYST and know we reach people like you, who share similar perspectives. They still form the base of our support. .

But reader contributions are essential for us to keep going. If you value our presence in the community, please contribute via our website, phone call or by mailing a check. All sums are useful. Those contributing $120 or more become members of the Solutions Fund (see p. 28 and 37 for details).


One last word: train switchers. You likely never heard or thought of them. They pollute a lot. They don’t have to. Read about them in Ashley Miller’s “Breathe” column in this issue. Cool.


Greta Belanger deJong is the founder,

editor & publisher of CATALYST.

This article was originally published on February 28, 2018.