Joanne Coons ’73
In a Clifton Park, N.Y. neighborhood dominated by new housing
developments is an elegant 1830 Greek Revival known locally as the
Abraham Moe Farm. Catalogued by the town as an historic property, it
had been vacant for a decade when Paul and Joanne Coons came to the
rescue. “We had three goals when we began this project: save a historic
structure, use green building practices, and have an energy net-zero
home,” Joanne explained. They succeeded on all counts. A geothermal
energy system provides all heating and air conditioning for the 2,134-sq.-
ft. house. Renewable energy is generated by an 8.4 kW photovoltaic and
solar hot water system. The home is so energy efficient, the Coons’ sell
surplus power back to the local utility (they still pay a monthly power
bill: a customer-service charge of $16.54). Paul estimates the return on
investment in the form of energy savings is about 17–20% per year, which,
he points out, significantly outperforms the stock market. A retired
environmental studies teacher, Joanne meticulously researched solutions
for eco-friendly products in the restoration process. She even found a
natural interior wood finishing made from recycled whey proteins. The
home received Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED)
“Platinum” and National Association of Home Builders NGBS “Emerald,”
the highest designation for each green rating system.
Kris Jacoby-Stevenson ’03
For Michigander Kris Jacoby-Stevenson ’03, an environmental studies
major with an agroecology focus, her path to Green Mountain College
began with a hike. In 2000, Kris hiked from the Delaware Gap to
Gorham, N.H. on the Appalachian Trail, and fell in love with the beauty
of Vermont. “I was going to college in Michigan, but ended up looking
at schools in Vermont to transfer to, and ended up coming to GMC my
junior year,” she explains. Today, Kris is a mom of four and co-owner of
Old Gates Farm, a 13-acre family farm in Castleton with her husband
Adam. “I definitely never really thought that much about farming until
I was in professor Philip Ackerman-Leist’s Intro to Organic Agriculture
class, and we got to see a lot of different farms in different sizes all across
Vermont. That really inspired me,” she says. Kris has always had an interest
in homesteading. After graduating in 2003, she started caretaking at
what is now Old Gates Farm through the University of Vermont’s Landlink
program. What started as a small homestead with a single milking cow
and some chickens transitioned into a market farm, selling grass-fed beef,
vegetables, maple syrup and pastured pork. When they are not working
to expand their sustainable farming operations, Kris and Adam contribute
their ideas and elbow grease to support local agriculture. They helped
establish Poultney’s Stone Valley Community Market and organizied the
Poultney Farmers’ Market.
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