A Green Bed & Breakfast in NYC

A Green Bed & Breakfast in NYC

Since October 2007,we have been using solar power at Sugar Hill Harlem Inn. This process took us about a year and a half to complete. In January of 2006,we started,to investigate the possibilities,of installing photovoltaics on the roof of our house. After searching for a contractor I found one right here in Harlem. After taking measurements on my roof to make sure I have enough sunlight,we moved forward with the next step,which was applying to NYSERDA, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

They provide cash incentives for the installation of new solar electric or photovoltaic systems by eligible installers. The paperwork took 18 months and the installation took about 2 weeks. The contractor did a fantastic job it was a great success and we are very proud of our solar panels that will still be generating power long after I move on into the next dimension.

The food that we serve at Sugar Hill is organic. No human growth hormones in our milk,no factory farm eggs. Our coffee and tea is fair trade. We have a delicious multi grain bread from a very well known gourmet food store on the Upper West Side called Zabars

There is a garden that is mostly composed of trash. Old wood beams and red brick from nearby construction sites that have debris left over from demolished buildings. In order to create a garden,we brought in soil and some old tree trunks and bark, moss and plants that were taken from the woods in an area south of Woodstock in the Catskills. We have built a wall from tree bark that was striped from fallen trees and we are growing wild Virginia creeper on it.

All the food waste is put on our compost which is mixed with leaves. Almost any organic material is suitable for a compost pile. The pile needs a proper ratio of carbon-rich materials, or “browns,” and nitrogen-rich materials, or “greens.” Among the brown materials are dried leaves, straw, and wood chips. Nitrogen materials are fresh or green, such as grass clippings and kitchen scraps.

Two years ago I did a course on bio-sustainable agriculture in Costa Rica. My teacher was a man called John Jeavons. Unfortunately my garden is too tiny to grow much food but I learned a great deal about seeds and composting and I bought some heirloom seeds from him. Every year I grow cayenne prized for thousands of years for its healing power.

As well as having worms in the garden we also have another type of worm that is kept in a container in the kitchen. This type of worm is called a red wriggler we feed these little critters scraps of food and the worms produce a very rich soil from their castings. Earthworms eat organic matter such as table scraps, yard and garden waste, leaves, grasses and manure. In its place, earthworms deposit a water-soluble, ready to use casting 5 to 11 times richer in nitrogen, phosphates, calcium and magnesium than the organic matter they consumed.

To clean our rooms,we use Mountain Green. This is a non toxic,green cleaner,that is used to clean the bathrooms kitchens, floors,and other surfaces. We also use Mountain Green,laundry detergent. These cleaners are never tested on animals.

We have done some research on grey water systems but we have found that automated systems for flushing toilets with grey water are complex and expensive. Flushing with untreated grey water will result in fouling of the tank and fetid anaerobic smells. Treatment is expensive. Extreme economic unfeasibility can indicate extreme ecological unfeasibility; the earth would be way better off if I just waste the water than if I wasted all the plumbing, pumps, tanks, filters, and electricity needed to make this sort of system work.