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NCPR News Staff: Martha Foley

News and Public Affairs Director
Martha Foley joined the staff of WSLU as morning host in 1981, after a stint at The St. Lawrence Plaindealer. She helped found the news department in 1982, and has seen it grow, and shrink, and grow again. "I especially liked the 'grow again' part," she says, "it means working with really talented reporters, telling more and more stories from around the North Country."

Martha has won state and national awards for her reporting and editing. She has encouraged local news at public radio stations across the country as a member and director of Public Radio News Directors, Inc., an organization of over 100 local newsrooms. As a director of PRNDI for six years, she was responsible for The PRNDI Project, an annual training program for young reporters, and NewsWorks, training for station news departments.

Martha grew up on an Adirondack foothill in northeastern Saratoga County. She lives just south of Canton with her husband, boatbuilder Everett Smith, and her teenaged son, Emmett. Favorite pastimes: sitting, looking, and listening. E-mail

Stories filed by Martha Foley

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Red wigglers raised on coffee grounds and other kitchen scraps. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/13359925@N02/3217409170/">Marc Tyler</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Red wigglers raised on coffee grounds and other kitchen scraps. Photo: Marc Tyler, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Welcome the red wrigglers for indoor composting

Worms? In your kitchen? Eeeew! But wait... Cooperative Extension horticulturist Amy Ivy tells Martha Foley a little bin of red wigglers under your sink (or, in her case, your desk) makes a great project for kids, as well as a supply of compost for houseplants and garden.

True, it's a small-scale operation probably not suited to handling all your vegetable-y food waste, but still, she says it's fun, and NOT smelly.  Go to full article
Ice storm, December 2013. Photo by Mark Kurtz
Ice storm, December 2013. Photo by Mark Kurtz

What to do for ice-covered trees

Trees and shrubs are bent and broken under the weight of the icy mix of rain, sleet and snow that fell over the weekend. So the topic of today's yard and garden conversation is no surprise.

Cooperative Extension's Amy Ivy shares what to do, and what NOT to do for ice covered limbs and branches. First, she says, do no harm: be gentle. It's tempting to try to knock the ice off a tree or branch that's bent low with ice, but Amy says that can do more damage, possibly even break the branch altogether. Her advice is to prop up a limb if you want to try and help.

There's no hurry, she says. Don't risk life and limb to do any yard work, it's OK to wait till the ice is gone and the footing is better for working. Waiting won't make things worse for the tree or shrubs. When you DO decide to prune broken tree limbs, she says, make a clean cut, and it's best take the whole branch.

Finally, she says, she'll be waiting till spring to tackle shrubs that need pruning.  Go to full article
The poster for Luciano Pradal's memoir, reflecting Ottawa's busy Byward Market. Photo by Martha Foley
The poster for Luciano Pradal's memoir, reflecting Ottawa's busy Byward Market. Photo by Martha Foley

Roasting chestnuts warm the heart and hand

It's bitter cold this morning. And so was Friday a bitter day to be out on the streets of Ottawa.

But tucked in a doorway just next to a popular downtown Italian grocery was a little island of heat: a cheery guy with a big kettle-like grill, roasting chestnuts. After roasting, he packs a soup can-full of chestnuts into a paper bag and tucks them, hot, into your pocket. He's our Heard Up North.  Go to full article
Two kinds of bird feeders, with shelter. Photo by Hank Hoffman, who lives in Ottawa. He says Phoenix the cat is is indoors-only and enjoys watching them both. And don't get him started on the squirrels.
Two kinds of bird feeders, with shelter. Photo by Hank Hoffman, who lives in Ottawa. He says Phoenix the cat is is indoors-only and enjoys watching them both. And don't get him started on the squirrels.

Feeding the birds, for them and for you

The days are short. It's really cold. And now the landscape is snow-covered, all across the North Country.

Ideal conditions for feeding the birds. And there are lots of choices to make, about what to feed and how. Cheap, giant bags of mixed seeds? Not great. Ditto, stal donuts.

Amy Ivy shares best practices with Martha Foley in their weekly conversation.  Go to full article
Christmas tree farm. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/39792195@N00/3114276220/">Melissa</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Christmas tree farm. Photo: Melissa, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Yes, you can enjoy a Christmas tree, guilt-free

Just in case you're feeling guilty about cutting a tree for Christmas, or buying a cut tree, or if you just feel bad when you see all those formerly live trees, Amy Ivy says, don't worry.

Amy is horticulturist with the Cooperative Extension Service. She tells Martha Foley Christmas trees are another valuable regional crop, and a good example of a renewable resource.  Go to full article
Dr. John Rugge, founder od the Hudson Headwaters Health Network, is a vice co-chair of the North Country Health Systems Redesign Commission. Photo: Brian Mann
Dr. John Rugge, founder od the Hudson Headwaters Health Network, is a vice co-chair of the North Country Health Systems Redesign Commission. Photo: Brian Mann

Full work-up ordered for North Country health care

The interlocking puzzle of the health care system across the North Country will get a thorough going-over in the next three months or so.

The North Country Health Systems Redesign Commission, announced this week by state Health Commissioner Dr. Nariv Shah, has a big job: improve preventive, medical, behavioral and long-term care from Glens Falls to Plattsburgh to Watertown.  Go to full article
Time lapse of Comet ISON's slingshot around the sun (white circle) on Thanksgiving Day. After the close encounter, not much was left. Photo: <a href="http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Soho_c3_timelapse.jpg">NASA</a>
Time lapse of Comet ISON's slingshot around the sun (white circle) on Thanksgiving Day. After the close encounter, not much was left. Photo: NASA

In the night sky as winter approaches

Astronomy Aileen O'Donoghue talks with Martha Foley about the late fall sky.

Comet ISON's anticipated big display fizzled after a too-close encounter with the sun.

The winter solstice (and the longest night of the year will occur on December 21. You can uncork your solstice party at 12:11 pm. But the earliest sunset of the year will be on December 9 at 4:20 pm.

Jupiter will be the brightest thing in the eastern sky after sunset. It will be crossing the constellation Gemini, and then will recross it in retrograde motion early in the winter.

Look for Venus in the southwest just after sunset near the moon until December 20. It will reappear in the morning sky starting in January.  Go to full article
Winterberry and white cedar make a quick, and long-lasting, winter bouquet. Photo by Martha Foley
Winterberry and white cedar make a quick, and long-lasting, winter bouquet. Photo by Martha Foley

Native reds and greens for the holidays

After Thanksgiving...and time to look ahead to the next big holiday. It's been a great year for fruit, including the fruit of our native holly. Winterberry comes into its own about now, and it's a great addition to indoor decor.

Martha Foley and Amy Ivy talk about where to look in your backyard and beyond for winterberry and lots of other wreath and bouquet materials.  Go to full article
Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/dichohecho/4254593017/">Sarah</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Photo: Sarah, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Do trees and shrubs suffer from the cold and wind?

A winter storm watch is posted for this week, on top of a windy, cold few days. Storm windows and extra layers help us humans, but what about our trees and shrubs?

Do they get a sudden shock when a cold snap hits in November? Maybe. Amy Ivy talks with Martha Foley about the effects of cold and wind on trees and shrubs, and has tips on what to do to help them stand the bitter weather better.  Go to full article
Don't forget to water your fall plantings. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/horrigans/4714481169/">Sarah Horrigan</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Don't forget to water your fall plantings. Photo: Sarah Horrigan, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Odds and ends in the garden

Most of us backyard gardeners have probably turned our energy to annual jobs like putting up storm windows and bringing in firewood. But there are still odds and ends of chores that could fill the chinks in between those crucial pre-winter chores.

In their weekly conversation, Cooperative Extension's Amy Ivy and NCPR's Martha Foley run through a quick list. Most are not must-dos...except one: watering this past season's new plantings.  Go to full article

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