Star Island’s Gardens Grow

September 13th, 2014


Celia Thaxter’s Appledore garden is probably the most well known of the plots out at the Isles of Shoals, but Star Island’s gardens are growing strong while supplementing staff and guest meals throughout the summer.

This year, the gardens were tended to by sustainability intern Elspeth Pennell as well as numerous volunteers who helped from a few hours to several days. There are three gardens on Star. The largest, called the Pel Garden, started over five years ago as a small plot tended to by Pelicans — our summer staff — during their off time. This garden has grown over the years and includes two levels and a small greenhouse. Vegetables like summer squash, zucchini, and kale were grown in this garden over the summer. A small garden behind the Founders motel unit started as a potato patch in 2013, and grew kale and other leafy greens this summer. The flower cutting garden behind the Elliot Memorial Building (EMB), where our winter caretaker lives during the off-season, continues to be a flower garden with the addition of vegetables this year.

The goal of the gardens is to reduce our need on mainland food as part of a substantial sustainability effort.

By September 1, 2014, the gardens have produced a total of 910 pounds of produce. Here are some of the numbers from within that haul:

  • 44.5 lbs of Lettuce and Salad Greens
  • 54.5 lbs of Kale
  • 156 lbs of Chard
  • 167 lbs of Zucchini and Summer Squash
  • 55 lbs of Green Beans
  • 42 lbs of Tomatoes

If you have ever participated in a CSA, you’ll know that sometimes you receive a lot of one vegetable at once. In a similar sense, we end up with a lot of certain items at once. For example, a plethora of zucchinis have led us to utilize the vegetable for interesting treats like zucchini muffins. Here’s the recipe our island bakery follows for these muffins (to feed approximately 300 people):


  • 45 beaten eggs
  • 26 1/4 cups vegetable oil
  • 26 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 30 cups grated zucchini
  • 9 3/4 tablespoons vanilla
  • 45 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon
  • 3/4 tablespoon nutmeg
  • 4.5 tablespoons baking soda
  • 4/5 tablespoons baking powder

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the eggs, oil, sugar, zucchini, and vanilla in a gigantic mixing bowl. In a separate gigantic bowl, mix the remaining ingredients (plus chocolate chips, if you prefer). Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in three parts, and mix until combined. Pour the batter 3/4 of the way up into prepared muffin tins. Bake for 20-25 minutes.


Starting in 2013, a flock of chickens was added to Star’s sustainability causes. These chickens are fed leftover bread and vegetables from staff and guest meals. The chickens are instrumental in reducing the amount of compost shipped off island. In 2014, the chickens have eaten 2,349 pounds of leftover food. The chickens, destined for an end of season staff bbq, will produce about 300 pounds of meat.

Star Island’s Sustainable Summer

September 13th, 2014


Summer 2014 has seen many developments towards a more sustainable Star Island. From simple changes to major overhauls, this has been a year of greening.

From the start of the summer, Star Island has been operating with a number of habits already in place. For example, we rely on rain collection for a portion of our water. New endeavors include encouraging guests and staff to bring beverages in aluminum cans to help with recycling costs.

Star Island’s largest improvement in green initiatives is the installation of a solar array. This solar power system will provide approximately 60% of the island’s energy needs in 2015. The installation area has been cleared for future construction happening later this month and into October. Meanwhile, the former generator room in the Power House has been completely overhauled for battery storage.

Upgrades on Star Island also include installing dual-purpose equipment, or equipment with multiple benefits. For example, excess heat from generators is captured to heat water. Some of this water makes its way to the dish washing machine. Installed earlier this spring, the dish machine uses 1/3 less water than the previous machine. This reduction in water supports our sustainability in more ways than one as 1/3 less water used means 1/3 less water needed to be heated, and 1/3 less water going to the waste treatment facility.

If you were on Star this summer, you hopefully noticed our re-designed recylcing stations. We moved to single stream recylcing to ensure easier disposal. And, if you visited the Snack Bar this summer, any paper good or utensil you received was compostable.

In 2015, we look forward to continuing with our sustainability initiatives. And, we look forward to your help in these efforts as you return to the island or support or endeavors through donations or volunteering.

Attention Green Thumbs

August 27th, 2014

Garden 2

Star Island is looking for volunteers for our end-of-season in the gardens!

Located an hour’s boat ride from the mainland, Star Island has several gardens that could use your help as we harvest and maintain the gardens before the close of September. Volunteer tasks include routine maintenance, planting and crop rotation, irrigation lay-out and repair, weeding, harvesting, cultivating, and processing (washing and weighing). Volunteers will be provided boat transportation to the island, and room and board in turn for working 7 hours/day.

Volunteers are encouraged to come for an overnight, several days, or a week.

If you’re interested, please email Elspeth Pennell at email hidden; JavaScript is required.

Gosport Regatta Media Guide Released

August 19th, 2014

The 2014 Gosport Regatta Media Guide was recently released throughout the Seacoast region. The guide provides information about the 2014 Gosport Regatta, including ticket prices.

View the 2014 Gosport Regatta Media Guide

Inside the media guide you’ll find stories about Star Island’s sustainability initiatives, plans for the purchase of a tender to ferry between boats in Gosport Harbor to Star Island, background information about the Piscataqua Sailing Association (the Gosprot Regatta’s co-organizer), the menu for the Regatta weekend, pictures of 2013 Gosport Regatta winners, and more.

The Gosport Regatta is an historical race with ties to the famed racing vessel America. As Star Island and the Piscataqua Sailing Association continue this historic race, we also invite people to reflect on other Isles of Shoals history including the 400th Anniversary of Capt. John Smith’s mapping of New England. Read about Smith’s fascinating tale in the Media Guide.

Click here to learn more about the Gosport Regatta, including an overnight option.

Giving Matters to Star Island

August 17th, 2014

Giving Matters to Star Island, one of the Isles of Shoals located about an hour’s boat ride from Portsmouth, NH. People give to Star Island in so many ways, which helps support our mission of maintaing Star Island as a center for religious, education, and kindred purposes consistent with the principles of the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ.

Listen to Star Island’s story on New Hampshire Public Radio’s Giving Matters segment from Saturday, August 16 by clicking here.

Star Island thanks Former Board President Brad Greeley for sharing his story with NHPR’s Giving Matters.

Click here to listen

Star Island’s September Midweeks Provide Relaxing Opportunity

August 13th, 2014

Couples Retreat Profile

As early September navigates the transition between summer and autumn, Star Island plays host to mid-week gatherings with an unstructured design.

Register for Midweek 1 – Sept. 9/1-5

Register for Midweek 2 – Sept. 9/8-12

Geared towards a grown-up crowd with a penchant for relaxing, or simply needing a break from the bustle of mainland life, Midweek 1 and Midweek 2 provide just that. Rocking chairs on the front porch beckon an early riser to sit down and sip a cup of coffee while looking out over the front lawn. Afer the sun rises, wiggle into a row boat for a voyage around Gosport Harbor. Stop on Smuttynose Island for a short jaunt around the third largest of the Isles of Shoals. Back on Star, gather with others at lunch for a warming meal. Enjoy a conversation with a new friend as community highlights any stay on Star Island. Before dinner, investigate all the nooks on island. From historic graveyards to the Art Barn, Star Island public spaces are open for exploration.

Evening chapel services punctuate the night before guests are lulled to sleep by the sounds of waves lapping against Star Island’s rocky shore.

Register online today for eitehr Midweek 1 or Midweek 2 and find Star Island to be New England’s unique summer island.

Star Island Staff Help Distressed Boat in Gosport Harbor

August 9th, 2014

Four Star Island staff members sprang into action Friday morning when a distress call from a lobstering vessel was heard at 8:45 AM over marine radio.

Waterfront Services Manager Keith Oshel and Deckhand Rich Kunz, approached the distressed vessel aboard one of Star Island’s inflattable boats with a fire extinguisher in hand. After assessing the situation, Oshel boarded the distressed boat, handed over the extinguisher, and stayed on board to provide assistance as needed.

Star Island’s Logistics Manager Tim O’Connor and deckhand Brenda Bladen, approached the distressed vessl in the M/V Perservearance and towed the distressed boat to a mooring.

By approximately 9:15, two US Coast Guard vessels were on scene and took control of the scene.

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Star Island is one of the rocky, wind-swept Isles of Shoals, located off the coast of Rye, New Hampshire. For over 100 years, summers here have provided individuals and families with a welcome respite from their busy mainland lives.

Star Island Corporation is a nonprofit organization which maintains the island and its facilities and provides hospitality services for visitors.

Contact Star Island

Phone: (603) 430-6272
Fax: (603) 430-6270
Island Phone: (603) 601-0832
Staff Email Address List

Star Island Corporation
Morton-Benedict House
30 Middle Street
Portsmouth, NH 03801

Get directions to the office

Content © 1999–2014 Star Island Corporation. Clouds photo © Axel Rouvin.
Other photos © their respective owners.