New Year Begins with Swearing in of New EGT Members and Officer Elections

Swearing in new EGT Members
Mayor Bert Steinmann swears in new EGT members Mary Corrigan and Caroline Steward

The Ewing Green Team began the New Year with the swearing in of two new appointees, Mary Corrigan and Caroline Steward at the January monthly meeting.    In addition, an election of officers was held and the following individuals will serve for the 2015 term.

Co-Chair   – Michael Nordquist
Co-Chair – Joanne Mullowney
Secretary – Mary Corrigan
Membership – Dave Byers
Communications – Mark Wetherbee
IT – Joanne Mullowney

February Tree of the Month — Witchhazel

Hamamelis x intermedia  USDA Zones 5-9

witchhazelThe Ewing Environmental Commission has chosen the Witchhazel hybrid, Hamamelis x intermedia to be the February Tree of the Month. Although this small tree – or large shrub – is not a native (the crossing of Japanese Witchhazel, H. japonica, and Chinese Witchhazel, H. mollis), these two species combined produce a beautiful, fragrantly blooming plant that is outstanding in our winter landscape from late January through mid-March, depending on the weather and location.

Hamamelis x Intermedia can easily be mis-identified as a Forsythia from a distance. The flowers can be clear yellow but depending on the variety, are sometimes orange or reddish, and appear before the leaves. The flowers, 1.5” in diameter, have four ribbon-like, contorted and showy petals which are frost-proof. The fruit, which is a small, dried ½” hairy capsule, matures in the fall and opens to explosively discharge its two seeds a considerable distance. Turkeys, pheasants, cardinals and grouse enjoy Witchhazel seeds.

The bright green leaves are broadly oval and waxy, alternately arranged on zig-zag stems; they usually measure 3-4” long and the edges are toothed. The fall color is outstanding, with orange to red to copper hues. The bark is smooth grey to grayish brown

Hamamelis x intermedia will grow to 15’ to 20’ in height and will be equally broad; it is upright- spreading and will develop an irregular, rounded crown. It can thrive in either full sun or partial shade and is tolerant of poor soils although a well-drained, moist and fertile soil will allow it to thrive. Witchhazel is considered to be a maintenance-free plant, although occasional pruning may help to tidy it up. It is relatively slow-growing.

This small tree is useful in naturalized situations, near large buildings and in shrub borders. It is well suited for Ewing, USDA Hardiness Zone 6 B.

There are many cultivated varieties (CVs) of this plant available, not all of them yellow-flowering, as its characteristics have made it very popular. Most frequently seen varieties are “Arnold Promise’, ‘Jelena’ and ‘Pallida’.

Witchhazel oil extract is used medicinally as an astringent and for soothing sprains and bruises. The flexible wood was once popular for making divining rods, which were employed to detect water sources; the term “witch” is derived from the old English “wice” which meant bendable.

There are very few significant pests or diseases which affect this plant but Japanese beetles are known to enjoy the foliage. Deer do not favor Witchhazel.

Ann Farnham, LLA

Email the Ewing Environmental Commission with your suggestions for the Tree of the Month.

Visioning 2 Event Set for Monday Night – Jan 12th

Dear Ewing Neighbor,

CBP_0965The year 2013 marked the Ewing’s first Sustainable Jersey Bronze certification, a recognized milestone for NJ towns that are forward moving. In 2014, the Ewing Green Team (EGT), working in partnership with Township Administration, wanted to capitalize on that as well as other Township successes by gathering Ewing citizens to look ahead and prepare for coming challenges and to anticipate the many opportunities that await our town  by creating a multi-year vision and action plan for sustainability in Ewing!

On June 7th at the EGT’s first Community Conversation: Preserving Our Past, Transforming Our Future, we began a journey together to thoughtfully chart a course for our future.   That morning was lively and exhilarating and reminded us all why we chose to live in Ewing – wonderful neighbors all working hand in hand to envision the best future for our town.  Led by a pair of sustainability champions from Cherry Hill, we worked to Preserve Our Past, evaluating our township as it currently exists and identifying the aspects of our community that we most valued.  We then envisioned how to Transform Our Future, imagining where we would like our community to be in ten or twenty years.  All of this was to create a shared vision that would form the basis for developing goals and completing actions that move the community toward a more ideal, sustainable community.   As one participant stated:  “I truthfully wanted to skip it when I saw what a beautiful day it was, but I’m so glad that I went!  I think this will be a very beneficial process for Ewing, if it is communicated to and shared with the community.”

During the months following we refined and amplified the suggested actions believed most realistic for Ewing that best reflected citizen ideas.  Now on January 12, 2015 we are pulling the effort together.  Many of you contributed ideas and experiences during 2014.  Now on Monday we invite you back to continue the journey with us and help make the community vision a reality.  Monday night’s program will feature an overview of the highlights of our Sustainability Plan, a fusion of the collective values and aspirations that have been expressed by you all during the Visioning process.  This community wrap-up session will include also break-out sessions where you will be encouraged to further hone specific doable actions, suggest partnerships, additional sub-actions, individuals or businesses to contact, specific educational topics, etc.

Our Sustainability Plan can become a great resource for our town by allowing us to peer into the future and lend shape to the unknown. Together, through the Vision, we have been able to plan for the future of our town with imagination and thoughtful wisdom. We laid the foundation for what Ewing will look like 10 or 20 years in the future including perhaps a Ewing that will make it into NJ Monthly Magazine’s bi-annual Best Cities/Towns to Live, a front porch community where people no longer retreat to their backyards but commune more with their neighbors, where block parties for neighborhoods to come together are common, and a town that is more walkable and bikeable, and one that has more community plantings and more community gardens.  These visions and many more are addressed throughout the Vision Plan.

We invite you to journey with us to the Ewing of the future, as envisioned by you, our neighbors.

The Ewing Green Team

All Conversation documents are located at

You may reference the current draft plan at the bottom of the page at:

IMPORTANT: We request that you please REPLY NOW if you are coming, to help us ensure sufficient seating and refreshments.

Date: this coming Monday January 12, 2015
Time: 6:30 – 8:30 pm.
Place: Community Room of the Ewing Senior & Community Center at 999 Lower Ferry Rd.

January Tree of the Month – Douglas Fir

douglasfirDouglas Fir is a “false fir”, as its botanical name, Pseudotsuga menzesii  implies : pseudo = false, and Tsuga is the genus name for hemlock, which resembles firs. Despite its name, this tree is a handsome, large evergreen, named after David Douglas (1799- 1834), a Scotsman reputed to be the greatest of all botanical explorers.

Douglas Fir is native to the western United States and Canada but now grows all over the country, including Ewing, NJ. It is among the tallest conifers in the world, second only to Coast Redwoods, and has been known to reach 330’ in its native habitat; 40’ to 80’ tall and 12’-20’ in spread is more common, however, and its USDA Hardiness Zone is 4-6 (Ewing is USDA Zone 6b).     It is reported to live more than 500 years in good habitats, and one tree is reported to have survived 1000 years.

The leaves ( needles), are flat and spirally arranged on the stems. The bark is thin, smooth and grey in youth, turning reddish-brown and ridged, with resin “blisters” in maturity; the needles are deep green; it has a resinous, fruity odor. The pendant cones are oval, usually reaching 2-3” long and have long bracts projecting from the scales. The cones persist into winter. The shape of the tree is open-pyramidal with straight, stiff branches. The lower branches in older specimens droop but are retained for a long time.

Douglas Fir does poorly in windy or crowded areas. It needs deep, cool, well-drained, neutral to slightly acid soil, and full sun. It seems to be fairly fire and drought-tolerant. It transplants well balled and burlapped. Be warned, however, that Pseudotsuga menzesii hosts many insect pests and needs monitoring in residential and park landscapes.

This is a very ornamental tree which is outstanding in the landscape as a specimen or in a group. The seeds are important food for mice, voles, chipmunks and squirrels, and the tree is a favorite habitat for many species of birds. The needles are a favorite food for porcupines and blue grouse.   The buds are used to flavor eau de vie and colorless fruit brandy, and it is very popular as a Christmas tree, especially since the needles do not fall easily.

This tree, with its very strong but lightweight wood, yields more timber than any other North American tree: it is used for dimensional lumber, timbers, plywood, railroad ties, furniture, posts, fencing and flooring.

Ann Farnham, LLA

Email the Ewing Environmental Commission with your suggestions for the Tree of the Month.

Project FeederWatch

feederwatchbuttonDevelopment of land is the bane of habitat for many species. As open space is lost to housing, industry, roads and “progress,” animals, birds, reptiles, plants, insects, trees and flowers all lose their habitat, unless it’s preserved. That development leads to an increase in emissions which contributes to global warming, posing further threats.

In the past 50 years, according to many studies, the population of Neo-Tropical bird species in the U.S. has plummeted, by up to 75% is some cases. New Jersey, one of the smaller states in size (but high in population density) has more than 500 species of birds, partly because it is on a number of important bird migration flyways. The area around Cape May is known around the world for its spring and fall bird migration.

Twenty-five years ago The Cornell Lab of Ornithology started Project FeederWatch as a way to document the movement of feeder birds around the country, and to see what’s happening to them. Now, more than 15,000 participants in all states (and Canadian provinces) report what species they see weekly, and how many at any one time, from November to April.

The Ewing Environmental Commission participates in FeederWatch because one of its aims is to preserve the natural environment in the Township. Participating in FeederWatch helps do that on a local, state and national basis, by increasing knowledge about what birds are seen at feeders, and with what frequency. Now in its tenth year, more than 160 reports have been filed, and more than 45 different bird species have been seen in that time. If you enjoy looking out your window with your morning cup of coffee ( or any other time of day for that matter) and observing the creatures that visit your own backyard wildlife habitat, why not join members of the Ewing Environmental Commission and add your own observations to the data collection? Find out more on our new Wildlife Protection through Observation and Documentation at Project FeederWatch page.

By Lee Farnham,
Chairman, Ewing Environmental Commission

Tree of the Month – Christmas Trees

evergreenAmong the pleasures we enjoy in December is choosing a Christmas tree. The choices are many: the firs (Douglas Fir, Fraser Fir, Balsam Fir), pines (Scotch, Eastern White), red cedars, and spruce (Colorado Blue, Norway, Concolor). Throughout the United States there are more than 35 different evergreen species grown for the holidays. They are available either cut, in containers, or balled and burlapped.

If you choose to purchase a cut tree, try to prevent the trunk from being exposed to the air for more than three to six hours; it should be put into a container with water as soon as possible. Next, trim off the lowest branches which might interfere with the tree’s staying upright in a stand, and then remove ragged branch tips or unattractive branches. Saw off an inch of the trunk so the tree can absorb water freely, and fasten it to its stand, which should contain plenty of water. The water, especially at first, should be replenished often.

Artificial Christmas trees are often made of PVC, a dangerous chemical, are not biodegradable, and do not have the wonderful fragrance of a real tree. However, they may be used for many years and are maintenance free.

A live tree, while somewhat more labor intensive to care for, may also be planted in your yard after its holiday use, and enjoyed for years to come. You must do some planning before you take the tree home but it is well worth while.

  1. Determine what spot on your property affords the correct exposure (full sun) and room. Check a good source or the internet to determine how much space your particular species of tree will require when mature.
  2. Dig the hole NOW before the ground freezes. Digging a frozen hole is no fun. Make the hole approximately 2 times the width of what you expect the container or root ball will be. This is important; and do not dig the hole any deeper than the height of the container or root ball. Fill the hole with leaves or mulch as insulation, and cover the hole and the pile of soil with a tarp and more leaves or mulch to avoid freezing. Throw away whatever sod was dug up as you do not want it included in the backfill.

Your live tree should be indoors as briefly as possible; place it at first (in a waterproof tub or container) in a garage or porch to allow it to acclimate to warmer temperatures. You can water it lightly and frequently, or place ice cubes over the root ball to keep the moisture levels up. Spraying the tree with an antidessicant such as Wiltproof will help control moisture loss through the needles.

When the tree is ready for planting, roll it into the hole and orient it so that its best side faces your house or the street. If the hole is too deep, add soil into the bottom and compact it until it is the right depth. Remove as much of the burlap around the root ball as possible; if it is in a container, remove the container. If it is in a wire basket, cut off as much of the basket as you can. Then, begin to backfill with the soil you set aside. Water it thoroughly and slowly as you fill the hole; this will push out air pockets and saturate the sides of the hole as well as the back fill.

It is not necessary to stake or guy the tree. Cover the area – to the drip-line- with 2-3” of double-shredded, hardwood bark mulch, keeping the mulch 2” away from the trunk. Water your Christmas tree every day for a week, twice the second week, and then once a week until the ground freezes and your hose becomes useless.

By Ann Farnham, LLA
December 2014

Best Wishes For The Holidays From Your Ewing Environmental Commission!

Recycling Your Old Holiday Lights a Bright Idea

christmaslightsHave you just dragged out the Christmas lights again only to find that you have strands that are only working intermittently or not working at all? (sigh)  Are your lights old and outdated?  Or have you been bitten by the little green bug and decided to purchase energy efficient LED lights this year?  Whatever the reason, you may find yourself in the market for new lights this season.  So, once you’ve greened up your holiday display with more energy efficient lighting, what should you do with the old lights?  Whatever you do, don’t throw them away.  Recycle them.  Unfortunately, having googled this extensively, we haven’t found a lot of options.  But there are two holiday light recycling programs that we’ve identified for repurposing your old lights.   They both give you discount coupons towards the purchase of even more energy efficient LED light sets.

Home Depot
Home Depot runs an “Eco Options Christmas Light Trade In” program through all Home Depot stores every year but it is only available during the Christmas holiday season.   It starts in November and concludes in early December.  Bring your old incandescent Christmas light strings to the Home Depot for recycling and you’ll receive $3 -$5 discount coupon toward the purchase of ENERGY STAR qualified LED Christmas lights for each strand.  (some restrictions apply)
The other program is run by and you can participate in it anytime throughout the year.   It was responsible for the recycling of 10,000 pounds of holiday lights during the 2009/2010 holiday season.  It’s easy to participate and all you have to do is send them your old Christmas lights for recycling and they’ll send you a discount coupon.

How does the program work? 
Simply pack up your old lights and send them to them via the least expensive method possible.  They ask that you:

  • Don’t include any packing material or anything other than the lights themselves or send the lights in outer packaging such as retail boxes or include any apparatus used to wind up or store the lights.
  • Use cardboard boxes or other packaging that can easily be recycled.
  • Compact your light sets into the smallest space possible in the smallest box possible without any extra packing or plastic bags.

They are located in Wisconsin so there is no way to do this locally.  They recommend that you coordinate with your friends, neighbors, co-works, social groups, church groups, or other organizations when possible to collect lights and send in one bulk shipment.  This will reduce shipping costs for everyone as well as reducing environmental impact of shipping.

Send to:
Holiday LEDS Recycling
13400 Watertown Plank Rd. Suite 34
Elm Grove, WI 53122

What Happens to the Lights?
Once they are received they are removed them from the package and the box is recycled. The lights are processed and any material that cannot be recycled such as loose bulbs is discarded. Once substantial number of sets has been collected they are taken to a third party recycling facility which puts them through a commercial shredder. The resultant little pieces are then further processed and sorted into the various components that make up the lights (PVC, glass, copper.) The materials are separated and transported to a region center for further processing. In some cases, the PVC cannot be recycled.


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