Mow and Go: Grasscycling Update

mowerThe Ewing Green Team once again invites all Ewing residents to help create a greener Ewing through grasscycling.  So what exactly is grasscycling? It sounds like you should be putting your clippings out at the curb with the rest of the recycling, right?  In fact, that is not the case at all.  Grasscycling is the natural recycling of grass by leaving clippings on the lawn when mowing.  They should not be bagged for curb disposal.  Grasscycling reduces the amount of materials in your household trash and at the same time creates a valuable natural resource that will break down naturally and fertilize your lawn.   It’s simple, easy, saves time, money and energy.  Take a look at the following video to see how easy it is.  Then read the rest of this post below if you have any additional questions.

Benefits

When you leave your grass clippings on your lawn to decompose; it acts as a natural organic fertilizer supplying half of the nitrogen your lawn needs to thrive. Clippings, which are 80% water, settle between the blades of grass where they shelter the roots from the sun – conserving moisture. They also cool the roots and block weed growth.  Your lawn will remain healthy and green because each time you mow; you will return valuable nutrients to the soil and ultimately need to water less frequently.

Grasscycling begins with proper mowing

To maintain your lawn properly, mow high and mow often, so that you never take off more than 1/3 of the length of the grass. This will result in an attractive, neatly trimmed lawn.  Keep grass mowed to 2” in early spring, gradually raise the height to 3-4” by summer, then gradually reduce to 2” by late fall.

You don’t have to go out to buy a new mower. While most new mowers are mulching mowers; you can attach mulching equipment to your existing mower. Just remove the grass catcher. Ask your lawn mower dealer if you need a special safety plug or adapter kit to convert your mower into a ‘recycling’ mower; installing a mulching blade also is helpful.

Alternatives

There are times when grasscycling does not work. Prolonged wet weather, mower breakdowns, or infrequent mowing are situations where the large number of grass clippings should probably be collected. Add those clippings to your compost pile or use them as mulch around trees, flower beds, and shrubs.  The addition of this organic matter will ultimately improve your soil; sandy soils will retain more water and heavy clay soils will become more productive.

So Why Grasscycle?

So grasscycle for a healthy green lawn; to save a lot of green; and to be environmentally green.  Take advantage of the beneficial organic matter it adds to the soil making it greener and healthier, crowding out weeds and reducing the need for fertilizer.  Save time and effort by eliminating the bagging, raking and disposing of grass clippings.  And finally, help the environment by reducing water and fertilizer requirements and reducing toxic runoff entering storm drains and polluting creeks and rivers.  It’s the ‘green’ thing to do.

Take Our GrassCycle Pledge

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Goodbye, Mary Jane

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Ewing Green Team lost a major player recently when Vice Chair Mary Jane Leach moved to Georgia. We will miss her but know that Ewing’s loss will definitely be Decatur’s gain.

See this preview of a Ewing Green Team scrapbook for photos of her tenure with the GT.

Posted in history, Mary Jane Leach | Leave a comment

Community Conversation Initiates Discussion on Sustainability Issues in Ewing

CBP_0965Just over two weeks ago over 50 concerned Ewing residents, township staff and elected officials  met to have a discussion about a sustainable future for Ewing Township.   It was a gorgeous day and in fact according to one attendee ” 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.”

In fall of 2013, Ewing Township obtained its first bronze-level of Sustainable Jersey certification.  Using the funds made possible from  a $10,000 Sustainable Jersey Small Grant funded by PSEG Foundation, the team is using a community visioning process to plan for the next 3 year certification.   By consulting the community on what is important to them, the Ewing Green Team plans to respond with a coordinated strategy plan that is specific to what the people of Ewing value and want.  The  Community Conversation on June 7th was the first step in the process. The Green Team will now take the input gathered from the participants and work to develop and prioritize specific goals.  Look for development of specific topics developed at the visioning to be further refined at the summer Green Team meetings.  A second visioning workshop is targeted for fall 2014. The community be invited to come together again to review the sustainability goals that were developed.

Zero Waste Report

Our first conversation was a low-waste effort.  We saw many travel mugs and personal beverage containers.  We were pleased to obtain about ½ of a bag of compostable materials which were taken to the compost bins at the Community Gardens on Whitehead Road Extension.  There was about ¼ of a bag of actual “garbage” that will end up in a landfill.  And the rest of the trash was recyclable.  We kept the badges – the plastic containers are reusable (we hope see community members again during our meetings as we brainstorm for a plan and at the Fall review) and the paper insert was recyclable.

It required a little bit more effort to plan for a low waste event, but for a gathering of our size we felt that the results justified our efforts.  From the cloth napkins to the absence of extraneous handouts and paper, to the lack of individual sized containers (e.g. sugar packets, individual creamers and tubs and jars of condiments, etc.) and even to the double sided badge with the agenda, we tried to reduce our use of unnecessary packaging, plastic and garbage in general.

The public is invited to attend the next Ewing Green Team meeting on June 30 at 6:30 p.m. at the Ewing Senior and Community Center where the members will begin to brainstorm on some of the initial themes developed from the visioning session.

Posted in Bronze Certification, Capacity Building, Community Conversation, Ewing's Sustainable Future, Meetings, plan, strategic planning, Sustainable Jersey, visioning | Leave a comment

New Environmental Insights Program to Be Held on June 10th

ewingraingardenHow to Design and Implement a Rain Garden in Your Landscape

Become Water Wise and Protect Our Native Species

If you can only do one thing for the environment this season we suggest reducing some of our vast suburban monoculture by removing some of your lawn and planting a garden. If you plant a rain garden near a downspout to intercept roof runoff  and filled with native plants; even better.   It will help to slow the flood of storm water, reduce erosion, and absorb pollutants.  The birds, bees and butterflies will also repay your hard work by appearing regularly and pollinating your landscape.  And then enjoy the fun of watching wildlife up close!

What Are Rain Gardens?

Rain gardens are plantings that are specifically designed to soak up rain water from roofs, from driveways, parking lots, and lawns. When it rains, the rain garden fills with a few inches of water and allows the water to slowly seep into ground filtering out pollutants such as fertilizer, pesticides, and oil, rather than having it run into the waterways or storm drains. This purifies the water and lets it replenish the aquifer rather than having it flow unfiltered into streams, lakes or the ocean. The ground should not remain wet, but should dry in a day or so of fair weather. It is planted with native shrubs and flowers that can tolerate wet or dry conditions and add to the beauty of the neighborhood and attract wildlife.

Rain Gardens not only beautify your landscape, but also serve practical environmental purposes. Their interception of water runoff from impervious surfaces provides a number of benefits for your landscape. It acts to minimize the volume and improve the quality of water entering conventional storm drains and nearby streams. It also works to minimize soil erosion. It helps you provide a habitat for wildlife which can be sorely lacking in home gardens. And finally, the volume and quality of water is better whether it is absorbed in or leaves a rain garden.

Lindsay Blanton, our 2013/2014 AmeriCorps Watershed Ambassador at NJDEP, will present using training materials created by Rutgers University.  She will teach the basic steps to building and maintaining this simple, proven and inexpensive solution to the problem of storm water pollution.

Date: Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Hollowbrook Community Center, Nutrition Room, 320 Hollowbrook Dr, Ewing Township, NJ 08638
Cost:  Free and Open to the Public

Posted in Environmental Insights, Native Plants, Pollinators, Rain Gardens, water conservation, Water Management | Leave a comment

Community Conversation Less than One Week Away

teamworkfutureThe countdown to the Ewing Green Team’s Community Conversation is in full swing.  On Saturday, June 7th, only 6 days from today, the Ewing Green Team will gather along with  other citizen activists for a morning of planning to begin a process of creating a comprehensive community sustainability plan.  Led by a team of facilitators from Maga Sustainability, Lori Braunstein and Natalie Barney, sustainability champions from Cherry Hill, we will endeavor to Preserve Our Past, recognizing where we have come from, evaluate our township as it currently exits and  identify what is it about our community that we most value.  With our strengths identified, we will then endeavor to discern how to Transform Our Future, imagining where we would like our community to be in ten or twenty years and to create a shared vision that will form the basis for developing goals and completing actions that move the community toward a more ideal, sustainable community.  

We are extremely excited to have this unique opportunity to formulate a sustainable future for our town in a more planned way based on the input of concerned citizens.  It will be the first time a global community focus on sustainability will have been addressed in an in-depth way in Ewing.  The process is being funded by a PSE&G grant through Sustainable Jersey.

Regarding the process, all ideas will be welcome.  Can you imagine a Ewing that will make it into NJ Monthly Magazine’s bi-annual Best Places to Live article?   One vision for a perfect future might also include more of 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.  One that is more walkable and bikable.  One that is prettier, with more  community plantings and more community gardens.  What would you like to see in our town?   We look forward to joining with other participants to each bring our unique visions for Ewing’s future.

Date: Saturday, June 7th
Time: 8:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Location: TCNJ, Education Building, Room 212

For more information email ewinggreenteam@gmail.com

Posted in Community Conversation, Ewing's Sustainable Future, visioning | Leave a comment

Shred Day – Saturday, May 31st

SONY DSCDispose of your sensitive documents safely and securely at Ewing’s second Shred Day of the year, Saturday, May 31st from 9 – 1 at the municipal building.  Document shredding will be done on site.  This service is for Ewing residents only and proof of residency is required.

The Ewing Green Team will be on hand to assist.

Date: Saturday, May 31st
Time: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Location: Municipal Building

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Environmental Insights

cowonfarmThe Conversation about our Industrial Food System Begins with Food, Inc.

Date: Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: The College of New Jersey, Education Building, Ewing, NJ 08628, Room 113, Parking in Lots 17 and 18 (Directions)
Cost: Free and open to the public

Organic, Grow Local, GMO/GE, rBGH, antibiotic usage, factory farms, food labeling laws, processed foods, obesity epidemic, high fructose corn syrup… These are just a few of the issues about the American food supply that now bombard an awakening public. Its industrialization has filled our supermarkets with plenty, but at what cost? Are our bodies able to safely handle the thousands of chemical additives that are now routine in our diet? Is the American diet indeed responsible for the epidemic levels of food allergies, Autism, ADHD, Type  II Diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and many other conditions that are being suggested by some health and nutrition professionals? What do they all mean, how are they related, and finally, is our industrial food supply being properly regulated by the government agencies that are supposed to protect our health? Let’s start the discussion about our food in our town with a showing and discussion about documentary film Food, Inc.  Ewing Green Team is delighted to introduce as our moderator, Camille Miller, the Executive Director of the Northeast Organic Farming Association.

About Food Inc.

Food, Inc. is a 2008 American documentary film directed by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Robert Kenner. The film lifts the veil on our nation’s food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that’s been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government’s regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA. Our nation’s food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment. Featuring interviews with such experts as Eric Schlosser (“Fast Food Nation”), Michael Pollan (“The Omnivore’s Dilemma”) along with forward thinking social entrepreneurs like Stonyfield Farms’ Gary Hirschberg and Polyface Farms’ Joel Salatin, Food, Inc. reveals shocking truths about what we eat, how it’s produced, who we have become as a nation and where we are going from here.

About Ms. Miller

camillemillerCamille Miller is an organic food advocate and has worked extensively in raising awareness around food and farming issues at the local, state and national levels.  She also serves as Vice-President of the Board on the NOFA Interstate Council, a seven state organic farming coalition. She is an active member in the National Organic Coalition (NOC), an alliance of grassroots organic groups and environmen-tal organizations working to provide a “Washington voice” for farmers, ranchers, environmentalists and others involved in organic agriculture as well as a national trained speaker for the Institute of Responsible Technology on Genetically Engineered food.

Posted in Diet, Environmental Series, Food | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment