Forest Ave. School celebrated Earth Day on 2012 by holding three SCA hands-on Composting Presentations for all students, from Kindergarten through 4th Grade. You can view the pdf version HERE. Composting is nature's process of recycling decomposed organic materials into a rich soil known as compost. The children learned how to reduce waste and save money by composting food and yard waste. During the program they ate fruits and collected their banana peels, apple cores, watermelon rinds, etc. Later on all students visited the school's compost bin to contribute their food waste. The final product, a natural fertilizer, will be used in the school's gardens. Pictured, 4th Grade teacher Mrs. Gero with students visiting the school compost bin. For more information please read our composting page.
Safe Playing Fields
Pictured left, Verona Community Center's Linn Drive Field, which is treated regularly with synthetic pesticides since 2010. Pictured below, a student at Forest Avenue School untreated field. All Verona public elementary school fields are pesticide free.
Open VEC Safe Playing Fields Resolution
Over 50 legislators signed on to co-sponsor the Safe Playing Fields Act (S1143 / A2412) this year. READ MORE HERE
During that the Verona Council Meeting on July 16 Mike Kolenut (pesticide-free turf expert) was introduced by Jim Cunningham (Director of the Recreation Department) to talk about switching from chemical based lawn care to natural lawn care. He explained that fields will be perfectly safe to use right away after natural treatment. He show pictures of some of the 36 playing fields and 8 school districts they maintain totally organically in NJ. Here is an article about it in the Verona Patch. The Council mentioned that they would meet with the BOE to talk about having one shared natural-organic contract for all public areas in town. We encourage you to keep our community safe by maintaining your lawn with natural and organic products. The VEC also recommends the Township to support the Safe Playing Fields Act to help protect children from toxic pesticides. The VEC Chairman, Jerry Shimonaski urged the Council to prohibit the use of pesticides where children play in public areas, this was his presentation:
"Tonight you heard what Organic Lawn Care is all about. The Verona Environmental Commission has been an advocate of this type of lawn care for several years. At the May 6 meeting this Council received a plea from Nina Machnowski to make our playing fields pesticide-free. The Councils response was that you were interested in the safety of the children using our recreational fields. This township has plans to expand the recreational fields in the next several years. Now is the time for this Mayor and Council to step forward and join the 40 plus towns and many schools to make our playing fields pesticide-free.
Our children are especially sensitive and vulnerable to pesticides because of their rapid development. Adverse health effects, such as nausea, dizziness, respiratory problems, headaches, rashes and mental disorientation may appear even if a pesticide is applied according to the labels' directions. Pesticide exposure can have long term adverse effects including damage to a child’s neurological, respiratory, immune and endocrine systems and increased asthma symptoms.
These chemicals can also poison animals, pollute rivers and seep through the ground into underground aquifers. Currently, New Jersey uses about four million pounds of pesticides annually for lawn care, mosquito control, agricultural production and golf maintenance. While we all appreciate well kept fields, we need to balance that with not exposing our children to the risk of harmful pesticides. Please make the right decision and make our fields “pesticide–free”.
Pesticides have been linked to an increased risk of cancer, learning disabilities, asthma, birth defects, and reproductive problems, and children are more vulnerable than adults. The Safe Playing Fields Act would finally end the use of harmful chemicals on playgrounds and fields where our kids play. Sustainable, pesticide free care methods cost less over time, are effective, and are healthier for both the landscape and our children. Forty towns in NJ have created Pesticide Free Zones in their communities. Bergen Community College recently announced it is switching to a natural turf management program to create lush, playable fields without the use of synthetic pesticides or chemical fertilizers. The Millburn Environmental Commission held screenings of the award-winning documentary A Chemical Reaction. In June 2012, Montclair Town Council unanimously passed a Resolution in support of NJ legislation "Safe Playing Act" and prohibiting use of toxic synthetic lawn pesticides where children play in public areas.
Verona is a pioneer on Integrated Pest Managment (approving an IPM resolution 15 years ago). Since 2004, all New Jersey schools have been required to adopt an IPM program. The School IPM Law keeps students and staff safe from pesticides by mandating to use the safest methods available and emphasizing a non chemical approach. Verona schools adhere to IPM practices. But pesticides are still used in Verona
But each year, New Jersey homeowners use approximately 2 million pounds of pesticides on their lawns. Researchers, however, have found links between exposure to pesticides and serious human health problems including several types of cancer, asthma, neurological and reproductive disorders and birth defects. Children are especially vulnerable to pesticides because their bodies are developing.
Learn how to kick the pesticide habit! There are many new and highly effective natural/organic lawn care products and programs that are safe for families and pets. Learn about the health risks of conventional lawn chemicals by reading our new presentation WHY SHOULD VERONA AVOID PESTICIDES?
Low Phosphate fertilizers and better yet Organic Fertilizers such as Milorganite.
The New Jersey Fertilizer Law, A2290,
establishes statewide fertilizer standards and requires professional
fertilizer applicators to undergo training and become certified. It
prohibits fertilizer application during or just before heavy rainfall
and limits the time that fertilizer can be used. Fertilizer may not be
applied from November 15th to March 1st for consumers, and December 1st
to March 1st for professionals.
The Fertilizer Law is really about water quality. It still allows you to feed your lawn, but in a way that avoids adverse impact on NJ waters.Here you can read information for homeowners about this law.
You can use the rain runoff to water your gardens.
A rain barrel placed below the downspout of a gutter lets you catch water as it pours off the roof instead of sending it into the storm sewer.
Playing fields can be effectively maintained without pesticides: None are used on Verona Park or at our four public elementary schools. But since 2010 pesticides are applied regularly at HBW, VHS, the Community Center and Everett fields. To increase our children’s risk for getting cancer because we don’t like dandelions? That’s outrageous. Pesticides should not be applied just for the sake of cosmetic appearances. There are plenty of natural and safe techniques to maintain fields without using synthetic pesticides. The Verona Environmental Commission is asking Verona Town Council and BOE to stop using synthetic lawn pesticides on all school grounds and public sport fields. Pesticides should be allowed only in case of emergencies that pose a public health problem.
Tree Giveaway and Cleanup
part of the New Jersey Tree Recovery Campaign. Seedlings included Red Oaks, Flowering Dogwoods and Douglas Fir trees. The commission worked with the municipal government and the DEP to distribute 150 free trees with planting instructions. The VEC also organized a cleanup with volunteers to keep the park and nature preserve safe for people and wildlife. Thank you all!
VEC Petition: Verona residents Rose Saltalamacchia and Gabby Discafani presented the petition Verona-NJ Safe Playing Fields at the December 17th, 2012 Council Meeting. Over 200 Verona residents signed the petition, in person and on-line. In the document the Verona Environmental Commission asked Verona Town Council and Board of Education to stop using toxic synthetic lawn pesticides on all school grounds and public sport fields where children play. Councilmen Sniatkowski and Nochimson called for a two to three year commitment of pesticide free, organic field maintenance. Councilman Ryan mentioned the need to include the BOE in this commitment. All councilmen agreed and the VEC congratulates them all for it! The American Academy of Pediatrics recently published a report about Pesticide Exposure in Children. Pesticides can cause cancer, learning disabilities, asthma, birth defects and reproductive problems, and should not be applied just for the sake of cosmetic appearances. Pictured, gorgeous Bergen Community College sport field maintained without pesticides.
Pictured, a gorgeous Bergen Community College sport field, maintained without pesticides.
To learn about the health risks of conventional lawn chemicals please read our presentation Why Should Verona Avoid Pesticides?
All Verona Playing Fields Should Be Pesticide Free - Here's Why
Anoher way to reduce runoff in your yard is to plant a rain garden.
A rain garden is a shallow (2"-18") depression typically planted with colorful native plants, strategically located to collect, infiltrate and filter rain that falls on hard surfaces like roofs, driveways, or streets. This reduces rain runoff by allowing stormwater to soak into the ground (as opposed to flowing into storm drains and surface waters which causes erosion, water pollution, flooding, and diminished groundwater).
According to the Native Plant Society of New Jersey, the success of a rain garden depends on choosing the right shrubs and flowers for the conditions in that location.
Whether in the shade or full sun, native plants work best because they thrive without a lot of care, extra water or fertilizer. Avoid invasive plant species such as Norway Maple, English Ivy, Wisteria and Bamboo.
Rutgers studies shown that native plants are being displaced, invasive plants can come to dominate a place. If animals needed those native plants, they, too, can suffer. Invasive plants harm agricultural lands, parks, waterways, lawns.
Many billions of dollars are spent in the United States to control problem species.Rain barrels and other measures to reduce stormwater runoff benefit everyone. Untreated stormwater picks up a lot of pollutants as it rushes over the ground, and it all ends up in our streams and rivers where it can harm natural ecosystems and degrade our drinking water supplies.
Visit the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions, ANJEC for more information about stormwater runoff. Are you ready to build your own rain Garden? If so go to Rutgers Water Resource Program.
Many of Verona's trees are on private property, but those planted on the median between your sidewalk and the street are public shade trees. These trees are protected by code in Verona: Homeowners and utility workers may not touch them without the express permission of Verona's Shade Tree Commission. You should also report storm damage to these trees.
Trees improve our aesthetic environment, absorb noise, reduce stress and create a peaceful place to relax and socialize.
Are you ready to plant a tree? Here is a list of native trees and who can plant them for you.
There are hundreds of great reasons to protect, care and plant trees. Here are some:
The above pictured tree in Verona Civic Center has a plaque with the following words: "In Honor of Aurora C. Nash, friend of Verona trees, Arbor Day 1987". We're lucky to have many trees in Verona and, if we care for them, they will care for us in return!