Green Festival to return May 4
54-plot community garden to debut
by E. Assata Wright
Reporter staff writer
Apr 28, 2013 | 2975 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The festival will include a petting zoo and a “working farm,” according to the mayor.
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Come Saturday, May 4, green thumbs will be wagging again in Secaucus for the fourth annual Summer Green Festival. A day-long outdoor community fair dedicated to the environment, environmental preservation, and sustainability, the Green Festival seeks to educate residents about what they can do in their homes and businesses to make them more earth-friendly.

This year, the festival was moved up from June to be timed closer to Earth Day, also known as Arbor Day, which was celebrated on April 22.

For this year’s festival, the town – which is cosponsoring the event with Xchange at Secaucus Junction – will have 52 booths and tables from environmental organizations and environmentally-oriented commercial services. A high point of the day will include a groundbreaking for what town officials claim will be one of the largest community gardens in the state of New Jersey.

“We hope to educate people at this event and show them the different kinds of ways they can protect the environment at home with their families,” said Secaucus resident Amanda Nesheiwat, chairwoman of the Secaucus Environmental Commission. “And it’s a lot of fun.”

Bigger, better

The Summer Green Festival is actually a re-invention of the old Riverfest, which the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission used to host each year in Laurel Hill Park along the banks of the Hackensack River. When the state agency decided to discontinue Riverfest several years ago, Secaucus revived it and turned it into the Green Festival.

“We’ve been doing Green Fest for a few years and it’s been small up until this year,” said Mayor Michael Gonnelli. “We were able to get a sponsorship of $25,000 from Xchange. So this year it’s going to be really big. We’re going to have a lot of fun activities. We’ll have rock climbing, jousting, bull riding, pony rides, carriage rides, river cruises, canoeing, hot air balloon rides. We’re going to have a working farm.”

The butterfly exhibit, a popular attraction from the June 2012 Green Festival, will also return this year and there will also be bat and raptor shows, as well.

As part of the butterfly exhibit, staff from the Secaucus Public Library will read a children’s book that describes the life cycle of butterflies from the hungry caterpillar stage, to the larva and cocoon stages, all the way through to the beautiful butterfly stage. After having the book read to them, children will then be able to visit the festival’s butterfly garden.
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Officials are encouraging residents to donate at least a portion of their harvest to food pantries.
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“Obviously, these exhibits are a lot of fun for kids,” Nesheiwat said. “But you also get to learn things about the plight of the butterflies and how bats and raptors are important to the eco-system around here.”

For adults, there will be more than 52 booths with information on such topics as backyard composting, rain barrels, hybrid cars, and solar initiatives. Several nonprofiit groups will also be on hand for the day to educate residents about ongoing environmental issues in the Garden State, including Food and Water Watch, 350.org, Hackensack Riverkeeper, and the Hudson County Improvement Authority.

Music will also be provided throughout the day by a line-up of acts that will include Metal Lands and Rhoda Schuster.

Xchange community garden to debut

Among the highlights of the festival will be the unveiling and official groundbreaking of the town’s community garden at Xchange, which Gonnelli said will probably be among the largest community gardens in the state.

The garden, which was being built last week, will include 54 garden beds. The plots will be nurtured with the aid of on-site composting and an on-site rain barrel.

“We are looking for 54 families at Xchange to adopt a bed and take it and maintain it,” said Gonnelli.

While the residents are permitted to keep the fruits of their labor, town officials are encouraging residents to donate at least a portion of their harvest to Hudson County food shelters and pantries.

Secaucus school children and other residents will plant vegetables at a separate community garden on the site of the old Keystone Metal Finishing plant sometime in mid-May, Gonnelli said. The 12 garden beds at this site are 4’ x 8’ and are located in the center of town on Humboldt Street. (When these plots break ground, the town plans to plant three trees in memory of former Department of Public Works employee Dave McAdam, former town engineer Gerald Perricone, and Anthony Citro, the town’s former recycling coordinator.)

The Summer Green Festival will kick off at Xchange at Secaucus Junction on Saturday, May 4 at 10 a.m. and will go until 4 p.m. that day.

The festival is being cosponsored by the Town of Secaucus, Xchange at Secaucus Junction, the Hackensack Riverkeeper, and Field Station: Dinosaurs.

E-mail E. Assata Wright at awright@hudsonreporter.com.

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