Ode to an Oak

Last month, the Salem Oak, the tallest white oak tree in New Jersey, toppled within the grounds of Salem Friends Meeting. In its honor, Meeting member Jessica Waddington wrote this obituary of the beloved county landmark. On Thursday, June 6 at around 6:00 in the evening, the stately Salem Oak lay down, after standing tall for an estimated 600 years. She was at home, in the Salem Friends Burial Ground on Broadway, in the small historic town of Salem, N.J. She had battled time, gravity, and Mother Nature for several hundred years, losing several limbs and requiring a great deal of care, before finally succumbing. She was surrounded by her descendants, the town that loved her, and a few hundred deceased Friends, all of whom benefited from her stately bearing, her ongoing endurance, and her deep roots that preceded not only the birth of this nation, but the European settlement of its lands.

Girls and Seaweed

"2040" is not a sophisticated film, nor is it original, the ideas and arguments all having been developed by others. It’s not meant to be either of those things – engaging, persuasive and urgent, it’s an exercise in what you might call muscular hope. Filmamker, Damon Gameau's eco-commentary operates on a knife edge: if you’re critical of government policy, you’re derided as an Eeyore; constructive, you’re a nutty utopian. Gameau dances the middle path, outlining the intractable issue - carbon from transport, waste, farming, energy and ignorance - before focusing exclusively on two surprising solutions that deploy existing technology and address the climate crisis - things that are doable.


Milkweed for Monarchs

And so it starts! Well, it started with the eggs but I can never see them so here are some pictures of my milkweed plants, pods and caterpillars. I have about 75 plants and will offer the seed pods to anyone interested when they have finished growing. Awareness is rising around the importance of milkweed (as well as other native plants) for pollinators, because the fact is,  for your area can be a huge help to monarchs and a number of other species. Milkweed is a beneficial wildflower. Planting milkweed is a sure way to help . With completion of the status assessment in December 2020, the Fish and Wildlife Service will determine whether protecting the monarch under the Endangered Species Act is warranted. 

Milkweed, Pods & Caterpillars

And so it starts! Well, it started with the eggs but they are difficult to see so here are some pictures of my milkweed plants, pods and caterpillars. I have about 75 plants in my yard and will offer the seed pods to anyone interested when they have finished growing Monarch butterflies lay their eggs on just one type of plant, and that’s milkweed (genus Asclepias). While awareness is rising around the importance of milkweed(as well as other native plants) for pollinators we want to clear up any misconceptions. Because the fact is, for your area can be a huge help to monarchs and a number of other species.


Sociologic Sustainability Basics

The median quality of life is perhaps best measured by the readily available access to the basic necessities of life. In its own way, it is a measure of success for the sociological development and a prime indicator of sociological sustainability. There are four keys to improve the median quality of life that are sadly lacking in modern society. These are viable education rather than merely teaching to the test, and including options for vocational and technical training for those people who are less capable of learning in a more scholastic environment; real-world, paying opportunities for those who have received an education; accomplishing this without the creation of a dependency class; and perhaps most important of all, the ability to provide all of this without overly burdening those who are already productive and contributing members within a society or community development.



Mildew Resistant Basil


Four new sweet basil varieties - resistant to downy mildew disease which destroys leaves and has been the bane of basil growers for a decade - are now being sold to home gardeners and commercial farmers across the United States thanks to years of painstaking breeding and selection at Rutgers University. Two of the four varieties also show high resistance to Fusarium wilt, another important soil-borne disease. The four new downy mildew resistant (DMR) sweet basils are Rutgers Devotion DMR, Rutgers Obsession DMR, Rutgers Passion DMR and Rutgers Thunderstruck DMR. These varieties of sweet basil – one of America’s most popular garden herbs and the most important annual culinary herb commercial crop – became available to commercial growers last spring and are now available to home gardeners.


IE has Beans!

Yesterday morning we were able to harvest our first beans from the IE site at Wellwood Park tennis courts. Our first pick of the season yielded about 60 mature Provider green beans and 1 Golden Rocky bean. We hope our Red Silk beans - which need 85 days to mature - will recover from all the rain, begin to flower and bear beautiful red beans! You can store unwashed fresh beans in a reusable container or plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper where they should keep for about seven days. Green beans can also retain valuable amounts of nutrients for 3-6 months after freezing, so if you choose the freezing option, rinse them in cool water, drain, cut to your desired size, then place them in freezer bags and storing them in your freezer.

No Mows Blossom

Merchantville’s Green Team planted two wildflower gardens last October in the town's two "no mow" zones. These natural gardens and pollinator habitats are located on the lawns adjacent to the bike path trail along West Chestnut Avenue started sprouting lots of black-eyed susan this week and we can't wait to see what else will blossom this summer. These areas provide an excellent habitat for pollinators such as native bumble bees. These zones allow plants to flower which in turn provides a place for pollinators to stop and have a meal.

Brewing Salad Fixins

What can an Incredible Edible group do relating to the business plate? Just by growing food in public places, allowing people to see plants in the ground and harvesting the produce when it’s ready, you’re encouraging people to think about where their food comes from – and that isn’t a vacuum packed plastic tub from the supermarket. There are other things you can do so people think about where their food comes from when they decide what they’re next going to spend their well-earned money on. Our own Eclipse Brewing is a super example spinning the IE business plate.

Bee Loss Highest Yet

Winter hit U.S. honeybees hard with the highest loss rate yet, an annual survey of beekeepers showed. The annual nationwide survey by the Bee Informed Partnership found 37.7% of honeybee colonies died this past winter, nearly 9 percentage points higher than the average winter loss. The survey of nearly 4,700 beekeepers managing more than 300,000 colonies goes back 13 years and is conducted by bee experts at the University of Maryland, Auburn University and several other colleges. Explore the colony loss map and other surveys in NJ.

Summer Farm Camp

Spend a week on the farm at Free Haven Farms learning about science. Nature will be our classroom to explore agriculture, ecosystems, food chains, soil chemistry, insects, and more. Open for youth ages 3-12. July 8 - 12; 9am-4pm. $150; $50 non-refundable deposit required upon registration. Balance is due upon arrival. Free Haven Farms is a hands-on operation that Cynthia and Micaiah Hall established three years ago in Lawnside. Dr. Cynthia Hall, who grew up in this cozy borough, is an Environmental Geochemist and Associate Professor at West Chester University. She received her BS in Chemistry from Howard University and Ph.D. in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences from Georgia Tech. She and Micaiah are raising three children while using artisanal agriculture to make a living, share their considerable knowledge, and build community. Their motto is “sustainable and attainable,” says Micaiah, 42, a plumber by trade who hails from Connecticut and grew up working on a neighbor’s farm. He also worked for seven years at the Mill Creek Farm in West Philly. Read Kevin Riordan's story about them.

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