Gardeners of Somerset Valley

November 2005					Editor: Mitch Greenbaum

NEXT MEETING: Wednesday, November 16, 7:30 PM, At the North Branch Reformed Church
Some time over the next thirty years, it’s highly probable that New Jersey will have earned the unflattering distinction as the first state to be totally “built out”. Every day New Jersey loses approximately 50 acres of land to the seemingly insatiable appetite of developers who replace fields and farms with mostly homes and strip malls. But once in awhile there is news to the contrary about a parcel of land of high conservation value that gets saved from this fate and becomes preserved forever. If this land preservation occurred in central New Jersey, more than likely the D&R Greenway Land Trust played an active role in the deal. Next week our speaker will be Elika Molayi, who serves as the Communications & Development Assistant for D&R. She will talk about the organization’s mission of purchasing greenway properties to protect New Jersey’s water supply, promote a healthier environment for plants, birds and animals, and to support a better overall quality of life. Last year I attended a D&R fundraiser, and in my opinion the speakers came across as deeply committed environmentalists displaying great affection for New Jersey, and who wanted to work within the legal system to do the right thing for landowners and communities. The slides of the case studies were picturesque and the stories behind them inspirational, and I also remember telling Helene who was also present that the mood of the event reminded me of a GOSV meeting. It felt almost like we were of the same personality except they were concerned with macro issues, while gardeners tend to focus more on the micro aspect of land management. So even if you only have a slight interest in conservation, next week would be an ideal time to learn how a small non-profit organization has already saved 8830 prime acres from development, and is working in a big way to help keep the ‘Garden State’ from becoming known as the ‘Asphalt State’.

Last month’s pumpkin contest resembled a comedy of errors. Fred Swan’s initial entry was an unidentifiable shriveled up thing that at best looked like an underdeveloped prune. Ray Hawkins, who last year produced a majestic 100-plus pound giant, brought in a 1-pound mini but it’s saving grace was that at least it was yellow and not green. However, as Christine aptly noted, this wasn’t supposed to be an onion contest. The eventual winner was Larry Haas’s non-descript 3-pounder. Everything from a poor batch of seeds to drought was blamed for the poor showing, but all participants were good sports, and like the previously cancelled dahlia contest, we’ll just have to wait until next year for better results.

Dottie Wright has struck again by arranging another interesting outside activity for the club. This time, on Saturday June 3, 2006 for a mere $23, members can take a 2-1/2 hour guided pontoon tour exploring the mysteries of the Meadowlands habitat. Lunch will be served and Dottie promises to provide more details at the meeting.

The trustees met several weeks ago and voted unanimously to donate $250 for the Freedom Trail of Great Americans being developed at Rutgers. Co-sponsored by our parent organization, this unique horticultural project almost right in our own backyard has the makings of becoming one of the prominent gardening sites in all of New Jersey if not the whole east coast. The board will be asking for individual donations with the overall goal to collect $695 for a teak wooden bench. Before making a final decision, Dottie has volunteered to contact a steering committee member to see if any presidential trees are still available or if it would be more beneficial to target the donation towards the construction of the Field of Heroes entrance. Remember, all GOSV members are invited to the June 8th dedication, and this fundraiser will also be discussed at the next several meetings.

Other Club Happenings

Another reminder, there is no meeting in December.