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Archives for October 8, 2013

Six Flags employees want to make a difference in community



EUREKA, Mo. (KSDK) – Six Flags St. Louis is asking the community to help them find a project that will allow employees to volunteer to make a difference for a person, family, or non-profit organization.

Each November, after the park has closed for the season, employees take part in Project 6 Day to give back to the community. This will be the fifth year for the event, which uses employees to do various projects such as painting, cleaning, landscaping, filling food boxes, or performing minor repair work.

In the past, these projects have included work at Epworth Children’s Center, food pantries, Camp Wyman, and shelters.

Employees are asking for people to submit ideas. Anyone can send a submission, which must be mailed to Six Flags St. Louis, P.O. Box 60, Eureka, Mo. 63077 Attn. Public Relations. Submissions must be postmarked no later than Oct. 18.

For more information on the types of projects Six Flags is looking for, visit their website.


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Growing a great education

Kawartha Lakes This Week

(LINDSAY) Students at Alexandra Public School are really digging their education these days.

It has everything to do with the various gardens and plots that have been put in place over the past few months, ranging from an outdoor classroom to a butterfly garden.

The idea came from parent Cherie Knox whose children attended the Mulberry Waldorf School in Kingston – one of 2,500 independent Waldorf schools around the world that balances the physical, emotional and intellectual needs of each student – and had opportunity to access similar gardens.

“I thought, they did it there, why not here?”

Mrs. Knox discussed the idea with the parent council, presented the idea to staff in June and, before long, was connecting with local businesses and groups. The Gamiing Nature Centre donated plants and provided important insight into natural planting and sustaining gardens while Pineridge Landscaping, Porter Top Soil, Rockwood Forest Nurseries and Beverley Turf Farms did their part helping with construction and development.

During the summer, space was created for outdoor classrooms – complete with chalkboards – a vegetable garden and a new home for displaced conifers.

Most recently, all of the students took part in preparing and planting a butterfly garden.

“The kids absolutely loved it. They had so much fun,” said Mrs. Knox, noting the garden will help students learn more about life cycle of butterflies, their role in ecosystems and information on the plants used in the garden.

The gardens also afford youngsters the opportunity to be exposed to horticulture.

“It’s amazing to be able to give that to these kids,” added Mrs. Knox.

Best of all, said school principal Kathy Burge, it’s all totally unused space that has now been revitalized.

“We’re now blending the indoor curriculum with the outdoors,” said Ms Burge. “The kids are out there all the time. There are so many great teaching experiences now. Experiential learning is powerful. They’ll retain so much more for being out there.”

The gardens have also helped the students become all the more invested in their school community, learning more about respect and responsibility as well as showing another facet of being positive stewards of the environment.

And they’re only just getting started.

“We have three or four more projects in the works,” said Mrs. Knox. “There’s just tons of ideas that have come up to help teach the students outside the classroom.”

Silver Creek board hears all about Complete Streets

SILVER CREEK – The Silver Creek Village Board seemed receptive to a presentation on the concept of “Complete Streets” at its meeting Monday.

Lisa Schmidtfrerick-Miller from the Chautauqua County Health and Human Services Department attended the meeting to inform the board about what Complete Streets are and what they can do for the community.

Schmidtfrerick-Miller previously met with the planning board and has been in contact with Mayor Nick Piccolo and Highway Foreman Ralph Crawford in planning what could work for Silver Creek.

Article Photos

OBSERVER Photo by Nicole Gugino
Lisa Schmidtfrerick-Miller from the Chautauqua County Health and Human Services Department presented to the Silver Creek Village Board on Complete Streets Monday.

She explained the Health Department is targeting children ages birth to 18 to try to prevent obesity and chronic disease. One of the ways it is doing this is by encouraging walking and biking to school.

She defined Complete Streets as streets designed to be safe, comfortable and convenient for all users.

“We have seen that if there are safe places to be active, people will be more active,” she said. “It really is like; if you build it, they will come.”

Schmidtfrerick-Miller said around one-third of the population does not drive. This includes children under driving-age, the elderly and individuals not able to afford a car.

She said in Silver Creek 4.9 percent of households do not own a car. This number is lower than in Jamestown or Dunkirk because the need for driving is greater in a smaller community like Silver Creek.

She said Silver Creek has many streets that accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists, however while touring the village she did find some areas where the village may like to improve.

One example she gave was across Howard Street by Rite-Aid. She said she observed cars barely stop before turning right onto Route 5 West and not look for pedestrians looking to cross. She said in this instance the village could ask the state Department of Transportation to look into solutions like a crossing signal.

She explained Complete Streets does not mean changing every street, only the ones that do not accommodate the regular traffic – cars, bikes and walkers.

She said this can be done through sidewalks, bike lanes, curb extensions and even landscaping can affect how fast traffic travels on a road.

“When you make streets for cars, you get cars. When you make streets for walkers, you get walkers. Businesses want people walking by their stores,” she said.

She said Complete Streets is less costly during construction, rather than retrofitting but having a policy in place can aid in residents health, safety, and promote a community vision.

She said she can help the village develop a Complete Streets Policy, create a report of needs and priorities, identify potential funding and assist in grant applications.

“I am asking the board to consider adopting a Complete Streets Policy with realistic goals,” she said.

Piccolo said the village has many walkers and he already has some ideas of areas that could use improvement.

Resident Daniel Drozdiel said the town of Hamburg worked with the DOT to make Route 62 more accessible for all and it has resulted in a lot of private investment in the area.

Piccolo said he wants the Planning Board to be involved the in development of the policy and identifying where work should be done.

The board also heard a presentation from Hanover Assessor Darlene Fox on registration for Basic STAR. Fox said homeowners ages 64 and younger must register for the Basic STAR exemption by Dec. 31. She said a letter should have been sent out and residents can register online or by phone. Informational brochures will be available in the village clerk’s office as well as the assessor’s office in the town hall. Any questions can be directed to the assessor’s office Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. by stopping by or calling 934-2552.

The board will meet on Oct. 21 for its regular meeting.

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Future of Grover Cleveland Park to be topic Sunday in West Caldwell Township

Posted: Monday, October 7, 2013 3:00 am

Future of Grover Cleveland Park to be topic Sunday in West Caldwell Township


West Caldwell Twp. – The Grover Cleveland Park Conservancy will conclude its centennial lecture series with Grover Cleveland Park Conservancy and the Future of the Park: Restoring and Preserving its Woodlands at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 13 in the Community Room of the West Caldwell Public Library, 30 Clinton Road.

The slide-lecture will be presented by Conservancy trustees Claudia Kolster and Caroline Mescia and will focus on future initiatives for the park. While the conservancy has done much to improve the park facilities and structures since in inception in 2001, the plan is to shift the focus to the woodlands, restoration of elements in the original Olmsted plans, and preservation of its biodiversity.

Kolster received her bachelor’s degree from Carnegie Mellon University, and after a career in sales and marketing made a life change to pursue her passion in gardening and horticulture. She received her master gardener certification in 2007 from Rutgers University, and spent four years working at the Essex County Presby Memorial Iris Gardens in Montclair where she was the garden director.

She is now pursuing private gardening and landscaping ventures, having received her Rutgers organic land care course certification and successfully completed the requirement for natural turf and landscape management in 2013. Kolste is also an RMGANJ State Delegate for Essex County Master Gardeners and is the current President of the Grover Cleveland Park Conservancy.

Mescia is the founder of the Grover Cleveland Park Conservancy, established in 2001, and was president of the conservancy for the first 10 years. In this role, she was successful in procuring Green Acres grants for which she was the co-writer. These grant funds made it possible for the many structural improvements to the park, which are enjoyed today. She has also spearheaded many of the park rehabilitation initiatives in partnership with the Essex County Parks Department. She is a graduate of Wellesley College.

This program is free and open to the public, but advance registration is required.  To sign-up, call the library at (973) 226-5441 or sign-up online at

More about Grover Cleveland

  • ARTICLE: Grover Cleveland Middle School 3rd marking period honor rolls released
  • ARTICLE: Grover Cleveland Park Conservancy sponsors art display at Art on the Ave. Saturday, June 1
  • ARTICLE: Trebor, Inc., donation helps build Caldwell softball dugouts
  • ARTICLE: Caldwell middle school students achieve 6 ‘Superior’ and one ‘Excellent’ rating at music festivals

More about West Caldwell

  • ARTICLE: Caldwell High school Soccer — Chiefs push record to 5-2-2
  • ARTICLE: Caldwell High School Volleyball — Lady Chiefs off to strong start
  • ARTICLE: Iodice 269 yards, 2 TDs lead Caldwell Chiefs over Panthers
  • ARTICLE: Mount falls in quarterfinals, West Essex to face Caldwell

More about West Caldwell Township

  • ARTICLE: Learn about 18th century life in Caldwell at library
  • ARTICLE: Members show on exhibit this month at Crane’s Mill
  • ARTICLE: West Essex Art Association meeting features noted artist, Tim Gaydos
  • ARTICLE: Library to host Read Across West Caldwell in October


Monday, October 7, 2013 3:00 am.

| Tags:

Grover Cleveland,

West Caldwell,

West Caldwell Township

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Yardsmart: ‘Green manure’ for lazy gardeners

Long before the advent of synthetic plant foods, farmers had only two ways to make their fields more fertile. One method was to spread manure from livestock, which proved a labor-intensive method that dates back to the dawn of agriculture. The other option, known as “green manure,” doesn’t use real manure at all, but provides even better results.

Early on, farmers learned that their crops grew better where clover was present. Science later explained this phenomenon as nitrogen fixation, which is prevalent among all members of the pea family, particularly a group known as legumes. With these crops, nitrogen is not obtained from the soil like with other plants. Instead, these species draw atmospheric nitrogen into their leaves and send it down into the roots where it moves out into the surrounding soil.

Somebody got the bright idea of sowing clover all over a crop field in the fall so it could build up nitrogen over the winter months. By spring, these plants were rich with nitrogen throughout their stems and roots. When the time came to start the new garden, the cover crop was tilled into the ground so it decomposed, thereby infusing the soil with fresh organic matter and a bonus dose of nitrogen. This practice caught on and became known as “green manure.”

Today, sowing green-manure cover crops in the fall is a big part of organic gardening for the same reason it was practiced before commercial fertilizers. It works better for larger gardens where a tiller is used. The power of a tiller or rotovator is needed to chop the plants up as it turns the ground.

Green manure is an excellent way to improve soil on a larger site. Consecutive years of green-manuring have helped turn very poor soils into rich ground. It’s a super problem-solver where gardens are being created in heavy clay because, for example, the deep rooting of green-manure plants helps open up dense subsoils.

Those with newly built homes on infertile earth, on cut and fill sites, and on former forest ground, will find the ground lacking in nutrients. To make it suitable for vegetable crops and landscaping in the future, plant a cover crop this fall.

A great resource for learning all the benefits of green manure is This Nebraska-based website is focused on organic-market gardeners. It details some of the most common legumes, such as hairy vetch and crimson clover. Each plant has an extensive fact sheet.

Above all, the company offers seed for the amazing “Nitro radish” (Raphanus sativus), which produces such a deep fat root that it’s ideal for opening up superheavy clays. This is an alternative to what farmers call “deep tillage” for the enhanced drainage done with tractors and specialty implements.

Planting Nitro radish directly into the remnants of this year’s crops achieves similar results without disturbing the soil in a process called “bio-drilling.” The main root can reach 20 inches long, and its smaller taproot goes down 6 feet. Residues of this plant are well-known to release many nutrients, adding as much as 100 pounds of nitrogen per acre in the spring. 

As your garden fizzles in these shorter days of fall, consider sowing an experimental crop on your garden ground. It’s the lazy gardener’s path to fertility. Green manures don’t let your ground lie fallow all winter, but enrich it.

Maureen Gilmer is an author, horticulturist and landscape designer. Learn more at Contact her at or PO Box 891, Morongo Valley, CA 92256.

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City of Surrey insists eco-friendly raised-bed gardens are ‘unsightly’

The City of Surrey wants Jess Thompson and Cindy Quach’s “unsightly� garden to be removed, despite the garden’s health benefits to their family and environmental perks to their community.

In the summer, Thompson and Quach started a hügelkultur garden on their rented one-acre property in the 8300-block of 168th Street. Hügelkultur is a European farming technique that has proven to be a popular method sustainable food gardening.

“You bury biomass at the base before you warm the bed — you would take things such as branches, leaves, tree trunks, and then put your growing medium over top,� said Quach.

“Over time, the biomass decomposes and releases heat and nutrients.�

The garden provides fresh fruits and vegetables for them and their two children while also preventing the growth of hogweed, an invasive plant with sap that can cause long-lasting blisters, scars and even blindness.

Following hügelkultur methods, the couple mowed down the hogweed, suppressed it with recycled coconut husk, put woodchips on top and created raised bed gardens around their house.

But despite the prevention of hogweed growth, neighbours have complained to the city’s bylaw and licensing department about the garden. Nearby residents initially raised a stink over, well, the stink of the manure when it was first brought in.

“When the woodchips and the manure were freshly delivered onto the property — before the beds were actually built – that was when the complaints started coming in to bylaws,� said Quach. “Before we even had a chance to level out the piles to form the garden beds, the bylaw officer came and looked at the place.�

The smell subsided once the manure was worked into the garden beds, but Quach said there were still complaints to the bylaw department that their garden is an eyesore.

“Initially, (the officer) said, ‘Oh, that’s fantastic, you’re doing the neighbourhood a favour,’� she recalled. “But then a week went by and I suppose more complaints came in to bylaws and we were served with this letter that the property is not in compliance with the unsightly bylaw.�

Thompson and Quach were given 22 days to remedy the infraction under the Unsightly Premises Bylaw, which outlines such criteria as accumulation of refuse, damaged landscaping and broken fencing as reasons a property can be unsightly. They said they called the officer for clarification and were told that levelling out the piles would put them in compliance with the bylaw.

“We levelled it out, we formed our beds, he came back and he was not satisfied,� she said. “They were expecting flat beds, but we’re doing a hügelkultur bed.�

The garden beds resemble small, brown hills made up of bark mulch and soil. Neighbours have also complained about the height of the garden, but Thompson and Quach have noted that, given time to grow, the hills will compress in size while becoming leafy and green in colour.

“The unfortunate thing is there’s no neighbourly communication,� said Quach. “We could have had a chance to explain it to them, but instead of talking to us, they called bylaws instead.�

Thompson added, “They just saw material coming in and they didn’t understand what it was, but they never asked us.�

Furthermore, Thompson and Quach’s property is fenced and surrounded on most sides by trees, including large evergreens lining the front yard along 168th Street. Quach said most people would have to make an effort to see their “unsightly� garden, and Thompson noted that neighbours in support of their garden are wondering why the city isn’t targeting other dilapidated houses in the area.

“There’s one down the street that’s getting hit with graffiti quite a bit,� said Thompson. “When they see an unsightly property, there’s ‘obviously unsightly’ and then there’s somebody trying to do a garden.�

The couple has a petition with about 90 signatures from residents in favour of the garden, as well as verbal praise from the Ministry of Environment and a letter of support from Bob Boyd, a longtime public health inspector with Fraser Health.

“The hügelkultur or raised bed/mound is ideal for urban and suburban lots,� reads Boyd’s letter, noting that the garden falls in line with the City of Surrey’s green movement by conserving water, recycling, composting and eating a 100-mile diet. “These days, when we are constantly hearing about going ‘green,’ growing food in your backyard should be encouraged.�

Jas Rehal, manager of bylaw enforcement with the city, wouldn’t comment on the specifics of the infraction, but said the investigation is ongoing and that the city is working with the owners on a solution.

Ultimately, Thompson and Quach picked hügelkultur gardening as their remedy for hogweed because it was cost-effective, eco-friendly and low maintenance, while also producing more than 90 per cent of their vegetables. If they’re forced to remove their garden, it will be costly and the hogweed will grow back in the area.

The couple hopes to present to the agricultural advisory committee on their situation.

Read more Surrey stories at

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Architectural elements of classical design in Jiangsu

Classical gardens in Jiangsu province were mostly built adjacent to private residences. The past owners of the gardens were usually retired government officials, who took the natural landscape as their model for creating artistic garden scenery. They would invite the social elite to gatherings in their gardens.

The gardens were therefore, in effect, a continuation of the living space, which gave rise to the practice of a lifestyle of leisure and refined pursuits sought by intellectuals.

This preference featured idealized routines of daily life, including reading, painting, writing and reading out poetry, playing music, tasting tea and wine, playing chess and banqueting.

The practical nature of garden living hence required the gardens to be functional with architectural structures of a great variety, all designed to be in tune with the grace of the natural landscape of the garden.

As such, the crafting of classical gardens was designed to create a utilitarian as well as aesthetic living space where the natural and manmade worlds were closely incorporated. The following aspects were all considered:

1. Water features

Some garden designers used water features as the theme of the garden. Bodies of water located in the middle of the garden were surrounded by pavilions and halls connected by verandas. Small bridges crossed the water to provide easy access. In a large pond, it was advisable to add some islets.

Situated near the Yangtze River, Jiangsu has the advantage of easy access to the river to build water features. In addition to artistic concerns, the ponds and streams were also used to provide irrigation and lessen the risk of fire.

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