April 22 is International Earth Day. It all started in 1970 in the US as the first major public effort in the modern environmental movement. That first Earth Day brought focus to a growing concern about our environment inspired in part by the publication of Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring several years earlier and the increasing volume of citizen concerns about oil spills, toxic dumps, the use of pesticides, the loss of wilderness and wildlife, and the sense brought back by our lunar astronauts that we lived on a beautiful blue marble all alone in the unfathomable vastness of space.

This emerging environmental consciousness not only brought the issue to the public’s attention but also exploded into the political arena. 1970 culminated with the forming of the US Environmental Protection Agency with a mission to protect human health and the environment. In the following years the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act – among others – were signed into law. Wow – what a difference a day makes! That oversimplifies things, of course. The progress protecting human health and that of the environment has been hard fought, slow, and cumulatively upward.

Climate Smart communities
So here we are, 51 years later and hundreds of millions around the world will be celebrating Earth Day. In Millerton, NY, Earth Day is sponsored by the North East/Millerton Climate Smart Task Force. What’s that, you say? Interestingly, New York State is a leader in the national effort to reduce greenhouse gases and help communities adapt to climate change. The Village of Millerton and the Town of North East are among several hundred municipalities around the state that have signed up to be Climate Smart Communities. They’ve appointed a Task Force whose members volunteer to help us become more resilient in the face of volatile weather events, find ways to save energy, and protect our natural environment. We’ve already received several grants from the State to help
in this work and as time passes, we’ll receive many more.

Restore Our Earth
Earth Days are a teaching moment, with a theme. This year the theme is “Restore Our Earth.” It’s a moment to pause and appreciate all the natural resources in our amazing community. There are a number of virtual events spread over a few days. Saturday, April 24 is the day to visit the Village for safe in-person events. Our merchants will hang out flags and bedeck their stores with flowers. Close enough to first day of Spring, it marks (we hope!) a safe turning point into the warmer seasons. The easiest way to find out what’s happening is to go to the new ClimateSmartMillerton.org website. You’ll find everything there including a schedule and a map. Millerton merchants and the Town/Village Library will have flyers with all the details.

Highlights for April 24
Did you know that we are home to a significant regional composting operation – McEnroe’s on Coleman Station Road? It mixes plant-based food waste (think apple cores, olive pits, banana peels) with leaves, animal manure, and cow bedding that over time make a nutrient-rich addition for our gardens. McEnroe’s will open the gates for us to get up close to the fascinating biological process that makes organic plant fertilizer. To see what farmers grow and how they grow it, several local farms have agreed to welcome families for a visit. Some of them are regular vendors at our intrepid Millerton Farmers Market. The Farmers Market will be celebrating Earth Day by moving outdoors (Mother Nature permitting) to launch the beginning of the fresh-air season. North East Ford, the dealership just east of the Village, will host a pop-up glimpse of our future: a 2021 Mustang Mach-E SUV, Ford’s first fully electric vehicle. You can sit in it on the 24 and imagine rolling down the highway as environmentally pretty as you please. But if you want a test drive, you will have to arrange a later date. You’ll find the car on Century Boulevard right where the Village will soon be installing its first Electric Vehicle Charging Station – thanks to a grant from New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation.

For the youth, from toddlers to young readers, Oblong Books & Music will provide good reads in the Jr. section downstairs. Adults go upstairs, on the main floor, and look for the Read Green section. Then walk up the street to Millerton Wine & Spirits for a taste of organic wine – just adults, please. Pitch in and help restore our earth yourself. Pick up a packet of seeds of native plants at the Library, then walk down Main Street and take a workshop in home composting at The Dig. You’ll be all set to plant them a few weeks later, after the last frost in May. Or you can actually sponsor the planting of a new tree. Join the campaign to plant 100 trees at Eddie Collins Memorial Park. Stop in at any shop in Millerton and make a contribution. Our beloved but somewhat decrepit Park is being revitalized from top to bottom. Construction begins later this spring and will include planting dozens and dozens of shade trees and flowering trees – all native, adaptable to climate change, and good hosts to birds and insects. Oblong Books & Music is donating 10% of its sales that weekend to the purchase of a tree. $600 buys a good sized tree, plants it, and provides maintenance
for a year!

Feel like a little yard work? Our North East Community Center’s Teen Team and students from Webutuck are leading a spring cleaning effort to pick up trash on the Rail Trail and prepare the Community Garden for planting. Feel free to join them. How about starting the day refreshed and truly awake? Moonwake Yoga and Healing Studio is offering an earth focused yoga class.
For those comfortable with Zoom, the Library is offering a number of wonderful talks and readings. Some are on the official Earth Day itself, April 22, and not to be missed.

Let’s give a round of applause for Mother Earth. We’ll see you virtually or in Millerton on April 24, no matter the weather!

Use this QR Code to visit Climate Smart’s Earth Day Site

Or Check out events, details, and times at climatesmartmillerton.org

By Jennifer Dowley

Jennifer Dowley is a North East/Millerton Climate Smart Task Force member. Climatesmartmillerton.org will give you details about Earth Day and other Climate Smart projects.

McEnroe’s Presents a Behind the Scenes look at Composting

What could be a better way to celebrate Earth Day this coming weekend than to learn of the many ways in which you can help Mother Earth yourself? That’s exactly what visitors to Millerton can expect to experience this weekend when McEnroe’s Organic Farm will host tours of its compost facility on Coleman Station Road. On Saturday, from 10am to 1pm, prospective composters are invited to McEnroe’s to learn how banana peels, apple cores and cow bedding mix over time to make a nutritious blend for home gardens. 

Compost is organic material that can be added to soil to help plants grow. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), food scraps and yard waste together currently make up more than 30 percent of what we throw away, and could be composted instead. Making compost keeps these materials out of landfills where they take up space and release methane, a potent greenhouse gas. The massive composting facility at McEnroe’s receives manures, leaves and food waste, all of which is organically converted to a high quality soil amendment in the form of what has been deemed by the environmental masses as “compost”. Compost Manager Matthew Hamm and his team at McEnroe’s dedicate the majority of the compost they produce to the farm’s greenhouses, cold frames and fields to promote healthy soil and vigorous plant growth. Food scraps and organic waste from the farm then return to the composting facility to become compost and soil, so nothing on the farm is wasted. Keeping food waste out of landfills reduces methane emissions, and compost draws Carbon out of the atmosphere and into the soil, where it belongs.

In order to promote composting at home and across our region, McEnroe’s will be opening its compost facility to the public in order for those looking to up their garden game while saving the planet in the process to get an up close look into the fascinating biological process that makes organic plant fertilizer. According the folks at McEnroe’s, the main ingredient in any premium compost blend (which are available at the farm in 40 lb. retail bags) is a slow releasing fertilizer and live soil amendment. Healthy compost adds organic matter and increases the biological activity of soil. McEnroe’s compost has an excellent tilth and improves soil structure; it also increases the soil’s ability to hold water and nutrients. The farm’s compost is also great for turning sandy or clay soils into garden beds and agricultural fields. It can be used as a top dressing for landscaping, lawns, and container plants or as mulch for perennial garden beds, trees, and shrubs. Compost can be great for creating no-till beds too. Whatever your home gardening passions are, be it a green thumb or a keen sense for the importance of zero-waste organic processes, Saturday’s event affords the opportunity for the local gardener to expand their knowledge while beautifying their own backyards. 

McEnroe’s Compost Facility tours will take place on Saturday, April 24 from 10am-1pm at 194 Coleman Station Road in Millerton New York.

For more information on each Earth Day event taking place this weekend, visit climatesmartmillerton.org/earthday2021

Earth Day Fun to be Had at Willow Brook Farm

Local families visiting Millerton this weekend to join the village’s Earth Day celebration will be sure to find a bit of festive fun when they travel just outside of town to Willow Brook Farm. The fourth-generation dairy farm owned and operated by the Beneke family has become a local landmark thanks to its charming Farm Store as well as its famous corn maze that carves its way through the landscape each fall. This coming Saturday, from 2pm-3:30pm Willow Brook will be offering tours of the farm as well as up-close and personal visits with two very special oxen. In addition to exploring rolling farm hills and the one-of-a-kind farm store located just of Route 22 north of the village of Millerton, Jason Culver of Farmscapes, will demo fossil fuel free farm work at Willow Brook featuring bovine friends Tom and Jerry. Helping to bring unused farmland back into production, Millerton’s Farmscapes Land Management provides grass feed beef, hay, vegetables, CSA SHARES, custom crop work, livestock fencing, land clearing, and brush mowing to locals in search of sustainability.

Beyond the upcoming demonstration, Willow Brook Farm itself offers a number attractions spanning the entire farm. With a view of a small but lively duck pond and the scenic, open air fields outside the Village of Millerton, Willow Brook Farms has been a family business since it was first purchased back in 1943. Seven years ago, Willow Brook opened its Farm Store and today, continues to sell their own pork, beef, eggs, the ever-popular sweet corn, gourmet groceries, a variety of cheese, local vegetables, fruit and gifts for the entire family. In addition to their growing farm stand, the Beneke family has opened its entire farm to the public offering tours of the acres of farmland and a unique look at the day-to-day operations of a modern, family-run, dairy farm. The growing popularity of Willow Brook Farm is proof that dedication to craft and fervent passion for providing generational quality is what drives local agriculture and the surrounding community has taken notice.

To experience Willow Brook Farm for yourself and enjoy Farmscapes’ demonstration featuring Tom and Jerry, stop by the farm at 196 Old Post Road 4 in Millerton, NY this Saturday, April 24, from 2pm-3:30pm

For more information visit thefarmstoreatwillowbrook.com

Tom and Jerry, who belong to Jason Culver of Farmscapes, will help demo fossil fuel free farm work at Willow Brook this weekend.

North East Ford Shows off the Future of Electric Vehicles For Earth Day

The path toward a fully-electric future can no longer be described as uncharted in the world of motor vehicles. Over the past year, potential new partnerships between automakers and Electric Vehicle (EV) start-ups have been forged and advancements in battery range and heightened government efforts to reduce CO2 emissions have substantially progressed. For the Ford Motor Company, the second-largest US-based automaker and the fifth-largest in the world as well as one of the oldest companies in the nation, its new lineup of all-electric vehicles offer an efficient and exhilarating driving experience. In an effort to put themselves at the forefront of the future of electric vehicles, the historic automaker has fully committed to an eco-friendly approach not just for its compact cars, but for the iconic mustang and fully-loaded pickup trucks as well.

In the spirit of a new and fresh philosophy geared toward greener efficiency, North East Ford in Millerton, NY, will be showing off these two state-of-the-art vehicles this coming Saturday, April 24, as part of the village’s Earth Day celebration. “At North East Ford, we are very excited to be part of the future,” says Chris Talbot, salesman for the local dealership. “Part of that future is to introduce as many area locals to these new vehicles, and Millerton’s Earth Day event provides us with an excellent opportunity to do just that.” Both Ford’s new Mustang Mach-E as well as the new Ford F-150 Hybrid will be on display for public viewing on Century Boulevard starting at 9am. The Mustang Mach-E delivers three unique drive experiences – Whisper, Engage and Unbridled – each offering finely tuned driving dynamics packaged with a distinct sensory experience. Features include custom-designed vehicle responsiveness such as sportier steering controls, ambient lighting, sounds tuned for an authentic all-electric experience, and dynamic cluster animations that are tied to driving behavior. Still, it retains the dynamic performance fans have become accustomed to taking less than half a second to reach peak acceleration. Similarly, the F-150 pickup truck retains some familiarity while delivering eco-efficiency as the PowerBoost hybrid pairs Ford’s twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6 with a 47-hp electric motor, making this the highest-output power-train in the current F-150 lineup. “The F-150 features an onboard generator,” says Talbot. “Meaning owners can run electric from the vehicle while on the job-site and the engine powers on and off automatically to charge the truck’s battery.”

General Sales Manager William Bohan echoes similar sentiments as Talbot who will be scheduling test drives for anyone interested during the showcase event. “This is the first year we will be partaking in Millerton’s Earth Day celebration,” says Mr.Bohan. “Being relatively new to the village (North East Ford is enjoying its third year under new management) we are honored to be part of such a proactive community. As an avid hiker and member of the Catskill 3500 club, I am especially excited to be a part of Earth Day here in Millerton.” Millerton’s North East Ford is one of the few dealerships in the area to feature charging stations on location, with two currently installed and two more planned in the coming months. 

Stop by Century Boulevard this Saturday at 9am to check out Ford’s all new electric lineup and sign up for your free test drive!

For more information about North East Ford, northeastfordmillerton.com