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Greening Together environmental fair returns

Greening Together, which is the annual celebration of all things sustainable – and which was squashed last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic – is poised to bounce back in a series of events to coincide with Earth Week, which is April 24-30.

The free events range from Celebrate Trails Day on April 24, to learning about organic lawn care techniques and steps that can be taken to reduce one’s carbon footprint, and how to generate as little household waste as possible.

Sustainable Lawrence and Sustainable Princeton, along with the green teams from West Windsor Township, Hopewell Valley and Trenton, are sponsoring the events. They belong to the Mercer County Sustainability Coalition.

Greening Together is a hybrid event that replaces the annual Green Fest at Rider University, said Pam Mount, one of the event organizers. She is a member of Sustainable Lawrence, which sponsored the first sustainability fair in Mercer County in 2006. The event has grown and evolved into a countywide fair.

“For the last four years, the Mercer County Sustainability Coalition held the Green Fest at Rider University, but we had to cancel it last year because Rider was locked down (in response to the pandemic). It was sad not to have it,” Mount said.

Greening Together, which is the new name for Green Fest, will feature a mix of hands-on and virtual events, Mount said. All events are free, but participants must register the online talks at www.mercersustainabilitycoalition.org.

Greening Together kicks off April 24 with Celebrate Trails Day. People can take a walk on the Lawrence Hopewell Trail – a pedestrian and bicycle trail that connects Lawrence and Hopewell townships – or visit one of the parks in the Mercer County park system. This includes the Mercer Meadows/Pole Farm park on Cold Soil Road in Lawrence.

Also on April 24, Sustainable Princeton is holding a sustainable landscaping mini-expo at the Princeton Shopping Center from noon to 3 p.m. Attendees can learn about organic lawn care techniques and electric landscaping equipment. It is an outdoor, in-person event.

The remainder of the week’s events are online.

Climate change – its impact and steps that attendees can take to minimize their own carbon footprint – will be presented by Sustainable Lawrence on April 25. Speakers include a representative from the New Jersey Clean Energy Program and the founder of C-Change, who will talk about the science of global climate change.

The Hopewell Valley and West Windsor green teams are joining forces April 26 to explain how to conduct a home waste audit, and steps that attendees can take to minimize the amount of waste they generate in their daily activities. Topics include plastic-free living, reuseable gift bags and how to turn food and yard waste into compost.

Trenton’s Green Team will talk about plans for transit-oriented development, Complete Streets programs and an electric vehicle mobility program in a seminar set for April 27. The topic is Clean Transportation in the Capital City Region.

Water – flooding and its impact on water quality – is the topic for April 28, sponsored by the Lawrence Township Environmental and Green Advisory Committee, the Friends of Colonial Lake Park and The Watershed Institute.

Mount said that a documentary, “From a Creek and a Meadow,” which tells the story of Lawrence Township’s Colonial Lake and the Shabakunk Creek, will lend a local neighborhood perspective.

“Colonial Lake advocate Tom Ritter’s documentary paints a vivid picture of the strong bond that the residents of the Lakelands neighborhood have had with Colonial Lake Park and Colonial Lake for the last 97 years,” Mount said.

Green Infrastructure in Your Neighborhood is the topic for April 29, and a follow-up to the previous day’s session on flooding and its impact on water quality. It is also being presented by the Lawrence Township Environmental and Green Advisory Committee and The Watershed Institute.

Speakers from The Watershed Institute will explain how homeowners and neighborhoods can use trees, plants and soil to capture and clean polluted storm water runoff in their own back yards.

For family-friendly fun April 29, Rider University’s eco-reps will challenge participants to test their “green knowledge” in a fun and friendly way in the Ultimate Green Trivia Kahoot.

Wrapping  up the week’s events April 30, attendees can learn how to identify the spotted lanternfly and the damage that the insect causes to trees and plants. They will learn how to deal with the insect when they see it. A representative from the Mercer County Park Commission will lead the discussion.

And for children, there will be a presentation called “Trees are Terrific” by a representative from the Mercer County Park Commission. Children will learn to identify tree species, based on the tree’s bark, leaves and other characteristics.

” ‘Greening Together’ will be a creative, unique and different event. People can get involved who never got involved before. Being able to choose from Zoom lectures is a good way to get information out to people,” Mount said.

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