|NEWS OF THE MONTH FROM THE TARRYTOWN ENVIRONMENTAL ADVISORY COUNCIL
|LOVE YOUR VILLAGE
PARTICIPATING IN TEAC IS EASY!
______________________The Tarrytown Environmental Advisory Council (TEAC) relies on volunteers to keep things moving. We’re a fun and engaging group of like-minded citizens working to make Tarrytown’s air, land, lakes and river healthier and cleaner.Our monthly meeting will be held in person at the Village Hall. It’s this Thursday, February 2, at 7pm. We will also try to have a Zoom option: Click Here! If any of our committee topics interest you, or if you just want to learn more about what we do, please feel free to join us!
INVASIVE STRIKE FORCE: THE VINE SQUAD NEEDS YOU!
by Rachel Tieger, TEAC Co-Chair
The Tarrytown Environmental Advisory Council is seeking volunteers to join its Volunteer Vine Squad to help remove invasive vines around the Tarrytown Lakes and in public parks. Sturdy boots, long sleeves, and gloves are recommended. If you own garden tools for pruning and trimming, bring them along (although we also supply a range of tools). Training will be provided.
The team meets on the first and third Saturdays of the month.
Our first two workdays were a huge success (see our recent team photo at the top of this newsletter!). We had many volunteers working together to free native trees from invasive, strangling vines. There was a great sense of comradery as we all worked together toward one goal. Mayor Brown even stopped by to say hello on the first date.
We were lucky with sunny, mild weather on both dates, but we will be prepared to work in colder and less idyllic conditions in the future.
Our next date is February 4th and we will be working at the Tarrytown Lakes, meeting at the Lakes Parking Lot on Neperan road at 10am. Community Service Hours will be awarded. Sign up Here.
______________________By Dean Gallea, TEAC Co-Chair
Electric delivery costs (and a geeky way to calculate your electricity use pattern)
As with natural gas, Con Edison charges you a rate – cost per kWh of electricity – for delivering energy to your home.
Over the last couple of weeks, Con Ed has been sending emails to customers promoting an alternative billing option for delivery, called “time-of use” (ToU) rates. This opt-in choice is made possible by the “smart” meters that were installed a few years ago, that report your electric usage on an hour-by-hour basis, rather than just through monthly readings.
The way time-of-use works:
Each hour, Con Ed multiplies your electricity use in kWh by one of four rates, determined by the date (summer or not) and time (peak or not), instead of a fixed rate.
Summer is June 1 through September 30, Peak is 8am until midnight.
The rates used are shown in the first table HERE; essentially, ToU delivery rates go up (double the normal rate!) during Summer peak hours, but are lower than normal rates at all other times.
The basis is that, with ToU, if you can use less electricity during Summer peak hours, or shift your usage to off-peak, you might be able to capitalize on the drastically-lower non-Summer off-peak rate.
Remember, this variable rate is only for your electricity delivery, NOT your supply rate, which doesn’t vary by time-of-use (and is fixed for almost the next two years, for those of us who have not opted out of the Westchester Power CCA.)
So, here’s the rub with ToU: Con Ed could have gone an extra step and provided a way for each customer to learn, based on their own usage, whether or not they would likely save money by opting in to ToU rates. Lacking that insight, the move is a gamble.
Though you might try to shift some Summer usage to the after-midnight hours, it’s not as easy as it sounds. Except for things like charging an electric car, or setting your electric heat-pump to use more moderate temperatures at night, not many of your energy-using appliances have built-in time shifting. But perhaps you already have an electricity use pattern over the year that would save money with time-of-use rates. How can you know?
Well, I wanted to find out for myself, so I created a tool that Con Ed should have given us. Unfortunately, it needs the hourly data from the electric use “heatmap” provided by Logical Buildings only to Grid Rewards sign-ups.
What I found was that, indeed, I would have saved about $300 in 2022 if I had been on the time-of-use rates. But I am unusual, in that I have an EV that I charge exclusively at night, which shifts my usage to off-peak times, and I have solar panels that reduce my peak-time electric usage moderately in the Summer. What keeps me from switching to ToU is that I also belong to a Con Ed program called “Smart Charge NY”, that already rewards EV owners for nighttime charging, and my benefit from this in 2022 was almost exactly the same as what I would have saved with ToU. And you can’t be on BOTH programs. 😉
If you are interested in trying my tool to evaluate your own usage pattern over a year’s time, and are a member of Grid Rewards, and have some Microsoft Excel chops, let me know at email@example.com, and I’ll get in touch with you.
WINTER AT HILLTOP HANOVER FARM
By Cynthia Stegman, with staff contributions
As a gardener turned honorary farmer, I had a special opportunity several years ago of collaborating with Hilltop Hanover Farm through TEAC volunteerism, by way of a native plants donation that now lives in Patriot’s Park; now, I am thrilled to work as the farm’s Food Donation + Volunteer Coordinator and pave the way for others to be involved and support the mission of this unique hilltop and enjoy all that it has to offer year-round.
Hilltop Hanover Farm is a working agricultural farm and environmental education center in Yorktown Heights. It has a rich history of hosting prize winning breeds of cows, horses and sheep that dates back to the 1780s: this has left the fields incredibly fertile, largely due to the ruminants who grazed it and the effort to preserve the land and its immediate surroundings from development.
Robust educational classes, a living native seed bank, an evolving food security initiative, and a seasonal on-site farm stand selling produce grown right just a few hundred feet away are all hallmarks of the farm’s current iteration.
Winter has kept up its momentum here as staff still work through the daylight and dark, though now we race to beat the afternoon sunset rather than the morning sunrise. Like many places, the winter is a time of preparation so that the growing season starts off on the right foot. We have been busy all across the hilltop, from cooking our compost system, to renovating structures and cleaning the perimeters of trash and invasives.
Fresh Vegetables and Flowers
Staff and volunteers are working hard to reinforce and clean our greenhouse and high tunnel, which are crucial to ensure there is produce as soon as possible. Seeds will be sown soon, in mid-February, and organically raised vegetables will be ready for enjoyment in May when the Farm Stand re-opens, stocked with freshly harvested produce alongside curated offerings from local and regional food partners. Our unique market-style CSA memberships will be available to purchase online starting March 1st, which include special perks at the farm stand and beyond.
For home or community gardens, our annual Spring Plant Sale is a popular way to provide lovingly-grown Hilltop vegetable + flower seedlings for your own space, already hardy and primed for success. Pre-orders will begin on February 1st and seedlings will be ready for pickup the weekend of May 7th. We have already started hand-writing the thousands of labels needed for this endeavor and always welcome helpers, it’s a great way to keep our hands busy until they can be back in the dirt!
We welcome our community to volunteer year round and learn a little bit more about the farm’s history and growing practices, with different opportunities each season. Saturday volunteer opportunities are offered as Community Work Days once a month, year-round, for bigger tasks that are easier with many hands; upcoming dates include 2/18 and 3/18.
Regular Friday volunteer hours are currently offered as we tackle removing dormant invasives, weeds, and refuse along our pasture and field fences: with 10 acres of growing fields and 6 acres of pasture, that’s a lot of fence to cover! Soak up the sun and join us as we make our way along these important boundaries. Once plantlife is back in the growing fields, we invite volunteers to join us as we weed, harvest, wash + pack up produce, and weed again! We can grow so much more with your help.
Native Plant Program
Winter is keeping our Native Plant program busy with seed cleaning and winter seed sowing, including cold stratifying. We wild-collected over 50 new native species, which will go towards new seed plots and Westchester County restoration projects in 2023. Most of the seeds are cleaned by hand, but can now finish the process with our new seed winnower machine. Winter has not slowed down for this program at Hilltop! Fortunately, we have a great native plant team and a group of dedicated volunteers to get it all done.
Classes and Events
Winter education at Hilltop is mostly community-based. Prior to school visits picking back up, we focus on exploring the winter world with public offerings like guided hikes and navigation classes, building connections through crafting and music jam sessions, and sharing the wealth of knowledge of our farm team with visitors — through seed and soup swaps, hands-on natives workshops, and soon, greenhouse and growing classes. We still fill the farm with youthful energy through homeschool groups and spring break camps, but mostly, we’re waiting for the warmth to return, too!
You can visit our website to learn more: hilltophanoverfarm.org
We hope to see you at the farm soon.
A DO-IT-YOURSELF ALL-PURPOSE CLEANER
By Annie Kravet, TEAC Member
Here’s a simple way to make an effective all purpose cleaning spray with items you may already have around the house.
This single bottle of vinegar can replace many plastic-bottled cleaners by using the cleaner “recipe” below.
A great way to cut down on your plastic waste is to buy less products that come in plastic bottles.
One switch you can make is changing from buying cleaning products to making your own with simple ingredients at home. Another bonus: you will also save money and cut down on exposure to potentially toxic ingredients in store bought cleaners.
A spray bottle (you can reuse one after using up the product that came inside, or buy a glass spray bottle – Refill Room in Hastings carries these)
One part warm water
One part white vinegar
Mix the water and vinegar together in a spray bottle.
That’s it! The vinegar smell will disappear once the area you clean is dry. You can add a few drops of an essential oil if you want a fresh scent, like lemon or peppermint.
The only surface you want to stay away from with this cleaner is granite and marble, because the vinegar can dull the counter top. To clean a granite countertop, you can make a gentle cleaning solution with water and about a tablespoon of liquid castile soap.
|Save the Date:
EARTH MONTH SNEAK PEEK
TEAC is busy planning Earth Month and will have events every weekend in April. Some of the scheduled activities will include: a Village wide Clean-up day, vines clearing, a screening of “The Story of Plastic,” seed swapping, kids activities, a nature walk and More!
For the Village wide Clean-up, we’re looking for neighborhood champions to lead clean-ups across the village. If you’re interested, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
John Francis, “Planetwalker”
By Rachel Tieger, TEAC Co-Chair
Dr. John Francis, aka “The Planetwalker”. Witnessing an oil spill in San Francisco Bay, he gave up the use of motor vehicles and decided to walk instead.
Because we all can get discouraged and wonder if our small actions can really make a notable impact on the environment, TEAC would like to spotlight John Francis, aka “The Planetwalker,” to give us all some inspiration.
His story: After witnessing an oil spill in San Francisco Bay, Dr. John Francis chose to travel the United States for 22 years without the use of motorized vehicles to raise awareness for the needs of our environment. He spent most of that time walking and also spent 17 years not speaking and cultivating his listening skills. Through it all, he earned a Ph.D. in land resources from the University of Wisconsin at Madison .
He believes the way we treat each other is a mechanism for how we treat the Earth. John Francis became National Geographic Society’s first Education Fellow in 2010. He is the program director for Planetwalk, a nonprofit environmental awareness organization. He aims to educate people about the physical environment as well as the human one.
For more about his life, check out his TED Talk .
 – https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/02/black-environmentalists-justice-climate-change/
 – https://urbangreenlab.org/black-environmentalists/
|VEGAN RECIPE OF THE MONTH:
FARMERS MARKET WINTER SALAD RECIPE WITH TEMPEH “CROUTONS” (and wine pairing suggestions!)
By Rachel Tieger, TEAC Co-Chair
In case you haven’t heard, the TaSH winter farmers market is in full bloom the second and fourth Saturday of the month at the John Paulding school now through April. The new indoor location has been a blessing to both shoppers and vendors, who love the farmers market experience, but don’t love frozen greens and frostbitten toes.
Although it was an unseasonably warm and gorgeous day this past Saturday, the second TaSH indoor market welcomed almost 1200 excited shoppers! The wide variety of offerings were well curated and eclectic, and shoppers left with overflowing totes. The produce selection was obviously more limited than at the summer market, but there were plenty of colorful, freshly harvested offerings.
This simple recipe makes a perfect light meal or side dish and takes about 10 minutes to prepare. Feel free to add or omit ingredients to suit your personal palate.
1 small to medium head of finely sliced Napa Cabbage
1 medium purple daikon radish, grated or thinly peeled
2 carrots, grated or thinly peeled
¼ cup shelled boiled peanuts or toasted sunflower seeds
Fresh cilantro, green onions or lime wedges for garnish
Tempeh or Tofu Croutons: Sliced tempeh or tofu which is lightly tossed with sesame oil and soy sauce and then baked in a toaster oven for 8 minutes until lightly brown. Can leave out or substitute your favorite croutons.
Wisk all of the dressing ingredients in a small saucepan and let warm up for 5 minutes to let the flavors marry.
Meanwhile, chop the napa horizontally into thin slices and place a medium salad bowl. Using a potato peeler, add paper thin slices of purple or white daikon and/or carrot to the bowl. Alternatively, you could use a box grater. Add the sunflower seeds or boiled peanuts. Spoon most of the warm dressing over the salad and combine thoroughly.
Plate up and add 2 or 3 slices of tempeh or 4 or 5 chunks of tofu to each bowl and top with a little of the remaining dressing.
Garnish plates with fresh cilantro, thinly sliced green onion and/or fresh lime wedge
Pair with a fruit forward aromatic white wine like a Riesling, Chenin blanc, Gruner Veltliner or Albarino. Or if you are in the mood for red wine, try a fresh and youthful red with little to no oak aging. A Gamay based wine would be perfect but a young Tempranillo or Grenache could pair well. Enjoy!