As the days get longer — you’re getting one more minute of daylight per day in January! — it’s not too early to plan your garden to maximize habitat and minimize invasives. Learn how to lower your energy bills with our EnergySmart Homes partnership, then learn how to live in a warming world. Oh, and join our online meeting Thursday evening, January 6 at 7:00! Details are below.

PARTICIPATING IN TEAC IS EASY… JUST COME TO A MEETING!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 next meeting will be held via Zoom, Thursday, January 6, at 7pm.

This month, hear about landscaping at Sarah Michaels Park, the EnergySmart Homes Campaign, our film series starting in February, and more.

If any of our committee topics interest you, or you just want to learn more about what we do, please feel free to join us!

Zoom Link: Click Here!


By Mai Mai Margules

It’s January, let’s get our gardens going!  Although it may seem counterintuitive, January is the prime month for planting native plant seeds here in the Northeast. Seeds of favorite natives such as milkweed, anise hyssop, echinacea and a multitude of others need to go through a period of  “cold stratification” to germinate.

Stratification is a built-in mechanism that tells seeds when it is safe to germinate. In nature, most plants produce seed in the summer once the plants have flowered. If these seeds were to germinate immediately the seedlings would struggle through the heat of summer and enter winter as small and vulnerable, unlikely to survive.

If, however, the seed waited until the following spring to germinate it would have much better growing conditions and a full season to grow and adapt before winter.

Native seeds are intelligent: they will ONLY germinate after they have gone through several months exposure to cold and wet weather, i.e. winter. In winter, moisture-fiilled seeds freeze and thaw, breaking down the outer seed coat and allowing them to sprout when things warm up in the spring. Typically, it takes 30 – 60 days of cold/ wet stratification for successful germination.

It would seem logical to plant native seeds directly in the ground in the fall, emulating nature.  In nature, however, most seeds have a very low survival rate. Hungry animals will eat them, many will blow into areas where they can’t grow and are crowded out by invasives, and in our own gardens we may forget where we planted and disturb them.

A really good method for successfully starting native seeds is to sow seeds in recycled plastic containers, plug trays, or pots ( at least 3’ deep) with a clear cover or hardware cloth for added protection.  Be sure to create drainage and ventilation holes on the bottom and lids of the containers. Fill the containers with 3 or more inches of potting soil and then press the seeds into the soil.

Stratifying seeds in plastic containers (recycled). Photo courtesy Ecological Landscape Alliance

It’s always good to google seeds before planting for specific instructions.  Some natives such as milkweed need light to germinate so barely cover these with soil.

Water lightly, label, tape your containers shut and put them outdoors for the winter. Rain and snow will provide moisture by filtering into the containers. In the spring your seeds will begin to germinate and you can open the lids as the weather warms to acclimate the growing plants.

You can carefully transplant seedlings to larger pots or inground spaces once all chance of frost has passed and they are growing well. Be sure not to damage the root system, especially with plants such as milkweed which has a deep tap root. Native plants tend to grow slower than many of our common annuals and put most of their energy into establishing strong root systems initially. For this reason you might want to keep the seedlings potted and put them in the ground in the early fall when they have had time to really become established and the heat of summer is waning. The following spring you will be rewarded with a strong and healthy plot of natives!

Open seed containers in spring. Photo courtesy Ecological Landscape Alliance

I used this method successfully after being walked through the steps at Bedford’s Healthy Yards Winter Seeding Event last winter. Having the materials and information provided was a tremendous help and very reassuring in getting started.

This January there are two local winter seeding events to help you succeed. This Saturday, Jan 8 TEAC and Warner Library are holding a Milkweed Planting Event outdoors at the Warner Library Children’s Garden in Tarrytown from 10 am to 12. All materials and seeds will be provided as well as hot cider and cookies. Masks are required and social distancing will be practiced. If you have any, please bring empty clear salad and greens containers with lids, at least 3″ deep. Everyone is welcome! For more info go to

Healthy Yards of Bedford will have a native plant seeding event , Seed Now, Plant Later,  on Sunday, Jan 23 from 1 – 3pm at the Bedford Hills train station. All materials and a large variety of native seeds will be available. $5 admission to cover materials. For more info go to

Vegan Recipe of the Month

By Cari Newton

Happy New Year!  This January, why not make it your resolution to eat more healthy plant-based foods?  Even old-timer vegans use a resolution to revamp their eating habits. (Did you know Oreos are vegan?!)  There are plenty of vegan junk food choices available today, and though it’s tempting, it’s better for your health and the planet to eat more of a whole food plant-based diet. By skipping processed foods for most meals, you can get on track for healthy eating for the whole year.    Every January, you can take a pledge to go vegan for the whole month. It’s called VEGANUARY! Sign up to take the pledge at The website has recipes, eating guides, meal plans, shopping tips, and more to help make it super easy.

The thought of going vegan for a whole month may seem overwhelming for some, but remember, even small actions like participating in Meatless Mondays or only eating a vegan diet on weekdays add up to make a difference for ourselves and our environment. Every time you choose a plant-based meal, know you are contributing to the efforts to stop global warming. Eating no meat or even less meat is one of the biggest impacts a person can make towards fighting climate change. If you are just starting with going vegan and you feel like you can use a little extra help figuring it all out, find yourself an experienced vegan who is willing to be your “mentor” to help answer any questions you may have. Their experience can provide great product, recipe, and restaurant recommendations. Also, there are many online and social media resources for information, recipes, support groups, and even fun social groups where you can learn about the best restaurants and vegan products that are available in your area.   As always, your local library is a great place to try out new vegan cookbooks. The Warner Library in Tarrytown has a nice selection to choose from.

This month’s recipe is from the book Vegan Reset. I first found this cookbook at The Warner Library. It’s one of my favorite cookbooks because the recipes are super healthy and delicious, and it’s the best book I’ve found to get back back in the habit of eating healthy. It’s a 28-day meal plan, but I still return to it for individual recipes like the Pineapple Fried Wild Rice that I make a lot. As pictured, I sometimes use a wild rice blend if wild rice is hard to find. The recipe is for 1 meal, but I usually make at least double so there is some for lunch the next day too. I sometimes sub coconut oil for the olive oil and I top with a little sriracha! YUM!

Pineapple Fried Wild Rice


1 tablespoon olive oil

¼ pineapple, peeled and diced

1 cup cooked wild rice

1 cup chopped kale

Pinch of sea salt

Pinch of ground black pepper

1 avocado, sliced or diced


Heat the oil in a pan over high heat. Add the pineapple and cook for 3 minutes, stirring well. Add the wild rice and kale. Reduce heat to medium and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.  Serve with avocado.


By Annie Kravet

Do you make New Year’s resolutions?

The start of a new year is a great reason to create some new zero-waste friendly habits. If you’re new to trying to reduce the amount of waste you create, start small and simple.

Here’s a list that I hope inspires you – pick a few that speak to you, and give it a try!


  1. Bring your own bag when shopping (leave some by the door or in your car so you don’t forget) 

  2. Shop local when you can instead of ordering online 

  3. Shop at the farmers market

  4. Switch from bottled shampoo/ conditioner to shampoo and conditioner bars 

  5. Purchase loose leaf tea & a reusable tea strainer instead of tea bags, which often are made out of plastic 

  6. Compost your food scraps/ leftovers (Look into Hudson Compost to have your food scraps picked up outside your door) 

  7. Learn how to mend a hole and get more life out that pair of socks/ sweater/ pants 

  8. Buy second hand and donate old clothes (keep an eye out for future clothing swap events) 

  9. Get books out of the library 

  10. Make your own vegetable stock with vegetable scraps left over from cooking (think onion tops, carrot and celery ends, etc) 

  11.  Make your own nut milk at home instead of buying in cartons 

  12.  Start using reusable cloths instead paper towels 

  13.  Switch to cloth napkins 

  14.  Get a bidet to reduce toilet paper use 

  15.  Walk or bike instead of driving if possible 

  16.  Eat less meat 

  17.  Bring your own mug when buying coffee or tea

  18.  Switch to DIY cleaning products – you can do a lot with just water, baking soda, and vinegar! 

  19.  Sign up for a local “Buy Nothing” group to give away items you no longer want and find things you may need 

  20.  Plant a garden – or a few pots of herbs on the kitchen windowsill 


By Carole Griffiths

Photo taken in South Central Jersey

A Snow Goose was spotted in Tarrytown (by our very own Harbor Master, Kevin Lustyik), on its way south from its breeding grounds in the Arctic to wintering grounds in Maryland, or Delaware.  Usually, it would be migrating with thousands of other Snow Geese in family groups, but this one lost its group and was foraging with some Canada Geese.

Migration (a  predictable movement of a population between breeding and non-breeding seasons) is one of the most spectacular natural occurrences.  For Snow Geese, the southward migration starts at the end of August and continues through December, into January.  Most of these birds migrate through the central US to Louisiana or Texas (the Central Flyway in the map below, but a small proportion travel down the east coast (Atlantic Flyway). They can make this  trip in one continuous flight, although groups may stopover to feed in different staging areas.

Snow geese are one of the species that migrate – these include over half of the 650 North American breeding birds –  totaling about five billion birds  each season.  Their migratory strategies differ.  In some species (e.g., Northern Mockingbird), only the northern populations migrate, and even then, males tend to stay in winter territories, while the females and young leave.  In other  species (Bald Eagle, for example)  populations migrate in a stepping stone pattern, the northern birds replacing some of the more southern populations, with the latter moving even further south.  Although most species migrate in a north-south pattern, some (Juncos) migrate  up and down mountain slopes.

The most spectacular migrants are those species that travel long distances, leaving North America for South and Central America each fall.  Some shore birds breed north of the Arctic Circle and go as far south as Patagonia, a distance of over 8,000 miles, with the Artic Tern traveling over 10,000 miles each way during migration. Small songbirds, like the small warbler travel from Northern JUS to the Caribbean, Central and South America, with species leaving from August through October.  The smaller birds migrate at night, partly to avoid their enemies and also to be able to feed and rest during the day.

These trips are costly – in energy, exposure to predators, starvation, storms – causing a   50% mortality rate in small land birds and waterfowl.   Hummingbirds can migrate non-stop over 1000km of the Gulf of Mexico in good weather, but storms cause problems and birds may not have the extra energy required to reach land during bad weather.

So why do birds migrate, why take all those risks?  The benefit may be the reduced density, the longer day light, and the more abundant resources during breeding season in the north allows migratory birds to raise more young than tropical breeding birds.

For more information about migration:

For real-time maps of numbers of migrating birds:


For information about where birds are now, and what areas are good for watching birds:


By Martin Hauser

Some years ago I was at a conference in Dorset, in the south of England. The conference center was newly built into the ruins of an ancient manor house. When the presentations were less than riveting, it was a great pleasure to wander in the gardens, which had been designed in keeping with their surroundings. Yes, there was a broad manicured lawn, but it was surrounded by old majestic trees. Many of the trees were wrapped with ivy and various flowering vines. You will often see this in gardens in England and on the European continent, especially in Germany, but in America sadly not. Here our yards tend to be tidy, but dull, kept that way by constant maintenance with gasoline-powered equipment.

Consider letting vines climb up your trees, for a more natural and luxurious look to your yard. When this is done, the most frequent choice is English Ivy. Bad idea! English Ivy is invasive outside its native home in England and there are much better choices. The miniature English Ivies, with their delicate and often variegated leaves, are wonderful houseplants, requiring very little light and minimal care. But that’s where they belong – indoors.

My Ivy League alma mater long ago replaced all its English Ivy with Virginia Creeper (also known as Woodbine), a native American vine that turns brilliant red in the fall. The effect on the eye is the same, providing dignity and grace to those hallowed halls, but the effect on both the environment and maintenance costs is far superior. It has the advantage of growing quickly, so you can get started right away with your new look.
Virginia Creeper. Photo: Shutterstock

Another good choice is Coral Honeysuckle, whose fragrant orange blossoms are legendary. Hummingbirds also find them very attractive. Make sure your nursery sells you this native American Honeysuckle, Lonicera sempervirens, and not one of the very popular, but invasive, imported varieties.

Similarly, imported varieties of Wisteria are also popular, because they grow very quickly, but get American Wisteria (Wisteria frutescens), which will give you just as much pleasure without running rampant over our woodlands. It’s hard to beat Wisteria for beauty. Its huge clusters of purple flowers are gorgeous. It’s also one of the very favorite flowers of bumblebees, upon whom we depend for 80% of the pollination for our crops and vegetables. One caution is that Wisteria can grow almost into a tree in its own right, and over the years it will need to be trimmed back to keep it from smothering the tree that it adorns. But again, this is less a problem with American Wisteria than with the invasive, imported varieties.

Amythyst Falls, a non-invasive, native American Wisteria

And what would a garden be without Bittersweet! Those bright yellow berries are one of the hallmarks of summer, and they can be cut and brought indoors for seasonal flower arrangements. But one more time, plant only American Bittersweet, Celastrus scandens. The very popular Oriental Bittersweet is hopelessly invasive and has already overrun our wild lands, our yards, and any place it can gain a foothold.

American Bittersweet. Photo: Johnson’s Nursery

Finally, a note of caution. The vine that one most often sees wrapped around trees in Hudson Valley woodlands – and even yards – is Poison Ivy. Stare at google images until you can immediately recognize this menace of the botanical world. If Poison Ivy appears in your yard, and it will, put on disposable gloves and pull it out by the roots or dig it up, if necessary. Do not burn it or compost it. Put it in plastic trash bags and leave it for the Sanitation Department to collect. When you’ve finished, wash your hands with a strong detergent.

When selected with careful consideration, vines will not harm you or your trees. On the contrary, they will surround you with beauty and fragrance and put a smile on the tiny faces of our pollinators. So rethink your gardening practices and “Go where the wood-bine twineth.”

Helpful tip: consider using a phone app like Picture This, iNaturalist or PlantSnap to help identify invasive plants, trees and vines. Or feel free to send a photo to and we will try to help out!


The Villages of Irvington, Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow, alongside the Irvington Green Policy Task Force, Tarrytown Environmental Advisory Council and Sleepy Hollow Environmental Advisory Committee have partnered with Sustainable Westchester to bring EnergySmart Homes Rivertowns to our community.

With rebates and incentives available from NYSERDA and your utility, you have the opportunity to significantly reduce your home energy consumption, lower your energy bills, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and increase the year-round comfort and value of your home. Learn More HERE

by Dr. Kimberly Nicholas

After speaking to the international public for close to fifteen years about sustainability, climate scientist Dr. Nicholas realized that concerned people were getting the wrong message about the climate crisis.

Yes, companies and governments are hugely responsible for the mess we’re in. But individuals CAN effect real, significant, and lasting change to solve this problem.

Nicholas explores finding purpose in a warming world, combining her scientific expertise and her lived, personal experience in a way that seems fresh and deeply urgent: Agonizing over the climate costs of visiting loved ones overseas, how to find low-carbon love on Tinder, and even exploring her complicated family legacy involving supermarket turkeys.


by Suzy Allman

The mossy hemlock forest at Pawling Nature Reserve. 

Once the leaves are gone and winter settles in, I sometimes find the  monochrome hardwood forests can seem a little dull. And it’s hard to find those forests where the evergreens are so dense and vibrant, it hardly feels like winter at all.

If you’re craving a bit of green in your hikes this winter, try Pawling Nature Reserve in Pawling, Putnam County. Here the moss grows thickly at the feet of old hemlocks and pines, and you can almost feel like you’re standing at the edge of springtime.

Red and white pine, hemlocks, lichens and moss decorate the rises and hollows of this deep green, 1000-acre reserve. Green and orange trails lead you along Duell Hollow Brook as it threads through and cascades down the gorge. On a misty day, you might believe you’re in Oregon.

To reach the gorge within the Reserve, I recommend taking the yellow trail from the parking area to the red trail, then on to the green and orange trails in the northwest corner of the preserve. Parking is in the lot on Quaker Lake Road.

Afterwards (when it’s finally safe to do so!), reward yourself with a stop at McKinney and Doyle, a restaurant and corner bakery in the little train-station village of Pawling.



Announcing our Winter/Spring Film Series!

We will kick off the series with a watch party followed by a Zoom or Gather conversation.  Some films on our list: Uninvited, Kiss the Ground, Seed: the Untold Story, True Cost, Before the Flood

Stay tuned for more details @ 

TEAC will give a year-end presentation to the Mayor and Board of Trustees on January 18th at 8pm. Please come to Village Hall or log on to watch and support us!

“I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.

– Thomas Edison, in conversation with Henry Ford and Harvy Firestone, 1931

Copyright © 2022 Tarrytown Environmental Advisory Council, All rights reserved.

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