Native Nations Rise March on Washington, March 10, 2017

On March 10, 2017, Raíces EcoCulture participated in the Native Nations Rise March on Washington. We do not have many words to share about this march, we were there as allies with and for those whose land was stolen. It was a sad and somber gathering, the pain of centuries of genocide and colonial trauma hung in the air as we moved through the city of Washington, D.C.. We marched because water is life, earth is life, air is life, and we stand with our indigenous and first nations relatives in seeking earth justice and a more balanced, harmonious relationship with our environment and each other. We continue to move forward in our work of building a culture of caring and respect for the Earth and all of her creatures. Here is a little more about the march, as described by the organizers, and you can find our photo gallery below:


“We are Tribal Nations and grassroots Indigenous communities rising to the call set forth by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to defend our inherent rights to protect Unci Maka and our water: Mni Wiconi…

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Indigenous grassroots leaders call on our allies across the United States and around the world to peacefully March on Washington DC. We ask that you rise in solidarity with the Indigenous peoples of the world whose rights protect Unci Maka (Grandmother Earth) for the future generations of all.”

PHOTO ALBUM: Native Nations Rise – March on Washington, D.C., March 10, 2017


Raíces EcoCulture Community Action Team Meeting Notes – May 21, 2017

Raíces EcoCulture Community Action Team
Meeting Notes

Attendees: Nicole Wines, Francisco G. Gómez, Paul A, Daniel C, Kira H, Rocío H, Chad H, Sylvia H, Amanda H, Paul S, Chris T, Elizabeth T

1. Resource Lists

-Subcommittee members: Liz, Kira, Amanda, Paul A.
-Liz reported that she is researching what already exists and creating a shared google doc to enter data. Once there is an accumulation of data, she will create a wiki, starting with a focus on Middlesex County and then spreading it statewide by networking with other activists
ACTION ITEM: Nicole contacted Junior Romero from Food and Water Watch and he emailed us a list of current elected officials in Central NJ Counties
ACTION ITEM: Before next meeting, Liz hopes to have a list of politicians (Junior already sent it!) and a list of headings for categories. She will also research different wiki sites to see which makes the most sense for our group to use.

2. Eco-Art

Water is Life Thunderbird Woman

-Subcommittee members: Paul S., Mark, Dan, Rocío, Liz
-Raíces will be holding a series of eco-art related events, and would love support and assistance from our EcoCulture Community Action Team.
NOTE: We have since held a subcommittee meeting cross between the Eco-Art subcommittee and the Revive the Raritan/Mill Brook clean up committee. It was decided that a critical mass event/festival would be something to work towards instead of trying to create immediately. Through messaging, marketing, fundraising programs, and educational events, we hope to begin to educate community members and network with additional organizations, residents and groups to build up to a critical mass. The Raíces Eco-Art programs and events will help with this messaging initiative.
-Current programs in planning process – Eco-Art exhibit including clean up and workshop with Lisa Bagwell (October), Water Is Life Art exhibit (September)

3. Mill Brook Clean Up/Revive the Raritan Initiative

-Subcommittee members: Francisco, Nicole, Chris, Liz, Dan, Sylvia, Paul S., Mark
-Our watershed is 41% impervious surface.
-It will take long term planning to recover/repair the river, and it can only be done incrementally.
-On a micro scale, there are already clean-ups happening (ex: RCHP has adopted a section of the Mill Brook, Mark Lesko also adopted a section on his own, and does almost daily clean ups along the river). It was expressed that in order to have a meaningful and lasting impact, instead of having a handful of people doing many small cleanups, we would need to have a critical mass of people at larger events.
-On a macro scale we can look to a critical mass style clean up event to clean whole Mill Brook or large sections of river front, ID contamination sites (mapping project where we create a history of contamination and destruction to educate the community), slow the course of the Mill Brook (resident rain gardens to reduce storm run off, long term planning to decrease amount of impervious surface in our watershed).
-We have since had two additional meetings of this sub-group, one where we screened and discussed Rescuing the River: The Raritan and one which was a cross group meeting with the Eco-Art committee to begin planning an educational messaging campaign. We want to motivate residents and community members, and be pro-active in connecting people to the river to help create a culture of caring about our waterways.
-Additional notes on clean-ups when we are ready for critical mass events:

  • someone suggested researching inmate/community service
  • Sylvia will maintain connections to volunteers from RU, HP Gives a Hoot, etc.
  • Dan mentioned an environmental history class at RU where they talked about the river offered through the Department of Human Ecology
  • someone mentioned data on mosquito control actions back to the 1910’s being accessible in Alexander Library Special Collections connecting to the Lower Rarity Watershed Project about the history of the river, as some of their interns and partners have already done some of that work. Might be able to continue it collaboratively, or work together to share data and resources.


4. Compost Collective/Cooperative

-Subcommittee members: Liz, Francisco, Linda, Nicole, Amanda, Mark, Paul S, Chris
-Liz presented the research she had done since the last meeting. Models she found included a monthly fee for participants of $15-$30. Different prices for pickup vs. delivery/drop off. Current models include distributed boxes/holders for food compost.
-Would be human powered
-Would need space
-Would need a full business plan including financing/grants for start up.
-There is currently an RU Compost Operators class offered at Duke Farms.
-Paul A. has a business plan from when he owned which he will send us.
-This working group will need to have it’s own separate meetings to start the planning process.

5. Outreach

-Subcommittee members: Sylvia, Liz, Paul A., Dan, Fuyo, Mark, Chris, Nicole
-This committee does not require additional meetings at this time. Members will work on getting the word out about our programs, events, actions and initiatives, as well as network with other groups and organizations. Spread the word through social media, sending delegates to other environmental and ecological groups’ meetings and programs, tabling at events and festivals, etc.

6. Grant Crew

-Subcommittee members: Fuyo, Nicole, Amanda, Kira, Liz
-This working group will need to have it’s own separate meetings to start working on raising funds through grants.

7. EV Cars

-Fuyo gave an initial introduction to the idea of an Electric Vehicle collective
-The initiative would include mechanics, cooperative solar, administrative workers

8. New Business

-Chad-will post compost idea
-Paul-biking interest
-Amanda-mentioned bike repair (NB Bike Exchange behind PRAB, which would be a social justice connection). Chris knows the person who runs the bike exchange and will connect Amanda to that person.
-Mark asked for an opinion vote over the terms plastic free waters vs. trash free waters. Vote came out 8 to 4 for plastic free waters.
-Next meetings will be subcommittee based meetings, and we will reconvene the larger group for report backs quarterly instead of monthly.

Eco Responsibility vs. Cognitive Dissonance

by Francisco G. Gómez

Having electricity at the flick of a switch, running water at the turn of a faucet knob or gas heat by raising the thermostat really makes us subconsciously irresponsible to a fault. Those of us who do this continually would beg to differ, simply because we don’t really care or suffer from something called “ cognitive dissonance.” Webster’s dictionary defines it as: psychological conflict resulting from simultaneously held incongruous beliefs and attitudes (as a fondness for smoking and a belief that it is harmful).

Do you have that significant other or children who know the truth behind fossil fuel consumption, environmental sustainability and the inevitable economic collapse that is shortly to arrive? You know, the ones that walk through the house leaving a light or two on in every room, as well as the TV, computer or any of the other things that are supposed to make our life easier?

The one that really gets me is my morning tea ritual; I get up and do the normal things that most semi conscious people do at 7 in the morning. I get the kettle going, wait for the water to boil. Meanwhile, I eat a piece of fruit, grab my book or pre-charged computer and get ready to sit down in my customary chair in the living room. Mind you, I’ve done all of this without turning on the ceiling fan that has three 60 watt bulbs screwed into the sockets. Yes, I know, I’ve turned the gas stove on for a period of 3 minutes, but at least give me credit for not using the fan and lights! Along comes the significant other or son and flicks on the light switch just as I put the honey in the tea. I say good morning and why do you have to turn the lights on; answer is always “I can’t see.” Of course there’s a picture window in my kitchen that lets in plenty of light – talk about getting pissed off!

Here’s the other one that makes me absolutely crazy; the dinner dishes must be done, the stack sits on the counter next to the kitchen sink, on comes the water, lever completely open and does not stop until every dish and utensil is rinsed off. I ask, What about water consumption, haven’t we talked about this before and you agree that saving water is wise?” Answer is, “ You do the dishes your way and I do it my way!” I ask again, “What about using less water?” no answer.

Here’s a good one; my son usually has the light and ceiling fan going every minute that he’s in the toxic zone that he calls his bedroom. I constantly complain, but my protestations fall upon deaf ears. The night comes and the temperature can fall to about 49 degrees on average during the Spring. Of course, the fan is still going all night and into the day. The conversation goes something like this:

“Hey, kid, the temp really fell last night, wouldn’t you say? Answer, “ So what are you
trying to say, dad?” Answer, “It was freaking cold last night; why did you leave the
fan on?” Answer, “I was hot” “But you have all the windows open.” Answer, “ Yea, I
know, it’s the sound, it helps me sleep.” I say, “why don’t you record the sound and
loop it for hours? Answer, “It’s not the same, dad.” I say, “ It’s a hell of lot cheaper,
son.” Answer, “Yea I know, but it’s not the same.”

The vein in my forehead wants to explode and my eyes start to twitch uncontrollably
The problem is cognitive dissonance created by years and years of abundance that is rapidly coming to an end, but most of us here in the mid eastern side of the United States choose to zone out to this reality. In other words, you know that the cost of water, electricity and consumer goods have sky rocketed, but you chose to put it out of sight and mind because of your CD!

As Climate Change continues to impact the planet at an alarming rate, we have been fortunate not to see climate migration like some places in Africa, ice melts in the polar ice caps that are displacing animals, or the simple fact that we still have running water coming through our faucets; even if it isn’t wise to drink the water, not even filtered! There’s a water war taking place on our earth; just take a look and see how the Spring and bottled water businesses have proliferated.

We can’t forget that the powers that be in Washington have sold out to the big fossil fuel companies and will attempt to keep an outdated, dirty and very dangerous industry alive. And, now that our government has rolled back small environmental strides made in past years, because of their climate denial, it may become more apparent and frighteningly clear that we must stop over consumption of precious resources and we must relearn what it means to live in harmony with Mother Nature if we are to survive as a species on this tiny blue globe.

It’s 3 o clock; we just finished an early dinner. The dishes are stacked next to the kitchen sink. My significant other says, “Leave the dishes there, I’ll do them.” I say, “no” of course without having to state why. I proceed towards the ceramic heap and a dialogue ensues anyway. I say “Why must you waste so much water when you wash the dishes?” She answers very dissonant and very cognitively, “I like the way all the water feels over my hands!” Go figure………

Photo Gallery: Intro to Solar Energy Workshop

On May 21, Raíces Cultural Center’s EcoCulture program held an Introduction to Solar Energy workshop as part of our Sustainable Living Workshop Series. This workshop followed our Intro to Seed Saving workshop, and taught participants basic principles about how solar energy technology works-including both off-grid and grid-connected systems, the diverse range of applications for solar and other renewable energies, and the wide varieties of opportunities to create green jobs, including locally owned solar community coops and smaller, local businesses. Workshop presenter Laura Waldman, of Sun Blue Energy, also went over some of the upcoming advances in the solar industry and how to identify sites that would make sense for solar energy installations. Participants were able to ask questions and dialogue about solar technology and its many applications. Raíces Cultural Center would like to thank Laura Waldman for sharing her knowledge with us. We look forward to working more together in the future!

The Sustainable Living Workshop Series is co-sponsored by Sustainable Highland Park and funded by Highland Park’s Park Partners Grant Program as well as by individual donations. For a full workshop schedule visit the Sustainable Living Workshop Series Info Page.



May 21, 2017
Eugene Young Environmental Education Center
Highland Park, NJ

Photo Gallery: Intro to Seed Saving Workshop

On May 21, Raíces Cultural Center’s EcoCulture program held an Introduction to Seed Saving workshop as part of our Sustainable Living Workshop Series. Participants in the workshop learned about the importance of saving seed and building bio-diverse local and regional seed libraries and seed banks. Workshop presenter Rachel Dawn Davis, of Green Dawn Solutions, also went over some of the basics of seed saving with workshop participants, including a hands-on bean seed saving activity, where participants shelled, sorted, and saved four different varieties of bean seeds. Participants were able to choose varieties of seeds to grow, save, and share in their own home gardens. Raíces Cultural Center would like to thank Rachel for sharing her knowledge and experiences on the topic of seed saving.

The Sustainable Living Workshop Series is co-sponsored by Sustainable Highland Park and funded by Highland Park’s Park Partners Grant Program as well as by individual donations. For a full workshop schedule visit the Sustainable Living Workshop Series Info Page.

Want to be a seed saver? Join the Raíces EcoCulture Seed Library and save seeds with us! Learn more and register here and we will be in touch with details on becoming a member and borrowing seed to get started!


May 21, 2017
Eugene Young Environmental Education Center
Highland Park, NJ

Raíces EcoCulture Garden Crew Spring Update

by Nicole Wines

The Raíces Garden Crew is growing. Members of our recently formed Community Action Team as well as students from the Highland Park High School Environmental Club have been volunteering to transplant herbs and perennials, start seedlings, work on the Raíces Seed Library, and even create new gardens at their own homes.

We are hoping to collaborate with the High School’s Green Team to keep the school gardens in town taken care of throughout the summer, as well as find new places to plant in our community. It has been inspiring and exciting to see the enthusiasm of our crew as they get their hands into the soil and work to green our community, promote pollinators, and raise food production awareness, one seed and one plant at a time.

Looking for plants for your garden? Support Raíces EcoCulture’s efforts and make an order in our annual plant sale. Want to get involved with our garden crew or the Raíces Seed Library? Email us at raices [at] raicesculturalcenter [dot] org. We are looking forward to hearing from you!

Photo Gallery: Raíces Garden Crew, Spring 2017

Raíces Seedling Sale Fundraiser 2017


Raíces Eco-Culture is holding its annual seedling sale so our community members and neighbors can grow their own food while supporting Raíces Eco-Culture programs. This year we focused on tomatoes and herbs, both culinary and medicinal. All seedlings are organically grown and have not been sprayed or treated with any chemicals. Some varieties are heirloom, all are open pollinated.

Check out the plant list below and send your orders by email to (please include plant name and desired quantity for each type of plant you want). Tomato, strawberry, catnip and mint plants are ready and available for pickup. Other herbs and our golden celery will be available after June 1. We will send a confirmation email and arrange pickup details with you upon receiving your order.

Seedlings for sale in the fundraiser will be first come first serve.  We will do our best to keep the plant variety list up-to-date, but if something is unavailable when you send your order, we will let you know.

Donation breakdown

Tomatoes & Celery
$1 per plant, all varieties

Strawberry Plants

Strawberry Plants

Strawberries & all herbs except basil
 & mint
Single plant – $2
3 plants – $5
7 plants – $10

Basil & mint
Single plant – $1
6 plants – $5

Variegated Hosta Plants

$5/each or 3/$10


Tomato Seedlings

  • Beefsteak Yellow (Large, yellow slicing tomatoes)
  • Black Cherry (Heirloom purple cherry tomatoes)

    Tomato SeedlingBlack Cherry (Heirloom, sweet, dark purple cherry tomatoes)

  • Brandywine (Large, red/pink heirloom)
  • Cherokee Purple (Heirloom, large purple tomatoes, good flavor)
  • Cosmonaut Volkov (red slicing tomato)
  • Green Zebra (Green striped tomato, citrusy flavor)
  • Golden Ponderosa (large yellow tomato)
  • Manyel (medium sized yellow slicing tomato)
  • Omar’s Lebanese tomato (large, red heirloom tomato)
  • Peacevine Cherry (Red cherry tomato)
  • Pruden’s Purple (Heirloom, large reddish, purple tomato)
  • San Marzano (Heirloom, red paste tomato)
  • Striped Cavem (Red with yellow and orange stripes, great for sauce & cooking)
  • Sweetie Cherry (Red cherry tomato)
  • Upstate Oxheart (Large red, heart shaped tomato, good for slicing & cooking, can grow up to 10′!)
  • White Cherry (Pale yellow cherry tomato)
  • Yellow Pear (small yellow pear shaped tomatoes)

Other vegetables

  • Celery-Golden Self Blanching (limited availability, order early)
  • Pepper – King of the North (red/green bell, limited availability)

Basil – Available starting June 1, pre-order to reserve

  • Italian Basil
  • Lemon Basil
  • Rosie Basil (purple leaf)
  • Thai Basil
  • Windowbox Mini Basil- limited availability

Herbs – Available starting June 1, pre-order to reserve

  • Anise
  • Catnip
  • Chervil


  • Echinacea
  • Greek Oregano
  • Italian Oregano – limited availability
  • Lemon Balm
  • Hyssop – limited availability
  • Marjoram – limited availability
  • Mint
  • Pennyroyal
  • Rue
  • Sage
  • Shungiku (edible chrysanthemum – limited availability)
  • Summer Savory
  • Thyme (order now for late summer planting)


Don’t see what you want to grow? We are also selling seeds in our online SeedsNow shop. Check it out and place your seed order here. 20% of all seed sales get donated to Raíces EcoCulture.

Photo Gallery: Intro to Beekeeping & Apiculture Workshop

This past Tuesday Raíces Cultural Center’s EcoCulture program held the first program in its new Sustainable Living Workshop Series. Raíces Board of Directors member Javier Robles gave an introductory overview of honeybees and beekeeping. Javier, who is also an attorney and a professor at Rutgers University, spoke to workshop participants about the basics of beekeeping and answered questions about bees and apiculture. Javier will lead a field trip to his beehives at Cook College this June. Please see the program calendar at or sign up for our mailing list in the sidebar to receive program information. Check out the photo gallery from this workshop:


Intro to Beekeeping and Apiculture with Javier Robles


Part 1 of the Sustainable Living Workshop Series will continue through the end of June. See full schedule here.

Part 2 of the series will be held in late summer and early fall, schedule TBA.

This pilot program is funded by the Highland Park, New Jersey Park Partners grant program and donations from our friends, family and community supporters during our Spring EcoCulture Fundraising Drive. All workshops in this series are co-sponsored by Sustainable Highland Park.

Raíces EcoCulture Community Action Team Meeting Notes – April 30, 2017

Raíces EcoCulture Community Action Team
Meeting Notes

Attendees: Nicole Wines, Linda P., Liz T., Chris T., Kira H., Rocio H., Paul A., Paul S., Mark L., Ana P., Adrian P., Karlos B., Susan E., Lowell E., Amanda H.

Everyone introduced themselves and spoke briefly about why they were attending and what other environmental groups and projects they are a part of.

Purpose of group – To identify initiatives and projects that can be taken on a local level to effect change in environment, ecology and sustainability, make a plan for the projects and take action to put them in place.

II. BRAINSTORM SESSION – These were some of the ideas and areas that we identified that could be worked on.

Gardening – School gardens, garden tours, year-found food production (extremely critical issue for us in NJ), crop sharing/exchange, education, canning groups. This is a huge issue and one of the most critical that we spoke about. On a larger, local food production scale this is a large undertaking, but we can all start small, right at home by planting some of our own food this season, whether in a garden or in a container. Adrian pointed out that the school gardens he has helped to plant end up being removed or uncared for through the summer.
ACTION ITEMS: Mark might be able to work with Adrian and other students who are interested in taking care of the school gardens during the summer and will follow up to find out if the High School and Middle School gardens are shared or separate. Nicole can follow up with Irene Chan Marx of the schools’ green team. Anyone who wants to plant is invited to participate in the Raíces Seed Library to grow and save seed with us.

Composting – This is separate from gardening even though it’s related because it is also a waste reduction issue. This is something everyone can do, and many group members already do it, through some expressed concern about whether or not they do it “correctly”. Community compost collection and/or drop off would be ideal. This was of huge interest to most attending meeting, and we decided on creating a composting cooperative as one of our main action items/projects to move forward on.
ACTION ITEM: Next meeting we will begin to create a plan for forming a composting cooperative. In the meantime, members should research worker-owned cooperatives and find examples/models of other community based, cooperatively owned composting solutions in other cities and towns.

Localized bartering group – It was pointed out that there is currently the infrastructure available for a local time bank, but at this point it is not being used. If the group decides to revive and use this time bank in the future, it is already in place for us to use.

Environmental Education in schools – Ana volunteered to act as liaison between group and school board for the remainder of the school year if needed. During school board elections, pressure needs to be put on candidates who are running in order to work for platform items that address sustainability.

Plastic bag reduction – Mark is already working with the Trash Free Waters Partnership of NY/NJ leading the bottles working group. This group might have resources. Sustainable Highland Park is currently awaiting a decision on a grant application for a plastic bag reduction initiative in Highland Park. Our team could join or augment this effort if the project is put into place. Additional research about other cities, states and even countries who have banned plastic in some form (bags, single-use utensils, styrofoam take out containers, etc) needs to be done, including researching ordinances from similarly sized towns.

Political action and pressure – Everyone can write letters, make calls, speak to elected officials, show up for rallies and demonstrations, etc, including the youth members of the group. This is an action step that all group members can take consistently, and without much time or effort being put in, on top of the action items and initiatives we will undertake. This will not be the main focus or activity of the group, just something we can all do on our own time and help each other to figure out how to do for those who aren’t sure. Group members who participated in the meeting represent Highland Park, New Brunswick, Somerset/Franklin and North Plainfield (Middlesex and Somerset Counties).
ACTION ITEM: Someone in the group can create a quick resource list/guide for members that lists the elected officials we should all be putting pressure on and contacting, and the issues we can contact them about. Any volunteers?

Arts – Addressing Ecology and Environment through the arts. Art can reach and educate people who would not otherwise seek information, education and action on environmental issues.

Mill Brook in Highland Park – Surrounded by so much impervious cover that when it rains the water that drains to the brook makes it run so fast that it is devoid of life. Susan suggested a neighborhood campaign to educate surrounding residents about the importance of running their stormwater downspouts to absorb into the ground versus draining it to the street, and/or creating rain barrel systems. Most surrounding residents currently run their downspouts out to the street. It was mentioned that at about four other local groups have been involved in ecological work on Mill Brook and that we may be able to combine forces.
ACTION ITEM: Identify all groups working on Mill Brook recovery and action steps they are taking. Identify gaps/additional work that can be done on this. Create action plan.

Storm Water Management in future planning – Permeable surfaces instead of impervious cover, especially for off-street parking.

Bicycle Parking

Pipelines & Fossil Fuel Resistance

Resource list creation – Examples: Current local and active environmental groups, political action resource list with info on who to contact about what issues, topical educational resource lists.
ACTION ITEM: Liz & Kira will head this up together and will ultimately create a wiki.

We went around the table to declare which items from the brainstorming session we were each most interested in pursuing. Here is the list from the members who were remaining at this point in the meeting. If you were not here for this part, but you want to add yourself to this, please email us and let us know your thoughts.

-Linda – Cooperatives, pipeline issue
-Kira – Resource lists, compost
-Rocio – Arts
-Paul S. – Mill Brook
-Chris – Mill Brook, stormwater management, composting
-Liz – Composting
-Paul A. – Fill in the gaps anywhere, outreach
-Mark – Mill Brook, gardening, composting
-Adrian – Gardening
-Ana – Educational initiatives, liaison between group and HP Board of Ed., composting
-Amanda – Cooperatives, resource list

After reviewing this list, the group decided to work on two main projects, the Mill Brook Initiative and creating a Composting Cooperative. In addition, Kira, Liz and Amanda will work to create resource lists and eventually create a wiki, and Rocio will work with Nicole and Raíces on an EcoArts Initiative. Most of the time at the next meeting will be taken in planning and creating an action plan for the two main projects. In the meantime, we can still dialogue, research, read, plan and start taking steps!

In order to be effective in planning and working between meetings, Raíces will create a google group. Please let Nicole know whether you would like to receive individual messages or digest messages. If you know anyone else who wants to be added, please let Nicole know.

Worker Owned Cooperatives. Here are three links that were shared by Raíces Director Francisco G. Gómez as an introduction to worker-owned cooperatives. Please browse  through these sites and articles before the next meeting and conduct additional research on your own about the formation of cooperatives and about community composting endeavors. This will be a huge undertaking, so if we come prepared with knowledge, information and examples, it will make the beginning of our work go more smoothly. There are many questions and issues to examine in brainstorming and creating an action plan. I will send another email over the new google group by some time next week to address some of these and get you thinking before the next meeting. Here are the three links to read:

Join the Raíces Eco-Culture Facebook group if you are on FB. This can be used as a message board for our working groups, as well as a place to share resources and ideas and ask questions.

River cleanups – Group member Mark Lesko holds clean ups along the river several times each week. Here is a link to his HP Environmental & Ecology Facebook group where he posts announcements about these cleanups as well as additional events and resources. All are encouraged to join this group and join Mark on his clean-ups. If you are not on FB but want to join the cleanups, we will be posting those announced with anticipation on our new google group:

Raíces EcoCulture Sustainable Living Workshop Series – All are invited. This free series begins next week with an introductory beekeeping workshop at the Environmental Education Center, 20 River Rd., Highland Park. Full schedule for Part One of the series is available in link below. Please share these events with people you know who may be interested in attending as it helps with education in the community. If you have any ideas for future workshops or want to hold one yourself, please let Nicole know, Part Two of the series will begin in late August and is still being scheduled.

Link to full schedule:

Raíces Seed Library – For any gardener in the group who wants to join the Raíces Seed Library and start saving seeds with us, check out the info on the link below. This year, we have 217 varieties of vegetables, herbs and flowers available for “borrowing”

Sustainable Highland Park – Meetings are open to the public and recently underwent a change in leadership. We would like more public/community participation and we can probably get support and collaboration from SHP. Next meeting is May 24, 7:30-9pm at the Environmental Education Center, 20 River Rd., Highland Park. Website is coming out soon, I will share the link as soon as it’s ready.

OTHER – What other environmental groups is everyone on our team a part of? What groups are working on issues we mentioned and will be working? Which might we be able to link up with to share work and resources?


Date/Time/Location – Sunday, May 21 / 7-9 PM / Pino’s Gift Basket and Wine Shoppe, 13 N. 4th Ave, Highland Park, NJ

Introductions (5 minutes)
Review Last Meeting’s Action Items (5 minutes)
Resource Lists (10 minutes)
EcoArts Update (10 minutes)
Mill Brook Initiative (30 minutes)
Composting Cooperative (35 minutes)
Grant Writing (10 minutes)
Review New Action Items (5 minutes)
Electric Vehicle Initiative (5 minutes)
New Business (5 minutes)

Photo Gallery: Raíces Seed Library Orientation Meetings 2017

by Nicole Wines

The 2017 gardening season is off to a great start. Thanks to a new collaboration with the Sustainable Highland Park Committee, the Raíces EcoCulture Seed Library has a new homebase at the Eugene Young Environmental Education Center in Highland Park, NJ. We had our first meetings for the season on March 16 and 18. I left both meetings energized and inspired by the motivation and desire to plant, grow, and save seeds together.

Participants were given a brief introduction to what a seed library is and a quick overview on some of the basics of seed saving. Some of the participants have saved seeds in the past and for others it is their first time. No matter the level of experience, it is guaranteed to be a learning process and community endeavor for all.

After taking some questions and dialoguing a bit about gardening, seeds, seed companies and why it is so important to save seeds, everyone got to work on some hands-on seed saving tasks, including making our own D.I.Y. recycled seed envelopes (click link for instructional video and link to envelope template) and saving cilantro, or coriander, seeds.

Some of the key points and ideas that came up at the meeting were:

  • Seed is life.
  • Plant for the pollinators – Pollinators are in trouble, especially the bees, and our seed saving efforts can help provide clean sources of food for the entire growing season by interplanting flowers and allowing herbs and vegetables to go to flower.
  • Native plants – One participant mentioned an interest in learning more about native plants. We hope to create a category within the seed library for seeds of native plants.
  • It isn’t just about saving seeds, but also about creating community. There were connections made between participants and interest expressed in building collaborations with local schools and students. In addition, members, both new and old, were invited to help in the planning process for the Raíces EcoCulture Seed Library and help make it a collective and cooperative effort as we move forward.
  • Raíces EcoCulture Seed Library member Rachel Dawn Davis will create and present a family and child friendly seed saving workshop this May as part of the Raíces EcoCulture Sustainable Living Workshop Series. Check out our program calendar or sign up for our mailing list in the sidebar to get updates directly to your inbox.


Couldn’t make it to the meetings? You can still become a member of the Raíces EcoCulture Seed Library. We will be scheduling a seed saving work party within the next couple of weeks to all work together on getting the seed library ready for the 2017 growing season, as well as a seed saving workshop for children and families in May. Check our program calendar for updates and details or join our mailing list in the sidebar on the right to get updates directly to your inbox. In the meantime, here are some more photos from tonight’s meeting.

3/16/2017 & 3/18/2017, HIGHLAND PARK, NJ