Sustainable Cherry Hill brings Mike McGrath, host of WHYY’s “You Bet Your Garden,” to Croft Farm

Devon Braunstein ('10)/Eastside Community Editor

You can “bet your garden” that Sustainable Cherry Hill’s Sunday, March 22 event was a success.  Sustainable Cherry Hill (SCH) worked with Elite Landscaping to bring host of WHYY’s “You Bet Your Garden,” Mike McGrath, to the Art Center at Historic Croft Farm.

Local celebrity, Mike McGrath, was given a warm welcome as he ascended onto the stage, ready to give his presentation.  He started with an explanation about to “get your lawn off drugs,” sharing tips on pesticide substitutes, lawn remedies and watering techniques.  McGrath also held a question and answer session with the audience members, giving them the chance to receive his expert opinion on their specific lawn and garden concerns. 

Prior to the presentation, McGrath held a free pre-program.  McGrath privately met with several school, religious and non-profit organizations to teach them about starting organic community gardens of their own.  One non-profit organization, Achieve Ability, traveled across the bridge from Philadelphia to ask McGrath about transforming a vacant lot into a community garden.  Among the attendees of the pre-program were representatives from Bret Harte and Carusi, in addition to Catholic charities.

Before and after the speech, guests were able to browse the various tables set up by sponsors as mini expos.  Audience members spent time talking to sponsors about  their green products, including solar panels, organic lawn care, natural gift baskets and many others. 

A representative from the New Jersey Environmental Federation, Jane Nogaki, was also present at the event to add to McGrath’s point about the dangers of chemical usage on plants. 

The event dovetails nicely with Cherry Hill Township’s plans to pass the Integrated Pest Management resolution (IPM), an act restraining the use of pesticides and herbicides, SCH decided it was only necessary to educate people about how to care for their lawns and gardens without chemical use. 

SCH did not leave guests hungry, as they brought in student volunteers to sell cups of organic trail mix, as well as Suburban Organic co-owner, Shelly Henshaw, to distribute organic produce and sell fresh squeezed lemonade. 

Main sponsor, Elite Landscaping, which recently added an environmentally friendly branch to its services, and its partner Rain Harvest Company, donated a rain barrel to be raffled off at the event.  Bret Harte school ended up winning the rain barrel.  The rain barrel  will come in handy in the creation of an outdoor classroom recently funded by a Recycle Bank Environmental Education grant. 

The money raised at the event will go towards SCH’s efforts to raise the community’s awareness on sustainability through educational programing.  SCH’s next event, on Tuesday, March 31, will be a screening of “Renewal,” an award winning documentary about what people of religious faith are doing for the planet, from 7-9 pm.  They hope to have attendance from religious group representatives from all around South Jersey.  

Shelly Henshaw, co -owner of Suburban Organic, gives out organic produce and sells fresh squeezed lemonade.