Help the environment with native plants – Advice Eating

While the Native Plant Society of New Jersey (NPSNJ) has been around since the mid-1980s, the organization’s Hudson County Chapter was formed just last summer by co-leaders Kim Correro, Lorraine Freeney, and Dawn Giambalvo.

Since then, the organization has been active in the Hudson communities, providing education and resources to encourage the planting of native plants in the region. That Hudson reporter recently spoke to Correro about the NPSNJ chapter.

“It happened during this time of the pandemic when we were all quarantined indoors,” Correro said. “We only had our backyards and our parks. So we would meet up and go to the park and watch the birds. We would look at the plants.”

This interest soon turned into action. Correro, Freeney and Giambalvo have endeavored to found the local chapter of the NPSNJ.

“One day we came across the Native Plant Society of New Jersey and decided to give them a call,” she said. “There was no Hudson County Chapter. They had chapters in Essex, Bergen, Passaic and Cape May, but nothing in our area. We just thought we had to have such an organization here. So we asked if we could start the chapter, they were very welcoming, and it started from there.

From pastime to passion

After that, Correro and the other founders developed a passion for native plants in Hudson County.

“I can’t say enough great things about the Native Plant Society,” she said. “Our mission is to educate people about the importance of native plants. It’s a great opportunity to heal the planet, one park at a time, one plant at a time.”

And the Hudson County Chapter of the NPSNJ was definitely active in its first year of incorporation.

A cabbage white butterfly lands on aniseed hyssop.

“We’re off to a great start and are very happy,” she said. “We have our own gardens that we work on. We planted all the time.”

The primary goal of the organization is to educate communities and give them access to native plants.

“It’s really important for us as a local to find ways to get plants to the people here and make them available to plant in the community’s parks and green spaces where people congregate,” she said.

Part of that effort includes an initial sale of native plants at the Secaucus Green Festival on May 7 from 11am to 4pm. Following this, the group will host a special Mother’s Day planting at Lincoln Park West on May 8th from 10am-11am, and they will have a nature walk with the Bayonne Nature Club at Rutkowski Park on May 9th at 6:30pm.

Attending #HudsonGives

These events are followed by the group’s participation in #HudsonGives, a 24-hour fundraiser designed to benefit charitable organizations.

Funds raised during this event will go toward planting native plants in up to ten parks and community gardens in schools across Hudson County, including: Lincoln Park West in Jersey City; Rutkowski Park in Bayonne; Triangle Park in Jersey City; Meadlowlands Park in Secaucus as part of a Rutgers Environmental Steward project; Dickinson High School in Jersey City; Canco Park in Jersey City; PS5 in Jersey City; 4H Community Learning Garden (Scout Troop 12026 Native Pollinator Garden); The Charter School of the Ethical Community; communal garden on the west slope; and Resilience Adventures in Hoboken.

The Hudson County Chapter of NPSNJ is raising money for native plants at PS5’s Jersey City nursery. Photos courtesy of NPSNJ.

“We have about 10 different parks and community gardens in schools that we will be raising money for that day to be able to buy plants and native shrubs for their garden projects,” she said. “Our hope is to raise $5,000 through this fundraiser. If we can muster that, we will put plants in it Everyone these parks.”

Native plants facilitate native wildlife in the area. As already urban Hudson County continues to rehabilitate, native plants are key to preserving local ecosystems, Correro said.

“With urbanization and development, especially in cities, we are losing our insects,” she said. “They’re not migrating as much as they used to because we’re doing so much development work. But with more parks and more people being educated about native plants, those parks are doing what they can to restore important habitats. It’s really crucial for our birds and pollinators.”

“Saving the planet, one park at a time, one plant at a time”

Additionally, planting native plants can have a positive impact on the environment at a time when climate change is the biggest concern facing the planet.

“Native plants are good for the environment, air quality and pollution,” she said. “If we have major rainstorms and flooding, native plants could help soak up some of the rainwater and pollution that enters our local streams and ponds. So it is important that we educate our communities.”

Jersey City PS5 students learn about planting in their school’s community garden.

Correro said the collaboration with the city of Secaucus is at the forefront when it comes to helping them plant native plants. She also commended other cities like Jersey City and Bayonne for trying the same, stressing the growing importance of promoting and preserving native plants and native wildlife.

“I don’t know what we would have done if we couldn’t go to the parks during that time,” she said. “We’ve always been gardeners, but this time has been very educational to learn how the ecosystem works and how biology works, biodiversity works and how the birds and pollinators need these plants. If you plant it, they will come.’

The Hudson County Chapter of NPSNJ will be hosting another native plant sale in June, followed by another in the fall. For more information email Hudson@npsnj.org or follow them on Instagram at @npsnjhudsoncounty.

For updates on this and other stories, visit www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.

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