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It Is Easy Being Green!

Eco Tree with environment symbolsKermit the Frog might have had it tough, but in 2013 it’s easier than ever to be green! It’s becoming increasingly clear that as it relates to the environment, protecting the health of our families and loved ones both now and for generations to come is a growing and significant concern. Cost efficiency and resource impact are also some of the most important reasons that people make the choice to focus on sustainable green living. There are lots of small ways to make a big difference starting right in your own home, and I’ll be sharing tips and info in the coming weeks and months on how you and your family can accomplish this. Today’s focus: home gardening!

These days, organic and sustainable farming and gardening are becoming less of the exception and more of the rule. Growing one’s own food is the ONLY way to know what’s really in it, and very few states have made strides to afford its citizens the right to know what’s in the products they purchase and feed to their families every day. The good news is that you can easily become a part of this rapidly growing movement…straight from your kitchen! Even the smallest spaces can accomodate plentiful planting using creative, recycled materials and organic fair trade seeds. If you’re lucky enough to have a backyard with some room to set up larger and more varied crops, the home gardening world is your oyster. Go as simple or sophisticated as you’d like – whatever works for you is a huge step forward!!!

Ecologically speaking, you can’t beat home organic gardening compared to the other options out there today. When you go organic, there’s no need to worry about pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals, preservatives and additives that you’ll find in most conventional foodstuffs. Plus, with just a bit of extra effort, you can create your own completely self-sustaining garden space by using nature’s own answer to recycling: composting! Plus, you don’t need to worry about contributing to the overwhelmingly omnipresent carbon footprint. Keeping things ultra-local (i.e. your kitchen , yeard, rootftop) means no coughing up the cash to fuel up and head to the grocery store, where gas-guzzling planes and trucks have distributed and delivered often-mysterious, often-suspect foodstuffs from far and wide.

Perhaps the best way for a family to ease into home gardening is to make it a group project. Everybody helps, and everybody wins! If kids learn early on how important it is to be healthy and pay attention to what they are eating and why, they’ll be ingrained to take those important factors into account for the rest of their lives and will pass it on to their own families. Don’t treat it like work – find fun ways to pep up the process. Create personalized gardening kits for the kids using their favorite images, characters and interests to incorporate the things they love into something else they’ll come to cherish. You can also let them decorate their gear on their own to give them a sense of independence and pride in every step of the process. Give each member of the family a particular plant (or multiple crops) to focus on. Kids will take ownership of their planting, and the sense of satisfaction and accomplishment generated by your harvest will prove to be an incredibly positive experience for the whole family!

Sometimes home gardening, for one reason or another, just isn’t feasible and that’s OK. There are alternative ways to support sustainable production and distribution. Why not try a CSA (community-supported agriculture), co-op or local farmers market? Here in Rockland County, you’ve got plenty of options!

And what would a post about gardening be without a recipe that allows you to enjoy the fruits (and veggies) of your labor?!? Here’s a delicious example of what you can make from what you’ve grown…

Haloumi, Snap Pea, and Zucchini Salad

Haloumi-Pea-Zucchini-Salad-300Serves: 4
Prep:  5 min
Cook: 5 min
Total: 10 min


1/2 lb sugar snap peas, strings removed
4 oz Haloumi cheese, cut into 4 slices
1/2 lb baby zucchini, trimmed and halved lengthwise
2 tsp olive oil
2 tbsp fresh mint leaves
1 lemon, cut into 6 wedges


1. Prepare lightly oiled grill for medium heat.

2. Cook snap peas in pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain in colander and transfer to bowl of ice water. Once cool, drain and halve crosswise.

3. Coat cheese and zucchini lightly with olive oil spray. Grill, turning, until zucchini is golden and tender, 4 minutes, and cheese is browned and crisp, 5 minutes. Cut zucchini crosswise into bite-size pieces and break cheese into chunks.

4. Combine snap peas, zucchini, cheese, oil, and mint in large bowl. Squeeze 2 lemon wedges over salad and toss. Season and serve with remaining lemon wedges.

Nutritional facts per serving:

Calories     153.8 cal
Fat     9.8 g
Saturated fat     0.4 g
Cholesterol     0 mg
Sodium     11.6 mg
Carbohydrates     8.1 g
Total sugars     3.5 g
Dietary fiber     2 g
Protein     8.3 g

Until next time…live happy, live healthy, live green!

Nicole Stern - William Raveis Baer & McIntosh Real Estate


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