CONTACT: Seb D’Elia, (908) 527-4419


By Angel G. Estrada
Chairman, Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders

By now, many Union County residents have heard of the Freeholder Board’s 2008 Go Green Initiative. We’re drawing on Union County’s experience in environmental programming to conserve more energy and natural resources, and keep more toxic chemicals out of the environment.

One of our best green resources is the Master Gardeners of Union County. This group of dedicated volunteers is trained by agricultural experts through the Rutgers Cooperative Extension. In turn they provide the public with free access to their knowledge and experience.

This wonderful volunteer service can go a long way toward helping you go green at home. With expert advice from the Master Gardeners, you can enjoy a yard that is less dependent on chemicals, and healthier for your family and for the environment.

You can contact a Master Gardener through their Volunteer Helpline at (908) 654-9852, or by email at Or, visit their new web site at

If you come across a mysterious plant or insect, you don’t have to reach for herbicides or pesticides. The Master Gardeners can help you identify it, and recommend safe ways to keep it from overrunning your yard.

If you’re thinking of using a fertilizer, the Master Gardeners can help you order a convenient test from the Rutgers Soil Testing Laboratory. The test will help you use the right amount of fertilizer, so your yard can thrive without harm to plants and waterways.

The Master Gardeners can also help you choose hardy native plants for your yard. Because they grow healthfully without extra water or chemicals, native plants save money on utility bills, herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizer.

Converting vegetable scraps into compost is another budget-wise area in which the Master Gardeners offer expert advice. Kitchen compost is a free, all-natural soil booster that helps your plants grow without chemicals.

The Master Gardeners’ Demonstration Garden welcomes visitors. It is located by the Trailside Nature and Science Center in Union County’s Watchung Reservation, in Mountainside. Among its projects, the garden raises flowers and vegetables for donation to health care facilities and community food banks in Union County.

You can find out more about all of Union County’s environmental resources by visiting us at

Working together, we are all on the road to cleaner, healthier communities.