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Teen Non-Profit Starts Sustainable Living Farms In Mahwah

'Farm to Live' received donations of land and soil to start up organic farms throughout the county, looking to help residents start their own sustainable gardens

The Mahwah Environmental Volunteers Organization  was founded in 2008 by a group of township students who wanted to help the environment. After four years of organizing park and river cleanups, tree plantings, and other volunteer activities in and around Mahwah, MEVO is expanding.

Now, in addition to what they call their “Earth Crew” efforts, the group has added the promotion of sustainable living to its agenda. This summer, MEVO will be planting and maintaining portable, organic farms throughout the county.

The new arm of the organization, called “Farm to Live,” started after MEVO’s founder and director, Eric J. Fuchs-Stengel, began attending New York University this year. “I see this as just the next chapter in expanding MEVO,” Fuchs-Stengel said. “At school, I was exposed to a more global sense of environmentalism, so I thought, ‘why not recruit some NYU kids to help expand MEVO, and bring some of the sustainability stuff I learned back to the suburbs?’”

MEVO has set up several sustainable large gardens already throughout the county – one at Bergen Community College and one at Pony Power Therapies in Mahwah, as well as several at private residences. They are working to set up potential gardens at Ramapo College, a shelter in Hackensack, and another in Carlstadt.

“We are still working everything out and figuring out the best way to put up new farms,” Fuchs-Stengel said. “But, since we are a non-profit, people hear about this initiative and get excited about it, and we get great donations.” The plots of land MEVO is using for farming were all donated, as well as many of the gardening tools they use. So far, the group is using over an acre of donated land to farm.

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Mahwah’s Mayor and got in on the action too – recently donating soil from the DPW’s compost facility to the initiative. “Mahwah mayors have helped us out since MEVO began. This soil, and the town’s support has been so awesome,” Fuchs-Stengel said.

In addition to the larger gardens the group is starting, members said they also hope to inspire people to begin their own, smaller organic farms in and outside of their homes. Members say they want to offer MEVO volunteers as a resource to locals interested in starting gardens.

“We would like to spread awareness in the community about sustainable farming. It’s all about getting a new perspective,” David Nicholson, a MEVO member from Mahwah who just finished his freshman year at Northeastern University, said. “There are more choices when it comes to the food you decide to feed yourself and your family, and if we can help people set up and maintain their gardens, I think that is a really cool first step.” Nicholson said he plans to volunteer with MEVO this summer.

In addition to volunteer opportunities, the 501 (c) 3 also offers internships to college students interested in working with the group. Members said they are always looking for new volunteers.

Get more information about starting a sustainable farm and volunteering with MEVO on the group’s website, or by contacting Eric Fuchs-Stengel at ericjfs@mevoearth.org, or 201-316-4888.

wendyb May 19, 2012 at 11:36 AM
Awesome job. You have found a nice nitch and a way to help people. God Bless.
Phyllis A. Stewart May 20, 2012 at 01:36 PM
Great idea! Wish we could have small residential vegetable gardens in all the condo areas of Mahwah. Most associations forbid them. Nothing like your own home grown veggies!
Milly Bays May 21, 2012 at 03:27 AM
It's dirt cheap.

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