Green Fair Set for June 4

by Gabrielle Capaldo
Vineland received a Sustainable Jersey certification in 2017. From left: Randall Solomon, executive director, Sustainable Jersey; Anne-Marie Peracchio, chairperson, Sustainable Jersey Board of Trustees; Ariana McTamney, Vineland Green Team coordinator; Vineland Green Team members Diane Amico and Ryan Headley.

For the first time in its history, the City of Vineland Green Team is hosting a Green Fair; it will be in partnership with the Greater Vineland Chamber of Commerce. Expect a free family-friendly event with electric cars, a farmers market, free reusable bags, soil testing, as well as exhibits, businesses and demonstrations that promote sustainable living. The fair will be held on June 4 (rain date June 5), from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Vineland High School South Campus.

“Our goal is to show attendees that there are many ways, both big and small, to go green and to live a more sustainable lifestyle,” says Diane Amico, environmental health specialist for the City of Vineland.

“We are always so proud to partner with the City of Vineland on an event or program,” Dawn Hunter, executive director of the Vineland Chamber of Commerce, says. “I hope the community comes out and enjoys the fun!”

Local vendors, live music and fun for the whole family make exciting additions to this educational outdoor event.

One of the small contributions to the environment that the Green Fair promotes is the function of reusable bags. “We are going to have a recycling coordinator teaching about the recent bag ban and handing out reusable ones to the community,” Green Team and planning committee member Ryan Headley says. “Hopefully this will help everyone understand the ban better and realize it’s an easy step to take.”

The Rutgers Master Gardeners will also be in attendance, teaching individuals about lawn and garden care. “Rutgers Master Gardeners of Cumberland County are trained volunteers who assist the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES) Cooperative Extension in its mission to deliver horticulture education to the public,” Lauren Fordyce, master gardener coordinator, says. “We hope we can encourage folks to reach out to us for free help with their lawn and garden needs.”

With Vineland’s rich agricultural history, residents and farmers may wonder about the health of their soil. Thankfully, the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service will be offering free on-site soil testing at the fair. Anyone is welcome to bring a sample for testing.

While fairgoers are learning these small ways to help the environment, they will also see some exciting larger options. That’s right, the fair will have an impressive display of electric cars. The South Jersey Chapter of the Delaware Valley Tesla Owners Club will be in attendance along with a fleet of Tesla vehicles. “We are hoping to bring one of every model,” Tesla chapter leader Arthur Schalick says.

Fair attendees will have the opportunity to look, talk about and sit in the Tesla vehicles. “We help Tesla’s mission in transitioning the world to sustainable energy by educating future car owners,” Schalick adds. “We love showing off our cars and would love to help dispel any myths surrounding them.”

The fair is hosted by the City of Vineland’s Green Team, a group of individuals dedicated to promoting sustainable living in the community. This Green Team was established in 2017 as a result of Vineland becoming one of only three cities in Cumberland County to receive a Sustainable Jersey certification.

According to the City of Vineland website, “Sustainable Jersey is a statewide initiative focused on helping municipalities identify and implement strategies to improve energy efficiency, reduce environmental impacts, and improve the quality of life for Vineland residents.”

One of the founders of the Green Team, Adriana McTamney, who is also an accountant for the City of Vineland and the fair coordinator, shares about the planning process that led to this event: “We originally planned to have the fair in 2020, but due to the pandemic we had to postpone it until this year.”

“We are very fortunate that we still have the opportunity to throw this event,” Headley adds. “We received a grant in 2019 from PSEG Sustainable Jersey for the fair and the funding normally expires within a year, but they were gracious enough to extend it.”

The Green Team anticipates, and hopes, the fair will draw between 500 and 1,000 people. “We have over 25 vendors signed up,” Headley says. A local band, Trainwreck, is providing live entertainment, Vineland High School is giving tours of its butterfly garden and the Vineland Fire Department will have a fun obstacle training course for kids.

The fair will have many educational exhibits and demonstrations about sustainable living. There will be a farmer’s market selling fresh produce from Vineland Farms. The Health Department will have presentations on healthy meals to assist families in weekly meal prepping. And a personal trainer will run a demonstration class to help people learn how to stay healthy.

While the fair may be a one-day-only event, the Green Team hopes that it will be a catalyst for long-term change in the community. “Not only do we hope this event provides resources and ideas for people to live more sustainably,” McTamney says, “but we also hope it brings the community closer together. This is a wonderful city and everyone in it cares so much about making it a better place to live.”

“This is our home, and we want to see the community thrive,” Headley says.

The Green Team is accepting new members and promotes more than just environmental sustainability. “The Sustainable Jersey program has a lot of different aspects of sustainability—from arts and culture to the environment,” Headley says. “We’d love to see this team grow.”

A sign-up sheet will be available to Vineland residents at the fair to join the Green Team.

“There’s so much going on in the world now,” Headley says, “and a lot of it is out of our control, but sometimes there are small things we can do that will one day make a big difference.”