Free The Stone: The Difference Between Clingstone and Freestone Peaches

I’m not sure about you but I count down the days to peach season each year. Something about these sweet, yet tart fruits just screams summertime. So at the first chance I get, I head over D’Amico’s Farm Stand in Closter, New Jersey and buy some fresh peaches. What I love about D’Amico’s is the fact that the owner of this 60-year family-run business, John D’Amico, only sources from small farms within a 200-mile radius of Closter. That means, most of his delicious, freshly picked fruits and vegetables come from south Jersey, which is at the heart of the Garden State. D’Amico’s has clingstone fruit until the summer reaches its apex of heat and then begins offering freestone. So, what’s the difference?

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Clingstone peaches from Southern Jersey at D’Amico’s farm stand in Closter, NJ

At first glance, there is no difference between a clingstone and freestone peach, both fuzzy and reddish-pink on the outside. On the inside, however, is where the difference lies. The best way to figure out if your peaches are clingstone or freestone is by slicing the peach down the middle and pulling it apart. If the pit falls out easily, it is freestone. If not, clingstone.

Clingstone peaches are those that when opened, the pit sticks to the pulpy flesh of the fruit. According to goodhousekeeping.com, these peaches are rarely sold in stores but are used mostly in canned fruit. Depending on the location of the peach farm, harvest season for clingstones can range from mid-May to early August. But use them as long as you can! Their large and juicy peach-ness can be used to make great jellies, jams, purees and fantastic summer dishes.

Freestone peaches, on the other hand, separate easily from the fruit. Although larger and less juicy in texture, they are still undeniably sweet. Again, depending on the grower, freestones can be harvested from mid-June to early October. Generally freestone peaches last later into the season than clingstone peaches. They are perfect for cooking because they slice easily and uniformly, making them well-suited to great pie recipes that will leave your guests’ mouths watering.

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One of the best things about summer is the availability of fresh peaches. So whether you enjoy peaches in purees or in pies, these yummy fruits are the perfect means for sweetening up your summer.

 

-Contributions made by Sam Donsky

Container Herb Gardening With Seasons on the Hudson

I recently visited Seasons on the Hudson in Irvington, NY to participate in a container herb gardening workshop hosted by Gerald Palumbo, owner of Seasons on the Hudson and Seasons, A Floral Studio in Manhattan.

Container herb gardening is easier than I thought. These lovely little eco-systems can be customized to your palate. Love Italian cuisine? Basil, thyme, oregano and rosemary are the herbs for you. These little gardens are convenient and beautiful. Notice how Gerald liked to alternate tall and squat herbs so the containers had a visual appeal with dimension and balance.

Over the years, my containers of herbs have sat on my front steps, making an obstacle course for visitors who gingerly navigated pots teeming with fragrant mint and basil, dill, chive and parsley. My big mistake had been not using pots with irrigation holes at the bottom OR adding a buffering layer of gravel, like Gerald demonstrated, or small stones that I have on hand from terrarium building projects.

Note that Palumbo points out that herb container gardens will not grow beyond their “quarters” like herbs might when planted in the garden. Think about how mint just takes over the garden like ivy does in the yard. With regular pruning and care, these herbs will stay fresh and flavorful all summer long. Some will thrive more in the winter months will plenty of sunlight.

Not only are these beautiful planters great for cooks to use at home, but they also make perfect centerpieces. In fact, Palumbo has found that instead of conventional flower arrangements at weddings, many couples are requesting herb containers that guests can take home after the celebration.

Palumbo sells customized herb garden containers similar to the one we created in the video for $75 at his stores in both Irvington and Manhattan. They can tailor your container garden to your preferences.

Seasons, a Floral Design Studio                                        Seasons on the Hudson

888 8th Avenue                                                                          45 Main Street

New York, NY 10019                                                                 Irvington, NY 10533

phone: 212.586.2257                                                                phone: 914.591.7377

Thanks to Miko, manager of the Irvington shop, for filming this video.

 

Contributions made by Sam Donsky

Container Herb Gardening: A Growing Trend

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Seasons on the Hudson’s container herb garden

Even though I have plenty of garden space, I love the flexibility that containers give me: pots of basil, parsley and rosemary are standard on my kitchen counter all year round. I keep big pots of chives on my front steps for snipping into salads and soups. I have been growing herbs this way with relative success over the years. I wanted to know more though. Should herbs be intermingled? Do some varieties just need their own private pot to thrive? What kind of drainage should pots have? How much water? And sun?

I reached out to Gerald Palumbo, the owner of Seasons on the Hudson in Irvington, NY and Seasons: A Floral Design Studio in Manhattan for the answers.  

Q: What are the biggest myths about container herb gardening? Is it true that you can grow a garden in a vessel as small as a teacup?

A: Myth: herbs will live indefinitely indoors. Many herbs like basil, parsley, cilantro, and dill are annuals and will only do well through one growing seasons. Other herbs like rosemary, thyme, sage and oregano are perennials and may live for many years if they are well taken care of. With regard to planting herbs in small containers such as a teacup, keep in mind that the smaller the container the smaller the plant will remain.

Q: What are the herbs that are ideally planted with each other? Which herbs should not be planted together and why?

A: You generally want to plant herbs together that prefer the same light and moisture conditions:  For example rosemary, lavender, thyme, and oregano tend to like drier soil and lots of sun. Herbs like basil, chives, parsley and dill prefer moister soil.  

Q: What are some considerations for containers with herbs which will be kept indoors?

A: With the proper light conditions most herbs can be kept indoors. Frequent cutting of the herbs and regular fertilizing will promote continual growth.

Q: What is the basic care of herb containers for outdoors living in the summer season?

A: When herb gardens are placed outside during the summer, proper watering is crucial. Plants tend to dry out quicker when in containers, especially terra cotta.

Q: What is the ideal container made of for herb planting?

A: I prefer terra cotta for the herbs that prefer a drier soil and I prefer plastic or ceramic containers for the moisture-loving varieties. Good drainage is always important.

Q: What are three rules of thumb for container planting?

A: Choose the proper container with good drainage. Use a good potting soil. Always water your container very well after planting.

Q: For herbs being mixed in container planters, does close proximity impact things like taste and growth?

A: Flavor of the herbs is not affected by how close they are planted to each other. I like to plant the herbs that I like to cook with and it is always nice to have fresh herbs on the kitchen window sill in the winter.

Seasons on the Hudson will host a container herb garden workshop on Sunday, June 19th, at “Celebrate Irvington” where you can learn how to create a beautiful herb garden for your kitchen table, patio, or as a nice gift for someone. The cost is $75 per person and covers the workshop and provided materials for an herb container garden you can take home with you. Timing is flexible. For registration and details visit: http://bit.ly/1S41O2l

WHEN

Sunday, 19 June 2016 from 11:00 to 16:00 (EDT)

WHERE

Seasons On The Hudson – 45 Main Street, Irvington, NY

 

 

Contributions made by Sam Donsky

Take the Local Based in Long Valley, NJ: A Celebration of Small Farmers

TTL_LOGO

If you look at the statistics it appears that the days of the American small farmer are numbered.  In 1935, there were just short of seven million farms dotting our nation’s fertile landscape.  Today, that number has dropped to a mere two million.  That decrease doesn’t correspond with a decline in overall food production – on the contrary, we’re churning out more grains, meat, and produce than ever before to feed our growing population.  The difference is that in the past small farmers were the kings of agriculture but now they struggle to compete with the massive enterprises (aka factory farms) that dominate the modern agribusiness scene.

When a small farmer is quashed, we lose a lot more than just a vital fixture in the local community.  We lose access to fresh, locally grown, nourishing and flavorful food.  That farmer’s disappearance is linked to not only loss of economic stimulus to a local community, but has devastating consequences for insects that cohabitate with crops, namely the important honey bee.  And without honey bees, our nation’s entire agri system is deeply and irrevocably impacted.

Take the Local, a start-up in Long Valley, NJ has some ambitious plans to support the Garden State’s dwindling farmer population and the communities it serves.  Created by Anthony and Jonelle Hemsey, the couple drew much of their inspiration from Jonelle’s multi-generational roots in Alberta, Canada cattle ranching.  Jonelle witnessed firsthand just how desperate the struggle has become for small farmers to stay afloat and with Anthony organized Take the Local to support their shared passion for preserving local agri-culture.  Take The Local strives to be more than just a company – they want to encourage a movement to “create innovative, healthy and sustainable business opportunities around local farm economies.”

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Take the Local aims to strengthen the connection between local farmers and their communities

In speaking with their founder and director Anthony Hemsey (who happens to be a former ad executive at Deutsch and more recently an EVP at a global software firm), I learned that the Take the Local team view themselves as “half technologists and half foodies.”  Take The Local wants to use modern technologies to connect local farmers with restaurateurs and individual consumers in innovative ways. The company is exploring several different avenues in pursuit of this goal, one of which involves using digital and mobile technology.

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Anthony Hemsey, founder and director of Take the Local

An example of this techie approach to food solutions is their FARMventory which is basically a LinkedIn-like platform designed with farmers in mind.  Farmers can use this platform to list and track their inventories in real time as well as highlight the farming practice(s) they employ on their farm. It’s all in an effort to make the process streamlined, transparent, and easier for distributors, restaurants, and general consumers to see what’s available at the point of purchase. Take the Local is also working on something called AisleEatRight, an interactive food shopping platform geared towards people with special dietary needs or restrictions.  Both programs are slated to launch in Q2 2014.

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Anthony’s wife, Jonelle Hemsey – Director of Community Events

Take the Local also hosts Supper Clubs which are traveling dinner parties featuring local chefs who create menus using locally sourced food.  These Supper Clubs are all about bringing farmers, chefs, and the community closer together.   Take the Local Winter Supper Club featuring Chef Jessica Geanoules will take place on January 18, 2014 from 8:00PM to 11:00PM in Washington Township, NJ ($100/ticket).  Guests will enjoy an intimate, three course meal of local seasonal fare as well as wine pairing served in a rustic setting (former lumber yard).  Proceeds from the Winter Supper Club will be donated to Community FoodBank of New Jersey.

TTL_KIDS-page-001Take the Local is also gearing up to launch a limited line of first run frozen food developed specifically for kids.  This line has a unique tech spin, featuring packaging iconography that is scannable by smartphones that includes information on the partner farms, interviews/videos, as well as detailed dietary information for concerned consumers.

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Some of the “fresh from the farm” ingredients that go into Take The Local’s new frozen food line

Take The Local’s model may be just the ticket for the paradigm shift that needs to take place in order to ensure a healthy and sustainable future. Retail buyers can connect with the Take The Local team by emailing food@takethelocal.com.

BareBurger: Putting (Organic) Meat on the Table – New Restaurant in Edgewater, NJ

Talking to Oguz Buyukbas, owner of BareBurger in Edgewater, NJ

When we talk about organic, sustainable, all-natural food we tend to devote a lot of attention to fruits and veggies while giving meat the cold shoulder. That’s because the meat found in many restaurants and grocery stores contains traces of pesticides, growth hormones, and antibiotics – a far cry from organic. But environmentally conscious carnivores in the tri-state area can rejoice because the restaurant micro-chain BareBurger is demonstrating that you don’t have to take meat off the menu to be sustainable.

BareBurger started back in 2009 in Astoria and has since expanded into eight restaurants with more on the way.  At the invitation of BareBurger, we had the opportunity to try out their brand new Edgewater, NJ location. There’s a sophisticated, earthy vibe that fills the space with glass garage doors serving as a front facade in the tony City Place complex. The bamboo floor, tables and chairs made from reclaimed wood add to that atmosphere while driving home the fact the BareBurger is concerned with sustainability.

Our server was friendly and very knowledgeable about the menu, where the food comes from, and so on. I was particularly impressed with the sheer variety of items on BareBurger’s menu – not to mention the fact that the majority of items are organic. They proudly emphasize the fact that their meat comes from free range animals that were humanely raised without the use of pesticides or other substances.  All dairy, produce and even ice cream are organic.

Starting out with a root beer float with organic ice cream and root beer from Maine Root
Starting out with a root beer float  made with organic ice cream and root beer from Maine Root

Carnivorous fare – with standard options like beef, chicken, turkey, and lamb along with more exotic alternatives like elk, bison, and ostrich, are the primary draw and offered up in a tantalizing array of themes and with myriad toppings.  Milkshakes and root beer floats were promptly ordered (16 oz., thank you) and come with a shovel-ended straw for sipping convenience. My daughter Olivia thoroughly enjoyed the chocolate milkshake with dark chocolate chunks suspended in the rich, custardy conconction.  Shakes also come in vanilla, peanut butter, strawberry, banana, and raspberry flavors ($6.95 for 16 oz.). Multiple salads are offered and dressings taste homemade and fresh.  The caesar dressing went over well. Fries are hand-cut and portions are large, arriving with dipping sauces. Thick cut onion rings are freshly battered and crispy.

Close-up on crazy thick and dark chocolate chunk-studded shake
Close-up on crazy thick and dark chocolate chunk-studded shake

Burgers were cooked as ordered and nicely flavored, even if somewhat eclipsed by the brioche bun.  BareBurger offers gluten-free buns. Multiple varieties of buns are available. You get the concept:  start with the 6 oz. bare burger (animal of your choice) and build from there.  The location is right across the street from the multiplex theater and I imagine it’s caught on quickly in its first month+ of business as a good dinner option pre- or post-movie.  It’s worthy as a destination as well though and is popular with the stroller set.  Large flat screens are tuned to cartoons (muted) while rock plays in the background.

Lamb burger on GF bun with Carolina slaw
Lamb burger on GF bun with Carolina slaw
Fries and onion rings
Fries and onion rings
Interior shot
Interior shot
Cheeseburger with slab bacon
Cheeseburger with slab bacon
A loaded up burger
A loaded up burger

Desserts are unexpectedly decadent, presented with decoration in the style of fancier eateries.  The flourless chocolate cake (GF) with amarena cherries was decadently rich as was apple tart.  Milk shakes are listed under desserts/sweets, and for good reason. The hot honey milk shake is on my must-have list for my next visit. Multiple options for breakfast diners are also available. Menu items are all noted with a GF for gluten-free, V for vegan and N for nuts. Numerous wrap and sandwich options are offered as well.

Cranberry Blue Salad

Cranberry Blue Salad

View their full menu and restaurant locations by visiting their website at http://www.bareburger.com/.  Oguz, the owner, tells me he has plans to open several more BareBurgers in the Garden State, with Ridgewood his next stop.

Flourless chocolate cake with cherry compote
Flourless chocolate cake with cherry compote
Apple tart with caramel
Apple tart with caramel

BareBurger

78 Promenade
Edgewater, NJ 07020

tel: 201.941.2273 (BARE)

Monday to Friday  11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Saturday & Sunday 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

www.bareburger.com

8 North Broadway – Nyack, NY – Mediterranean Fare

8 North Broadway, Nyack - Melanie Lust photography
8 North Broadway, Nyack – Melanie Lust photography

Constantine Kalandranis is a humble, poetic man and a very talented chef. At 33 years old, he’s proving to be a savvy businessman as well. It’s likely that his Nyack, NY patrons at 8 North Broadway, open since December, agree on all counts. A native of Astoria, Kalandranis has a passion for prime seafood, meat, produce, bread and pastry and organic ingredients, frequently sourcing from Hudson county and neighboring regions and importing fish from around the globe. The quality of ingredients shows in dishes, elevated by simple, thoughtful preparations that are Mediterranean at their core. Kalandranis helms the kitchen with chef Hichem Habbas, another native of Astoria. From his earlier days at Anthos, Exo, Gus & Gabriels, Kalandranis brings with him a deep appreciation for smart, straightforward executions that elevate pristine ingredients. No corners are cut. Everything on the menu is made fresh from scratch daily, using organic ingredients when possible. Flat and pita bread are hand rolled and baked on premises, served steaming from the oven or charred from the grill. Olives and fragrant fresh herbs abound here, creating food that is both sensuous and satisfying.

Phone calls in the wee morning hours inform Kalandranis about the best seafood offerings, with decisions made between two and three AM that will influence the menu, which is printed several hours later. This translates into a vibrantly fresh, fluid menu with lovely surprises for patrons eager to experience new types of fish or traditional proteins that are true to their authentic, free-range flavors. Meats are given equal consideration and heft, most sourced from farms within 200 miles of the restaurant.

Like Kalandranis, Richard Mitchell, general manager, is a class act. His polished style brings a humming efficiency to the front of the house, where wait staff are attentive, knowledgeable and friendly. Staff is young, confident and good looking, creating a relaxed energy that puts diners at ease. While there’s a comfortable distance between tables, the atmosphere seems to invite easy chatter between tables, sparking discussion of dishes. The Nyack zeitgeist is warm and convivial and 8 North Broadway’s patrons are clearly at home here. Regulars are warmly welcomed and newcomers made to feel at home. The bar teems with solo diners and small groups sharing mezze and wine.

Subsequent visits indicate that the restaurant is beloved by area restaurateurs and chefs alike, with its Monday nights bustling with the owners of Nyack eateries stopping in for dinner or simply a drink at the lovely brass bar, which seats 16.

Interior shot - Melanie Lust photography
Interior shot – Melanie Lust photography

The 48-seat restaurant open for lunch in the fall. Sunday brunch starts at 11:00am and is more suitable for younger patrons than weekend evenings.

Mezze plate with 9 salads and spreads ($23) - Melanie Lust photography
Mezze plate with 9 salads and spreads ($23) – Melanie Lust photography
A bustling Friday night
A bustling Friday night
Pickled olives, celery and fennel whet the appetite
Pickled olives, celery and fennel whet the appetite
Plump, briny oysters at $2.50 each with pickled vegetable mignonette and brined beet pair beautifully with a sparkling rose from Spain, Penedes' Pinord Reynal ($33/bottle)
Plump, briny oysters at $2.50 each with pickled vegetable mignonette and brined beet pair beautifully with a sparkling rose from Spain, Penedes’ Pinord Reynal ($33/bottle)

The ever-changing menu is divided into four sections: small cold plates; small hot plates; main dishes; and additions. Desserts are posted on a separate menu and include a selection of house-made items and suggested wines to pair them with. A thoughtfully curated wine list showcasing elegant, small production Mediterranean wineries at reasonable glass and bottle prices is offered.

Mezze are meant to excite the appetite and 8 North Broadway executes these foreplay items beautifully. Small cold plates range from $7 for seasonal crostini of carviar dip, white anchovy and shaved red onion to $13 for shaved lamb loin carpaccio with lemon oil, pickled chick pea salad, dandelion and pecorino. All the offerings are designed to whet the appetite, mixing briny, salty bites with sparkling flavors of the sea. The local beet salad ($12) is delectable with Vermont feta, red onion, olives, kale, a silken hummus and the restaurant’s chewy, warm, hand-rolled pita.

seared diver scallops with toasted almonds, braised cherries and sumac atop silken hummus
seared diver scallops with toasted almonds, braised cherries and sumac atop silken hummus

Small hot plates are excellent for sharing. Sizzling Spanish octopus ($14) is served in a sizzling cast iron skillet, with charred vegetables and a red wine vinaigrette. The texture of the octopus was pleasantly toothsome, delivering a punch of flavor. Other hot mezze items include sardines a la plancha served with Sicilian bread salad and crushed pistachio ($13) and a lovely seared diver scallop ($14) with toasted almonds, braised cherries and sumac atop a puddle of that smooth hummus. If I had to choose one favorite item from this part of the menu, the scallop would be it. Its balanced smoky, salty flavors mingle with the delicate tart, tangy sweetness of the cherries, playing beautifully on the tongue. Go with the muscadet just to celebrate this winning appetizer, a Sevre Et Maine, David Duvallet, Loire, France, 2011 ($10/glass – $37/bottle), an ideal counter with bright fruitiness.

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Gewurstraminer, from Warwick Valley Winery Upstate, 2011 ($9/glass or $32/bottle) is crisp, a fine choice for any of the mezze items. Even the Macon-Villages, Roux Pere & Fils, a French Burgundy, 2010, ($11/glass or $39/bottle) would also be worth considering.

In the Main Dishes category, seafood is sure to tempt, with multiple daily specials servers will describe and staples like grilled sea bass with bitter greens, lemon potatoes and capers (market priced). But don’t ignore the other proteins, like a Heritage Farm Pork Chop ($29) served with white polenta,sage, pork belly and tomato broth. Grilled Colorado Lamb ($36) is more deeply flavored and, well, lamb-y, than its Australian cousin. It’s plated with a Sardinian couscous, mint, pickled apricot and flatbread. Grass-fed beef ribeye ($39) is nicely charred, and served with addictive crispy yucca frites, melted onion and rosemary. This is another excellent non-fish option and beef lovers will enjoy its true beefiness and excellent marbling. Vegetarians have the option of a tasting plate ($22) with red quinoa, braised sherry mushrooms, bitter greens and legumes. Or they can also opt for multiple mezze items.

selection of sliced pork, beef, lamb and chicken
selection of sliced pork, beef, lamb and chicken

Additions range from braised organic beans with tumeric ($6) to white polenta with yogurt ($6) and are nicely portioned.

Desserts are homey and satisfying with plenty of options for those who are chocolate lovers, gluten-free and/or fans of yogurt, honey and nuts, which take leading roles on the menu.

8 North Broadway offers delicious, sexy food, polished service, a warm ambiance and another wonderful reason to visit Nyack.

Hours: Monday-Saturday 5:30pm and Sunday at 11:00am. Look for lunch in the fall. Reservations recommended. Private parties welcome. (845) 353-1200 • info@8northbroadway.com www.8northbroadway.com

4th Annual Green Screen Environmental Film Series, NNJ’s 1st, Kicks Off at Bibi’z, Westwood, January 31

DearGovernorCuomo[POSTER]Westwood’s 4th Annual “Green Screen” Brings Educational and Entertaining Environmental Films to Bergen County

Northern New Jersey’s First & Only Environmental Film Series Kicks Off With Reception at Bibi’z Restaurant, January 31

Westwood’s Fourth Annual “Green Screen” — a week-long festival of fascinating and informative environmental films — will kick off on Thursday, January 31, 2013 and run through February 6, 2013 at the Westwood Cinema, 182 Center Avenue, Westwood, NJ and at the Westwood Public Library, 49 Park Avenue, Westwood, NJ. The Green Screen film series is Northern New Jersey’s only environmental film festival and features six award-winning, widely acclaimed films not shown in local theaters. As the festival’s premiere event, the new Sundance-winning documentary, Chasing Ice, will be shown for the first time in Northern New Jersey. Other films in the series, PLANEAT and FRESH, focus on healthy eating and sustainable farming; the latter’s free screening featuring a talk from Ramsey native and Blooming Hills organic farmer Guy Jones.

This year, in addition to the outstanding films, the Green Screen invites filmgoers to attend a pre-festival reception on Thursday, January 31st at 6:00 p.m. at Bibi’z Restaurant, 284 Center Avenue, Westwood, NJ where organic and sustainably produced hot and cold hors d’oeuvres and wines will be served. The pre-festival reception is tickets-only. The price of all six films plus the Pre-Film Reception at Bibi’z Restaurant is $35. All films are priced separately or are free. For a full schedule and pricing information, or to purchase tickets, go to: http://westwoodpubliclibrary.weebly.com/4th-annual-green-screen.html.

Organized by the Westwood Public Library and Westwood Cinema along with the non-profit groups United for Earth and Pascack Sustainability, the 4th Annual Green Screen brings to Bergen County an outstanding lineup of award-winning documentaries focused on key environmental issues, from the undeniable evidence of climate change in the melting Arctic glaciers, to an emerging global sustainable food movement, to the hazards of automobile idling and plastics in our environment. Co-sponsors to the festival include: ClimateMama, Food & Water Watch NJ, and 350.orgNJ. The festival’s media sponsor is Community Life.

Chasing Ice tells the story of National Geographic photographer and former climate skeptic James Balog, who uses time-lapse cameras to capture glaciers in motion as they disappear at an astonishing rate. The film earned Best Cinematography at Sundance Film Festival and Best Documentary by the Environmental Media Association and will be shown at Westwood Cinema at 8:00 p.m. on January 31st. Co-sponsors Harriet Shugarman of ClimateMama, Aditi Sen of United for Earth, and Rosemary Dreger Carey of Pascack Sustainability & 350.orgNJ will lead a discussion after the film. Tickets for the screening are $10.

PLANEAT (72 mins.) — The story of a search for a diet that is good for our health and good for the future of the planet. Through personal interviews with a top scientist, a leading physician, world class chefs and farmers, the film explores the link between diet and disease, and how our food choices contribute to global warming, land use and oceanic dead zones. PLANEAT will be shown on Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 7:30 pm at Westwood Cinema. Tickets are $10.

Dear Governor Cuomo (75 mins.) — This award-winning documentary uses music and cautionary narrative to explain the threats of the controversial energy drilling process known as “fracking” and to motivate people to rise up against the practice. With music-direction by Natalie Merchant, the film features actors Mark Ruffalo and Melissa Leo, environmental biologist Sandra Steingraber, and musicians Joan Osborne, Citizen Cope, Medeski Martin and Wood and The Felice Brothers. Dear Governor Cuomo will be shown on Wednesday, February 6, 2013 at 7:30 pm at Westwood Cinema. Tickets: $10. Co-sponsor Matt Smith of Food & Water Watch NJ will provide information before and after the film.

In addition to the films shown at Westwood Cinema, the Green Screen Film Festival will feature free documentary films and opportunities for discussion at the Westwood Public Library, 49 Park Ave., Westwood NJ:

Bag It: Is Your Life Too Plastic? (78 mins.) What started as a documentary about plastic bags evolved into a wholesale investigation into plastics and their effect on our waterways, oceans, and even our bodies. Discussion after film will include an invitation to join the Bag It movement and decide for yourself how plastic your life will be. The film will be show on Saturday, Saturday, February 2 at 2:00 p.m. Westwood Public Library. Admission is free. Co-sponsors Pascack Sustainability & 350.orgNJ will lead a discussion after the film.

FRESH (72 mins.) celebrates the farmers, thinkers and business people across America who are re-inventing our food system by forging healthier, sustainable alternatives. The film will be shown Sunday February 3 at 3:00 p.m. at Westwood Public Library. Co-sponsor Pascack Sustainability and local farmer Guy Jones of Blooming Hill Farm, Blooming Grove, NJ will lead a discussion after the film. Admission to the film is free.

IDLE THREAT (60 mins.) is an inspiring documentary film about one man’s resilient struggle with the NYPD to enforce a 38 year-old anti-engine idling law in order to reduce air pollution and battle global warming. Against all odds, he succeeds and in the process, gets worldwide recognition, and improves the quality of life in New York. The film will be shown Monday, February 4 at 7:00 p.m. at Westwood Public Library. Admission to the film is free.

Pascack Sustainability Group is a non-profit with a mission to raise environmental awareness and promote sustainable practices in the Pascack Valley towns of Northern New Jersey. For more information, visit http://www.pascacksustainabilitygroup.org.

United for Earth is a non-profit organization which with its subsidiary Kids for Earth offers workshops, earth fairs, and kids scouting programs that are designed to enable both young and old to embrace sustainable living habits. For more information, visit http://www.unitedforearth.org and http://www.kidsforearth.org.