The 1000 Acres Project is an ongoing effort led by the Green Ridgewood organization to make Ridgewood a more sustainable place. The goal is to have 1000 acres of land–roughly a third of all the land in Ridgewood–converted to sustainable uses. Its plan for accomplishing that goal is convincing local homeowners to commit to having a more earth-friendly yard, since much of the green space in Ridgewood is made up of private yards. The concept of a perfectly emerald green, cropped yard is something that many in Ridgewood spend a lot of money and time trying to achieve, but it is both unrealistic and unsustainable. That concept originated with royal estates in Scotland, where it rains all the time (no need for watering) and sheep would graze the grass every day (no need for mowing).
In 21st century Ridgewood, however, it makes no sense as a status symbol and guzzles lots of precious water and energy for something that is rarely used. Instead of the perfect green lawn, the 1000 Acres Project urges homeowners to plant native species, a few examples of which include blueberries, asters, and goldenrods. Native species are well adapted to the New Jersey climate, so homeowners don’t have to waste water on them. The Project also recommends that people stop using gas mowers and leaf blowers, which are not only a nuisance but emit a lot of CO2, contributing to global warming.
A yard planted with hardy native species is not only cheaper and more sustainable, it is also more likely to survive and even mitigate weather events like droughts and the gigantic flood that occurred last September. All of this is something to consider as the residents of Ridgewood start planting their spring gardens.