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Ho-Ho-Ku Outdoor Classroom
Gail Woolcott, Director of Operations for New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association

The tasks chosen for the 2012 Day of Service Project included tree removal, clean up, creating 10 vegetable gardens, creating a butterfly sanctuary, and repair of a non-working pond.

On April 20, New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association members, staff and friends came together at the Ho-Ho-Kus Public School located in Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey, a suburban community in northern Bergen County, to create magic once again by transforming their courtyard, which was unkempt and in need of repair, to a working outdoor classroom.Following the 2010 service project at Eisenhower School, NJLCA received a letter from the Ho-Ho-Kus public school asking for assistance with their courtyard. Unfortunately, the association had already committed to doing a restoration project at Schulteis Farm in Clifton. However, in 2011, the association received a packet filled with letters from first and second grade students asking them to consider them for the next Day of Service project.

A few bunches of daffodils brightened up the courtyard from Alexander Hay Greenhouses. Shemin Nurseries donated perennials.

The letters were well-thought out and the students expressed the different types of projects they wanted to do in the courtyard.

David Huber, NJLCA director, agreed to act as chair of the Service Project Committee and upon reading the letters, set up an appointment the next day with superintendent Deborah Ferrara. Huber proceeded to create a landscape plan, which included the projects to be completed on the Day of Service, as well as several additional phases to be built in the future.

When we asked for assistance and volunteers from the membership, several of our members stood out and immediately offered their services. Al D. Landscaping and Tree Service came in while the students had their spring break and removed seven large trees, including yews and the better part of a pine tree.

Their employees spent the entire day taking down the trees, as well as hauling them out, grinding them and transporting them to the town's waste management, who were gracious enough to allow us to dump there at no charge.

The rest of the work began at 9 a.m., with Premium Aquascapes and several of their employees emptying and cleaning out the non-working pond. Meanwhile, NJLCA executive director Jody Shilan and I worked on removing old planter boxes and constructing new ones. Seven employees sent by Wilson Horticulture Group spent much of the day assisting with building the butterfly sanctuary, pouring the footings, and assisting with relocation of plant material.

Chris and Leann Raimondi of Raimondi Horticultural group showed up ready to work and assisted with the installation of planter boxes, as well as plant relocation and new plantings. Maria Mandas finished out the day planting and assisting Shilan with the remaining trellises and planter boxes.

Chris Hricik was also a great source of help, as he called in favors, lugged out old railroad ties, and helped everyone he could. In addition, Dave Huber assisted with the coordination and came through at the last minute with Top Notch Tree and ERLC, who joined us to grind up the remaining stumps.

The next morning, Downes Tree Service, a great supporter of NJLCA, brought in their equipment over the roof and blew in soil for all of the planters and the butterfly sanctuary. This will allow the children and their parents, who will be holding a project day, to plant many different vegetables in their new garden area. Trellises were built on five of the boxes for climbing vegetables such as green beans and cucumbers.

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June 18, 2019, 9:02 pm PDT

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