Auto Spa Owner Opens Garden
Vegetables have already spring up in their own small plots inside fenced-off area at the Wayne Auto Spa. More than a dozen chickens walk around a coop next to the garden.
Residents, community leaders, and town officials formally opened Burke's garden at Burke's business, Wayne Auto Spa, this weekend.
Rob Burke, who owns Wayne Auto Spa, created the garden not just as a project for himself, but as something the entire community can benefit from. There are also 16 chickens, which have their own living space next to the garden, on the property.
"There's not a negative in this, there's not an endgame," Burke said. "This is an ongoing, forever kind of thing and I'm getting a tremendous amount of satisfaction doing this."
Burke has been involved in an ongoing litigation with the township regarding the fate of him wanting to build a wind turbine to generate clean energy for his Hamburg Turnpike car wash.
The garden and chickens are the latest elements in Burke's venture into environmentally friendly business practices. Burke will also create his own compost.
Five-dozen solar panels on the roof generate 15,000-kilowatt hours worth of electricity a year. A water reclamation system cuts down the number of gallons needed to wash a vehicle from 50 to 15. He also recycles motor oil and uses it to heat his business.
Victor Alfieri, a self-taught expert on sustainable living, gardening, and chicken hens, helped Burke design and install the garden and chicken coop. Alfieri also helping install a garden at Thenuis Dey Elementary School and is helping DePaul high school put one on its property.
Alfieri said that raising chickens in one's backyard is an essential part of the sustainability movement.
Alfieri has tried for years to get the town to change its laws regarding chicken hens. He is currently awaiting a ruling by a municipal judge on whether or not he can keep his three chickens on his property.
"There is such a benefit to all of this," Alfieri said. "It all goes together. The gardening, the chickens, everything."
Mayor Chris Vergano cut the ribbon with Burke to formally open the garden. Such gardens were popular in the United States at the end of World War II. Residents across the country installed what were called victory gardens on their property to help feed their families. They also sold the produce they grew to their neighbors and other residents.
Vergano spokes positively of the project.
"It's something new, but something old too," Vergano said.
The township is involved in its own projects to foster a greater sense of sustainability.
"We're getting back to the basics," said Rich Stomber, chairman of the Wayne Environmental Commission. "People who have never gardened before are getting into it now and it seems to be bringing people together."
Burke will give away fresh eggs and vegetables at the car wash. He is accepting donations from people who take some items for themselves. Donations will be given to local organizations, including the Wayne Interfaith Network's (WIN) food pantry and Wayne VOAD, to help with flood relief. Attendees donated $210 this weekend.
"Sustainability is an issue of justice. Our commercial food-producing methods are unjust to animals, farmers, and consumers," said Rev. Karyn Ratcliffe, pastor of Packanack Community Church where the WIN is located. "People don't know what's in their food and we're not aware of how unhealthy are food has become."
"It is impossible not to raise chickens and other animals together without giving them antibiotics and other artificial things," he said. "We're on a constant anti-biotic drip."