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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 , 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 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  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. 

Alfieri and several residents . The township is planning on later on this month.

"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 , pastor of 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."

Alfieri agreed.

"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."

— Have a question or news tip? Contact editor Daniel Hubbard at Daniel.Hubbard@patch.com or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Rob Burke June 18, 2012 at 12:02 PM
Thanks, Scondo.
Rob Burke June 18, 2012 at 12:03 PM
And its a heck of a lot of fun...
Rob Burke June 18, 2012 at 12:04 PM
Thanks, Al. Imagine when we start harvesting tomatoes, cukes, asparagus and so on. It will be a bit overwhelming, in a fun kind of way. I had some eggs for breakfast today, too. We have too many eggs! Need to keep giving them away or pickling them for a late night snack...
Rob Burke June 18, 2012 at 12:05 PM
Thanks, Josie!
Rob Burke June 18, 2012 at 12:07 PM
Nice pictures, Dan!
Rob Burke June 18, 2012 at 12:09 PM
The good news is that Mayor Vergano & Rich Stomber came by, and Councilwoman Ryan came by a week or so ago. I too would have liked to have heard back from the other folks I invited, but I am nevertheless pleased that we broke the ice at least a little bit. Perhaps the page hasn't turned completely, but its a part of the way there.
Maggi Puglia June 18, 2012 at 12:21 PM
Great job! Maybe a few more "victory gardens" will appear in town.
eyes wide shut June 18, 2012 at 12:40 PM
Lets do a nice "victory garden" in fron of Town Hall. We can start it in Nov..Great job Rob.
Rob Burke June 18, 2012 at 12:48 PM
Thanks, Maggi. They already are sprouting up. Victor is leading the charge, and we're here to help, too. Its not that hard and its not that expensive. And its great fun!
Rob Burke June 18, 2012 at 01:00 PM
There probably were several Victory Gardens on Township owned properties during the 1930-1950 era. Any historians out there who would have that information? Like the Mayor said, this is something new & something old. Victory Gardens on public lands continue to this day. There's one behind Fenway Park & another in Minneapolis; both started during the '30s and have been in continuous operation since. Eleanor Roosevelt planted one at the White House back then, and Michele Obama planted one a couple years ago. Gardens on Townowned land would be great to see again.
Cathy Kazan June 18, 2012 at 01:21 PM
Love the gardens and the hens Rob. The ribbon cutting was nice to see. I hope this is definitely a step toward settling your turbine case. It's been way too long now. I know what you mean about the satisfaction you feel when you plant something yourself, pick it, cook and eat it. My family has done that all our lives. I was just sharing arugula and bok choy with neighbors recently. They couldn't get over the difference in flavor and freshness from what they buy. The best sight of all was the little girl feeding the "girls". You're already effecting the next generation. Who could ask for more. Best of luck.
Resident Kelly June 18, 2012 at 01:35 PM
Great job Rob! The gardens and chickens are beautiful! And a great big thank you to Victor for donating his time educating our Wayne residents about the benefits of gardening and sustainability. It’s nice to see our mayor, Mr Vergano, embracing this also. A community garden is a great idea for Wayne. We have just taken a big leap in the right direction and in doing so, we are building our community. Thank you Rob, Victor and Mr. Mayor. We all applaud your efforts.
Sandy Fantau June 18, 2012 at 01:39 PM
Rob, I was glad to be their for the Ribbon Cutting. You are doing a great job in teaching us all how we can do our part to help the environment. I do have to say your eggs are the best. Thanks for all you do to teach us ways to live smaller. I think that is an important part of history that has been lost over time. Best of luck and I do hope the ice has been broken for your efforts to install a windmill.
Rob Burke June 18, 2012 at 01:42 PM
Bok choy -- mmmmm. I gotta do that next year. Save me some seeds! Thanks for being there Saturday, Cathy. I'm having a lot of fun with this -- I'm hoping as we grow veggies and I eat more of them that maybe I can finally get around to losing the 20 or so pounds that I desperately need to lose! Either way, this is just great fun and the sharing is the best part.
Rob Burke June 18, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Hey Kelly! Thanks for your post -- I couldn't agree with you more. Stop by for some eggs. I'm thinking about making T-Shirts about the hens. Haven't decided yet. There must be some witty answers for 'Why did the chicken cross the road?'
Rob Burke June 18, 2012 at 01:45 PM
Thanks Sandy! You've been a great friend. I appreciate all your help & support.
Cathy Kazan June 18, 2012 at 02:14 PM
I will do that. It's great for stir frys. Not only will you lose weight if you eat more vegetarian, but your cholesterol will nosedive. I switched over to mostly vegetables after the holidays and my cholesterol dropped 78 pts. My doctor was threatening me with statins and couldn't believe that I could do it with proper diet. It's all a win win.
WayneRick June 18, 2012 at 04:18 PM
Why did the chicken cross the road? Because it's illegal to make a left on Hamburg Turnpike everywhere except the Wayne Auto Spa.
Nose Wayne June 18, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Rob, Sorry I could not make it Saturday. You had a beautiful day for it.Glad to hear the Mayor showed up,.maybe now that he saw what you are doing for our enviroment he will talk to the powers to be and let you finally get your well deserved wind turbine. I NOSE the hens are still ROOSTING for you.Will stop by soon.
Rob Burke June 18, 2012 at 04:31 PM
That would make a lousy T Shirt. Its also not true. The County started imposing left turn restrictions up and down Hamburg Turnpike as conditions to redevelopment of properties situated on the road. This property hasn't been redeveloped since the 1960s. Never mind the illegal lefts made all day long every day onto my neighbor's property.
Rob Burke June 18, 2012 at 04:32 PM
The Girls of Wayne Auto Spa will be here when you do stop by.
Nose Wayne June 18, 2012 at 04:32 PM
Rick, the chickens would get their feathers scared off them if they tried to cross Hamburg Turnpike, But they would be on camera doing it !!
beebopalex June 18, 2012 at 11:18 PM
Good stuff. Look forward to seeing this mentality spread around Wayne. My spinach, tomatoes, and onions are growing like crazy, and my eggplants, peppers, and zucchinis are coming in soon, too!
Rob Burke June 18, 2012 at 11:31 PM
You're making me hungry again Alex! We need to finish our conversation about getting some more hens, something a little different. Folks who sell exotics have their cards posted on a bulletin board at Brodhecker's Farm in Newton. If you give them a call and ask them for a few names and numbers, I'd bet we could find some colorful additions. Let me know what you think.
Nose Wayne June 19, 2012 at 12:22 AM
Rob In August, you have to go to the Sussex County Fair. They have all kinds of hens that people sell at the Fair.They have their own website, GOOD LUCK, time for an addition on the henhouse, Maybe an observation deck ?
Claire Furber June 19, 2012 at 08:11 PM
Rob, The ribbon cutting was a great success, it was nice to see so many people that came out to support you. Victor did a great job helping you set everything up. Your chickens were showing all the signs of happy chickens: scratching around on the ground, laying in the sun and taking a bath in the dirt (always a good sign). Before I got there I couldn't imagine where you were going to put the coop and the garden, I didn't realize you had so much room. I was very impressed. Best of luck.
Rob Burke June 19, 2012 at 08:28 PM
Thanks, Claire! Sorry we didn't get a chance to chat much. I do want to talk with you if you have some time. I'll be around all week if you have a few minutes to stop by again?
Claire Furber June 20, 2012 at 05:29 PM
Rob, Sure, I'll try to stop by sometime this week.
WayneRick June 21, 2012 at 04:34 PM
@Rob - The lack of lefts in that section of Hamburg Turnpike is crazy. I didn't mean to imply anything with my t-shirt idea about the Wayne Auto Spa. I see those illegal lefts all up and down Hamburg -- because, honestly, there are places where you'd need to drive a mile out of your way to make a proper sanctioned U-Turn. And I have to think the lack of lefts is a factor hurting some of the businesses which can't seem to stay open. There are two restaurants down the street from you whose buildings have been abandoned now for years. They're just impossible to get into or out of due to the traffic and lack of turn abilities.
Rob Burke June 21, 2012 at 05:31 PM
@WR -- No worries! I agree that Hamburg Tpk is a mess. The road is simply too narrow to accommodate the kinds of vehicles permitted to drive on it. Eighteen wheelers don't fit in these lanes. Period. The first thing that needs to happen is to get them off this road by changing the law. Look at what happened by Wayne Hills Diner. The barrier that was constructed in conjunction with the u-turn has seriously impacted their business. There must be a better way to balance safety (which is obviously very important) alongside the needs of business owners and consumers. I've dealt with this before when the County was installing drainage near my business. They closed Hamburg Turnpike traveling toward Pompton Lakes. The County Engineer didn't give a wit that he would have bankrupted me if Congressman Pascrell didn't step in. The County Engineer thought access to my facility was just fine, thank you, because customers could turn right onto Colfax and cut through Vizcaya to come out on Terhune and then loop around to my car wash!!! Translation: He couldn't give a you know what. And I pay his salary...

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