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Leaving Scarsdale: Forum Gets Mulching Message

SCARSDALE, N.Y. – The campaign to get Scarsdale residents to end their practice of removing fallen leaves from their properties stepped up recently when Ann Jaffe Holmes, coordinator of environmental projects for the Greenburgh Nature Center , spoke to the Scarsdale Forum membership on the topic.

Holmes was introduced by Scarsdale Village Trustee Kay Eisenman, who has been active in environmental affairs and helped Mayor Miriam Levitt-Flisser spearhead Scarsdale's resolution to encourage residents to mulch their leaves and keep them in their yards.

Scarsdale, which budgeted $776,000 this year for leaf pickup and removal, has signed on to a countywide program to move away from leaf disposal. A page on the village website provides how-to and promotional information.

"We're delighted to have Scarsdale participating in the Love 'Em and Leave 'Em initiative," Homes said. "After all, you are the village within a forest and you do have, literally, the highest cost for leaf removal that we are aware of in the county of Westchester."

A show of hands indicated several people already mulch leaves on their property.

"The idea behind Love 'Em and Leave 'Em is to get people to retain the leaves from their own trees on their property for environmental reasons and financial reasons," Holmes said. "When you remove leaves from your property you are actually removing a hugely valuable resource. All through leaf season, trees are drawing up water and nutrients and minerals from the earth, then spend energy," she continued, “Then, when the leaves drop to the ground, they become soil. Really good soil, soil that absorbs water, soil that contains bacteria and fungus and microbes that actually enable your plants' roots to take in nutrients. Leaves are much better than Miracle Gro, far better than anything you can buy."

Holmes also pointed to the cost, both in dollars and in environmental damage, of carting leaves away.

"Here in Scarsdale it’s $776,000 annually," she said. "On top of the cost for Scarsdale, the county spends $3.4 million annually getting leaves out of the county, then add to that the cost of the trucks, the exhaust, the cluttering of the streets. It just goes on and on."

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