Special feature: West Chester Food Co-op

The West Chester Food Co-op is working to build a member-owned (cooperative) full-service grocery store in West Chester.  The store will provide daily access to fresh, healthy, local food, and will be walkable for those in the Borough and have parking for those who don’t.

Cooperatives are businesses formed not to return profits to investors but to serve the needs of their members.  A cooperative offers our community the opportunity to build together something we all want.

The Food Co-op hired a consultant to produce an investment-grade projection of revenue for a store in our community; so we know it can work.  Read more here.

Cooperatives start through community support: many small investments from as broad a base as possible assure that the business reflects the community.  The Co-op is building that equity base right now.

The Food Co-op is more than a grocery store: its mission is to enhance the well-being of the people of West Chester by promoting healthy and mindful eating, improving access to sustainably produced food, helping those in need to secure quality food, advancing sustainable and humane agriculture, supporting local farms, and building community through cooperative enterprise.

The Co-op seeks to bring transparency and accountability to every step of the food production and distribution process from farm to table, providing confidence for educated consumer choice and food that the community can trust. Nutritious food is a gift to the health and well-being of an entire population.

As a member-owner, you also help set policies and decide what sorts of food are stocked, and you also receive a yearly rebate.

Member-owners make a one-time $400 investment (there is an installment plan and gift certificates are available).  The Co-op is nearing its  target to move into the next phase of development; your investment can put them over the top.  See the timeline for project development here.

You may email the Co-op here or join on-line here.  Please support our friends and community!

 

Community activists fight mosquitoes and spraying

by Pete Bannan, Daily Local News, 9/10/16

WEST CHESTER >> Motorists driving through the streets of the borough this summer may have noticed the lawn signs with a baby wearing a gas mask stating ‘Don’t Spray Me.’ Those provocative signs belong to a group of community activists formed to stop Chester County from spraying pesticides in the borough.

Co-founders Margaret Hudgings and Nathaniel Smith recently sat down with a reporter to talk about the group.

“In 2012 the county sprayed in the southwest quadrant of the borough,” said Hudgings. “The morning after it was like silent spring, and we had a lot of people reporting illnesses.”

Three years later, Hudgings and Smith received reports of a plan by the county to spray in the Marshall Square Park area for West Nile mosquitoes which had been discovered in that neighborhood. County Health Department officials planned to use permethrin with permanone, sprayed by truck in the evening after winds had calmed down.

Concerned about the health effects on people and the environment, the two drew up a petition calling for a stop to spraying.

“We assembled a group of five volunteers who walked the southwest quadrant of the borough with a petition asking the county not to spray,” Hedging said. “We got a 98-percent signing rate. People don’t want to be sprayed.”

They presented it to West Chester Mayor Carolyn Comitta and county health officials…

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read more at Daily Local News

History of Dontsprayme to the Sustainability Advisory Council

Margaret Hudgings, on behalf of Dontsprayme, 8/18/16

Don’t Spray Me grew out of citizen concern about spraying in the Borough. The specific issue that rallied support was proposed spraying of Permanone by the Chester County Health Department in Marshall Square Park in late August/early September 2015. More than 300 people signed a petition against spraying and, with the support of Mayor Comitta and Borough Councilman Bill Scott, the Council decided on a “cease and desist” order to stop the spraying.

In October, the West Nile Task Force was formed to work together to reduce mosquitoes and any perceived need for spraying. The three groups involved in the task force are the Chester County Health Department, the Borough of West Chester Public Works Department and the citizen action group Don’tSprayMe. Our goals: reduce mosquitoes and the need for spraying and create a model for other communities to do the same. We would like to assemble a packet of materials that we can hand on to communities with the same mission acting as a model for Chester County and beyond.

Accomplishments to date:

The County and Borough are working together to apply larvicide to storm drains in the borough that have been identified as holding water and being potential breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

The Borough has stepped up enforcement efforts at homes and businesses that have tires stored outside, tall weeds or standing water, especially in trash areas.

The Borough has purchased a vacuum cleaner for storm drains to rid them of debris.

Together we have worked on public education. Continue reading

Comments to the Sustainability Advisory Council, 8/18/16

Nathaniel Smith: views on the role of SAC

I would like to reflect briefly on how the anti-mosquito & non-spray effort fits in to the sustainability theme.

Occasionally people ask us: Aren’t mosquitoes part of the balance of nature too?

Yes, but in an urban environment like West Chester, where the balance of nature is disrupted, they become pests

The stream protection plan, just discussed, fits in nicely here, because natural, healthy streams bring us good drainage and mosquito-eating fish and dragonflies.

If West Chester didn’t have people, we wouldn’t need a Sustainability Advisory Committee. But people are also part of the solution.

The mission statement of this Committee is ”to increase collaboration between Borough departments on issues regarding the economic vitality and environmental sustainability of West Chester Borough.”

And Borough code also says: “The Committee seeks to develop initiatives aimed at increasing Borough staff knowledge, developing community partnerships, and fostering sustainable best management practices.”

In my view, sustainability also extends beyond preserving the balance of nature to assuring that people live in an attractive and healthy natural environment.

The County Health Department is part of the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program, which “promotes the adoption of innovative, alternative pest control practices.” In the EPA’s words, we wish to “work toward pest management practices that reduce the risks to humans and the environment.”

We are asking SAC to also support those goals and to:

– accept the mosquito Task Force as a SAC project

– appoint a SAC member as a regular liaison to the Task Force

– help publicize the Task Force’s outreach to residents

What can I do to reduce the mosquito population?

Here is the enemy: larvae

But those are mosquito larvae, which don’t bite.

Right, but once larvae hatch, it is really too late for that batch. One female mosquito, with an occasional protein infusion from blood, lays 100+ eggs. The eggs hatch into larvae (as pictured), which fly away as adults in a few days.

Can’t we just spray and kill all the mosquitoes?

Air-borne insecticides, a temporary fix, may kill 80% of adult mosquitoes in the vicinity, but do not affect eggs, larvae, or pupae (the larvae who have already moved to a cocoon-like phase). Within a few days, the population is restored. Besides, many species can fly a mile or more. And even worse, the more we spray, the more likely mosquitoes are to become resistant to the insecticides we use.

So what do we do?

We must eliminate stagnant water! It sounds easy but requires imagination. Empty out birdbaths, pails of water, saucers under plants, and whatever else can hold water. And look overhead: be sure your house eaves drain. Spill out ALL standing water every 3-5 days to be safe.

How about ponds and streams?

A biological agent called Bti, widely available, prevents larvae from growing into adults. If the water is running, no problem. Swimming pools usually have enough chlorine to kill larvae.

Where can I get more information?

West Chester Borough has a new program and web page for residents to help their neighbors eliminate mosquito breeding. See here.

The County has two relevant pages, one on avoiding mosquito-borne diseases generally and one more specifically West Nile Virus. Both stress how to keep mosquitoes from breeding on our property. In fact, the County health regulations require us to avoid breeding mosquitoes.

See also excellent advice from the West Baton Rouge Parish Council Mosquito Abatement program, including video showing where mosquito larvae flourish and what they look like.

And talk to your neighbors, especially any who may be circulating information on mosquito control.

Mayor Comitta’s letter

Below is the text of the letter from Mayor Carolyn Comitta being circulated to Borough residents in May, 2016. Download pdf here: Mayor’s mosquito letter.

Dear Borough Resident and/or Property Owner:

Since West Chester Borough’s beginnings, its citizens and leaders have valued and protected our environment. The recognition of the importance of green stewardship still resonates today through the many environmentally focused and sustainable initiatives in place throughout the Borough.

The most recent of these initiatives is the West Nile Task Force (WNTF), formed of Borough leaders, staff, and citizens, whose involvement began last summer when there was a realization for the need to protect the community against pesticide spraying, in order to create awareness and educate the community on the importance of mosquito control practices in the Borough. By eliminating potential breeding grounds for mosquito larvae, the need for spraying pesticides should be greatly reduced. This task force works closely with the Chester County Health Department (CCHD) in order to identify best management practices in preventing mosquitos from breeding on Borough properties.

This task force, with the help of the “Don’t Spray Me” group of borough residents, will look to educate our residents and property owners on how to take the correct preventative measures to keep mosquitos from breeding and to hopefully eliminate the need for spraying anti-mosquito pesticides in the Borough. The spraying of these pesticides becomes necessary only if adult mosquitos in an area test positive for WNV and is regarded by the CCHD as a last resort.

Let’s use the first resort: preventing mosquitoes from breeding! Yes, our own yards and houses are a large part of the problem!

Here are some things you can do to ensure you are not creating potential breeding grounds on your property:

• Do not leave trash cans outside uncovered.
• Keep wading pools covered or emptied.
• Do not store old tires outside.
• Wheelbarrows, pots, plastic containers, etc. should be turned over so as to not collect water.
• Do not allow water in bird baths to become stagnant.
• Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers to eliminate standing water.
• Clean roof gutters, particularly if leaves from surrounding trees have a tendency to plug drains.
• Clean and chlorinate swimming pools regularly.
• Apply larvicide to areas of stagnant water that cannot be drained.

As your Mayor, I recognize the importance of protecting our community. So let’s all work together and tackle the mosquito issue. With your help, we can make West Chester a clean, green and bite-free zone!

Carolyn T. Comitta, Mayor
Borough of West Chester