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Sustainability Blossoms at Madison Green Fair

Event shows fair-goers possibilities of a greener world.

They came by bike, they came on foot and yes, some even came by car, but dozens of Madison residents explored a myriad of environmentally-themed booths at this year's Green Fair, held Thursday afternoon on Green Village Road between Main Street and Kings Road by the .

"I have a first grader who is really into recycling," said Sun Ju Valenta, of Madison. "It's something that is so hard to explain and much easier to show."

There were many opportunities for Valenta and others to learn about several environmental issues, from a touchable solar panel display to several live aquatic insects from the Rockaway River near Sparta.

The fair was organized by the Madison Environmental Commission and Boy Scout Troop 25. Troop member Vijay Prabakaran created the fair in 2010 as part of his Eagle Scout award. This year, younger scouts took over the work of continuing the event.

"Originally, I thought it was a grueling task," said fair organizer Noah Humphries, 14, a member of Boy Scout Troop 25 and an eigth-grader at . "But I really enjoyed seeing how all the scouts came together to get it done."

In addition to getting sponsors and environmentally-themed vendors to the fair, the scouts made vanilla ice cream in a kid-powered ice cream maker that was both literally and figuratively green. The treat was made in a spherical device with an inner layer loaded with cream, sugar and vanilla and an outer layer filled with ice and rock salt. The boys simply rolled and tossed the ball around until their dessert was done.

The fair featured live music from an informal group of musicians led by senior Brian Lang, 18. There was also a demonstration of miniature solar-powered cars created by middle school students as part of a competition run by TransOptions, a company that promotes transportation alternatives. And everyone had to check out the electric Mini Cooper and flashy Tesla Roadster that were demonstrating a charging station.

"I think we should get several charging stations," said Madison Mayor Mary-Anna Holden, envisioning a station in one of the municipal parking lots, but worrying about the chicken-and-egg nature of electric cars. "People will say, 'why have a charging station if we don't have electic cars?' But who would buy a car if there were not charging stations? Maybe we have to start by providing the charging stations."

Holden was also glad that a boro representative was there to help get the word out about Madison's recently expanded recycling program.  Plastic types 1 to 7 — virtually all of the plastic used in households — is now recycled by the borough.

Residents at the fair also were surprised to meet their little-known Madison neighbors: three two week-old goats owned by Secret Garden Shop owners and Rose City residents Tracee and Joe Palmer. The couple raise chickens and goats at their home and sell goat milk products such as soap at the Madison and Chatham farmers markets.

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