Virtual Eco Tour of the Hackensack River Watershed!

Welcome to the Bergen SWAN On-Line Eco Tour.  These pages highlight a series of individuals throughout our watershed who have taken the initiative to implement good land care stewardship practices in our watershed.

Organic Farming & Gardening at Old Hook Farm

Farming and agriculture were the dominant land uses in our watershed during the 1700 and 1800's.  Today, only a few remnant working farms still exist. This first stop on the tour takes us to Old Hook Farm, a small farm that for over 30 years has used exlusively organic farming mentods to grow their frutis vegetables and flowers. Organic farming is a form of agriculture that does not allow the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides or antibiotics and rely on natural means to yield their crop.  With Old Hook Farm location close to the banks of the Pascack Brook and the Oradell reservior, using organic methods is especially important for keeping our water clean. This stop will give you information of organic farming as well as how to use organic growing methods for you home garden. You can also enjoy and interview owners of Old Hook Farm.

Natural Landscaping with Wiebke Hinsch

Turn your mono-culture lawn into a beautiful and bio-diverse landscape! Native plants are advantageous over the grass used in conventional landscaping in that they only need the natural amount of rainwater to survive, thus conserving water.  They also are less likely to be victimized by diseases or insects, which in turn can make people less likely to use pesticides, thus helping to keep water systems' pesticide levels down to a minimum.  These lawns also look more natural than the more conventional ones.  On this stop on the tour we visit Wiebke Hinsch, a Bergen County Master Gardener who has used native plants to create a stunningly beautiful natural landscape.  At this stop you will also find links to information on how you can do the same for your own home.

Rain Gardens in the Watershed

A rain garden is an area of earth shaped like a shallow basin near a source of water runoff.  Native plants with deep roots reside in the rain garden, helping to prevent the runoff (which can carry pollutants such as oil and pesticides) from moving into our water systems.  Rain gardens can help slow down rushing stormwater runoff allowing it if percolate down into the ground recharging our ground water aquifiers. This stop on the tour takes us to the home of Leigh Merinoff who worked with Bergen SWAN to install a rain garden at her home. 

Restoring the Floodplain to Address Flooding

A floodplain is the flat land next to a river that can be exposed to flooding during heavy precipitation.  Unfortunately, many people have built houses on these floodplains and are susceptible to having their houses damaged by floods, as experienced in Hackensack and Hillsdale.  Fortunately, Hillsdale has been buying out people's houses as an alternative to building expensive and unnatural levees.  Once they buy the house, they knock it down and restore the floodplain to its natural state.  Floodplains support important wildlife habitats and can also be used as recreation areas.  More information on Restoring the Floodplain is available here as well as an interview with the Borough Engineer of Hillsdale who has been leading this inititive.

Click Here for an interactive map showing the locations of the sites listed on the Eco Tour.