If Jericho, VT had a downtown, it would be the section of Route 15 that passes Joe’s Snack Bar. But some say the soul of Jericho is actually the Green – the grassy oval that separates the Jericho Town Library from the 200 year-old Jericho Center Country Store and which briefly turns Browns Trace into a lazy roundabout.
On summer days, the Green is a popular spot for library classes on tai chi, a Bread and Puppet theater performance, or for locals and bikers to enjoy a Farmboy sandwich and a creemee from the Country Store. The Green is about as quaint as country living gets in Chittenden County.
As idyllic as a visit to Jericho can be, some local residents took issue with the stuff that visitors left behind.
“There is often trash on the Green, so after programs we end up having to do a sweep. We have a small trash can in the [library] bathroom, and kids would come inside just to throw away their creemees,” said Colleen.
So she did what any small town Vermont resident does when they see something they want to change. She rallied her neighbors.
“I went to the Jericho Center Country Store to see if we could get things going.”
She talked to the owner, Jon St. Amour, who jumped in. He had previously attempted to get the town to put out bins – he even offered to buy them himself – but had been turned down.
“For the most part people were great about walking just over here to the store [with their trash and recyclables],” said Jon. But still, “Every so often I’d pick up a stray creemee wrapper or soda bottle on my walks into the park.”
When Colleen learned about the grant funding offered by CSWD, she applied, through the library, for funds to help purchase a sturdy trash and recycling station to live on the Jericho Town Green.
“It’s all about community ownership.”
Colleen knew that pairing trash and recycling bins was the law in Chittenden County now, but it also just made plain sense. “You figure [trash and recycling] both go hand-in-hand. If you just put one unit out there, I think you’d find that everyone would throw everything in there.”
She received the grant funds within two weeks of purchasing the station, which has been on the Green since the end of July.
Jon St. Amour recognized that most of the recycling and trash came from inside of his store – it’s the only shop on the Green – so he offered his trash & recycling containers as a drop-off spot for the items collected in the bins.
“It’s all about community ownership,” says Colleen. “We’re all working together to make sure it’s all taken care of.”
Another neighbor on the Green, the Jericho Congregational Church, also got involved. Their Samaritan Committee volunteered to keep an eye on the bins, and empty them when they filled up. Volunteers from the library will help empty the bins as well.
Jon said there were some concerns that, if volunteers aren’t diligent, the bins could overflow or attract more animals. “But as long as we all pitch in, hopefully we’ll keep it under control.”
“Week 2, and it’s working out,” says Colleen. “We have a neighbor who’s a former garbage collector in Long Island, and he moved up here to retire. He came out this morning for tai chi, and this afternoon he’s going to Costco to get more bags.”
As for food waste collection? “Maybe next year,” she says with a chuckle. “One step at a time.”