Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Problems of Growth & Sprawl - Loud Farm Cannons Keeping Neighbors Awake

Loud noises are proving to be a big help to a South Jersey farmer, but a big headache to his neighbors. Joe Majeski lives directly across from the Samu Farm on Yardville-Allentown Road. "They're being fired every 30 seconds to a minute and a half and it's multiple cannons so it sounds like a firing range. I'm actually on tranquilizers and sleeping pills. It drives you crazy. You can't do this to prisoners in Guantanamo, you can do this legally to your neighbors?"

The constant boom of propane air cannons used to scare away birds and deer that wreak havoc on local farm crops is driving some Hamilton Township residents crazy.

In fact the federal Right to Farm Act permits the use of air cannons to control pests. At the Evergreen Farm, manager John Hwang says 3 years ago before he started using the cannons, birds were destroying his grape crop. 80 percent of it was ruined. Now with the cannons, the birds still do damage, but 80 percent of the grapes survive.

John Hwang\Farmer: "Without the cannon we cannot harvest. We don't get any grape. I mean we get grape but we cannot sell it."

The farmer says he's tried other methods to get rid of the birds; scary balloons, speakers, ribbons; but nothing works as effectively as the cannons.

"If you have a different way, tell me, I'll do it."

Hwang says he's sorry to upset his neighbors, but the cannons are saving his crops. After residents complained to the township Evergreen Farm has agreed to shoot the cannons off only between 8am and 7pm. But residents are not satisfied.

Dorothy Donnelly\Hamilton Twp., New Jersey: "Quite frankly our statutes don't give residents near a farm any right at all."

People here would like to change that, but in the mean time are anxiously awaiting the end of harvest season so they can have some peace and quiet again.

Dear Mr. Hwang,

Here's a better way:

They're called "nets" and they work swell. There are even machines that automatically drape them over the vines.

Email any major winery in the northern California wine country or New Zealand and they'll be happy to give you details on how to use this technology.

Good neighbors give a hoot and don't (noise) pollute!

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