Writers Info

Meet Our Writers

Tom Castronovo

First and foremost, Tom loves the outdoors.

His lifelong interest in gardening and passion for environmental stewardship led to the founding of the Gardener News, where Tom is a featured columnist, executive editor and publisher.

As a landscape professional by trade for over 20 years, Tom found local information on gardening and landscaping difficult to locate. After successfully completing a Master Gardener course, Tom recognized the need to assemble, publish and disseminate information of interest to the gardening public in a print-friendly format. Gardener News germinated in April 2003 and continues to bloom today. Gardener News is the leading gardening newspaper in the New Jersey metropolitan area, delivering in-depth, comprehensive coverage of local gardening, agricultural and landscaping news and events.

Tom has been an active member of his community for many years and is involved in a number of organizations.

Tom’s experience and unique ability to take complicated subjects and present them in a fresh, entertaining and easily understood style was noticed, and his first recurring television opportunity sprouted. From June 2001 to October 2008, Tom was featured as the “Backyard Gardener” on News 12 New Jersey every Sunday night and Monday. His two-minute segments featured eco-friendly gardening; landscape do’s-and-don’ts; lawn mower and equipment safety; tree, shrub and turf tips; picking and choosing fruits, vegetables and flowers; organic gardening; public gardens; pavers and hardscaping; and other gardening-related topics. News 12 New Jersey is the exclusive 24-hour local news cable channel dedicated to serving 14 counties in Northern and Central New Jersey.

In January 2008, Tom was a featured guest on Daily Connections, an informative and entertaining one-hour talk show that airs on Ebru Television. Daily Connections covers topics on health, family and relationships, as well as home, gardening, beauty and fashion. Ebru Television airs on satellite networks.

Tom has received many accolades for his contributions to the field. In June 2007, he was recognized for his “sincere appreciation and outstanding contributions and dedication” to the Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences and the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station. At the Rutgers Gardens annual dinner in December 2006, Tom was recognized with a “Media Specialist Award” in sincere appreciation for the time and talents so freely contributed for the benefits of the Rutgers Gardens. In September 2006, at the 30th Anniversary of the Rutgers Home Gardener’s School, Tom received the Rutgers-Cook College Continuing Professional Education’s “Community Outreach Award.”

In 2006, Tom helped draft a bill (Senate No. 1503), sponsored in the New Jersey Legislature by Senator Nicholas P. Scutari, which requires every commercial pesticide applicator in the state to use a silver flag to mark areas where pesticides have been applied. In addition, the bill would prohibit the use of silver flags to mark anything likely to be confused with a pesticide application. The exclusive color requirement is intended to distinguish pesticide flags from, among other things, those used for invisible dog fences, underground utility lines and mark outs, septic tanks, and underground piping. The bill passed unanimously in the Senate’s environment committee, and is awaiting a full Senate vote. In the Assembly, it has been sponsored by Assemblyman John F. McKeon and Assemblyman Upendra J. Chivukula. (Assembly No.4158) has been referred to the Assembly’s environment and solid waste committee.

In 2008, Tom helped draft another bill that will provide licensure of landscape professionals and the registration of professional landscape businesses. On October 20, 2008, Senator Nicholas P. Scutari introduced it. The bill is now Senate No.192. In the Assembly, it has been sponsored by Assemblyman John F. Amodeo. Assembly No.2206 has been referred to the Assembly’s regulated professions committee.

Tom made a guest appearance on “GardenSMART” in October 2008. He provided the introduction for show 1305, filmed at Greenwood Gardens in Short Hills, N.J. In October 2006, he provided the gardening tips on shows 412, 413 and 501, also filmed in New Jersey. “GardenSMART” is a unique, exciting, informative television gardening program broadcast on local Public Broadcasting Stations (PBS) throughout the United States.

Tom was a featured speaker at the 2006, 2007 and 2008 Springfest Flower and Garden Shows, fondly known as “The Garden Lover’s Flower Show” in Augusta, N.J. He was also a featured speaker at the 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 MAC Events “New Jersey Flower and Garden Show” in Edison, N.J. Tom has presented to many garden clubs and community organizations as well.

Tom has also been honored as the “Volunteer of the Year” by the Professional Landscape Alliance of New Jersey in 2005 and as the “Volunteer of the Year” at the New Jersey Museum of Agriculture in 2004.

He also has been featured and/or mentioned in the following publications: The New York Times, The Star Ledger, Courier News, Italian Tribune, Elegant Lifestyles Magazine, New Jersey Countryside Magazine, Out & About Magazine, Seasons by Rebecca, The Record of Bergen County, The Journal, Echoes-Sentinel, Bernardsville News, Hillsborough Beacon, Ocean County Observer, Landscape Contractor National, and the New Jersey Herald.

Tom has also been featured on NJN News, UPN 9 News, Fox 5 News and CNN. And, in 1994, Tom was an extra on the hit NBC television comedy series “Frasier.”

Tom proudly lives and gardens in New Jersey, the Garden State.

Bruce Crawford

Bruce, foremost a lover of plants since birth, is director of the Rutgers Gardens, an adjunct professor in Landscape Architecture at the Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, an instructor for Rutgers – NJAES Office of Continuing and Professional Education and chairperson of the Garden State Gardens group. He is a member of the Garden Writers Association, New York Hortus Club and an honorary member of Professional Landscape Alliance of New Jersey.

Evan Dickerson

Evan Dickerson is owner of Dickerson Landscape Contractors and NaturesPro of North Plainfield. He has been pioneering the organic approach to plant health since 1972.

Jeannie Geremia

Jeannie Geremia is an elected Officer, Horticultural Chair and National Garden Club Accredited Judge for the Garden Club of New Jersey, Inc., Garden Club of New Jersey Community Garden Chair and Central Atlantic Region Community Garden Chair of National Garden Clubs, Inc.

Tim Hionis

Tim has been growing plants for over 20 years, and is co-owner of Hionis Greenhouses and Garden Center in Whitehouse Station, NJ.

Craig Korb

Craig is executive chef at The Crab’s Claw Inn, Lavallette, NJ. He has an Associates degree in Culinary Arts and a Bachelors degree in Food Service Management from Johnson and Whales University.

Bob La Hoff

Bob is co-owner of Hall’s Garden Center in Union County, a member of the Union County Board of Agriculture, the Professional Landscape Alliance of New Jersey, the New Jersey Nursery and Landscape Association, the American Boxwood Society, the European Boxwood Society, a lifetime member of the Conifer Society and serves on the retail council for Monrovia Growers. He is also a member of the Garden Writers Association.

Peter Melick

Peter is co-owner of Melick’s Town Farm in Oldwick, and continues the family tradition as a tenth generation farmer who’s committed to agriculture. He’s chair of the Hunterdon County Agriculture Development Board, a director of the NJ Farm Bureau, and past president of the New Jersey State Board of Agriculture.

Dominick Mondi

Dominick is the Executive Director of the New Jersey Nursery and Landscape Association, which represents the Garden State’s horticulture industry. Dominick is a graduate of Rutgers University’s Landscape Architecture program, and spent 10 years working in the landscape design build industry, including 3 years owning his own design and consulting firm, before making the transition to association management. He serves on the advisory board to Rutgers Landscape Industry program, is an active member of Rutgers Organic Landcare Working Group, volunteers on the Board of Advisors for the Rutgers Gardens, and serves as Vice President of the Nursery and Landscape Association Executives of North America. He has frequently represented the industry in both Trenton and Washington, and has testified before Congress and the New Jersey legislature on matters of industry importance. Dominick lives in southern New Jersey with his wife Dana, their three children.

Richard Perkins

Richard is an avid horticulturalist, a member of the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance and the Seacoast Writers Association.

Todd Pretz

Todd is vice-president of Jonathan Green, a leading supplier of lawn and garden products in the northeast.

Secretary Douglas H. Fisher

Douglas H. Fisher is New Jersey’s seventh Secretary of Agriculture. He is the department’s executive officer, secretary to the State Board of Agriculture and a member of the Governor’s cabinet. Secretary Fisher fulfills executive, management and administrative duties prescribed by law, executive order or gubernatorial direction.

The Secretary oversees the development and implementation of specific programs required to meet State Board policy directives. He is also an active member of a number of international, national, federal, state, county and local organizations with an interest in agriculture and related areas.

The Office of the Secretary supports programs relating to the economic development of production agriculture; the marketing of agricultural products through the Jersey Fresh program; conservation and development of natural and renewable resources; distribution of surplus federal commodities to soup kitchens, food pantries, schools, state hospitals and institutions; and the health and well-being of the state’s greenhouse/nursery and livestock industries as well as other programs related to these areas.

In addition, the Office of the Secretary directs and coordinates the development and analysis of agricultural policy and department budget for the Secretary and the State Board of Agriculture. The Office coordinates the department’s legal and legislative services and rule-making functions, serves as the state’s liaison for USDA agricultural disaster matters and directs departmental efforts to support of the Governor’s statewide policy issues.