Thursday, July 30, 2015

Two Community Gardens Promoting Sustainability and Gardening Education in Passaic County

As the Dig In! program enters its fourth funding cycle, City Green is proud to highlight the successes of two of our garden partners in Passaic County.

Hawthorne Community Garden
The Hawthorne Community Garden was established in 2014 and is now in its second year of operations. Located across the street from Goffle Brook Park in Hawthorne, the garden is home to all types of seasonal vegetables, creatively grown in ways that will maximize production in many of the raised beds.  From beginner gardeners to master gardeners, the Hawthorne Community Garden offers a warm welcome to community members interested in growing their own food and learning more about gardening.

Hawthorne Community Garden - June 2015

Grand Opening 2014

Grand Opening 2015
Garden Frame

Spearheaded by the Hawthorne Green Team, the Hawthorne Community Garden was a perfect fit for the municipality’s sustainability goals of improving the quality of life for residents and promoting environmental education. Rayna Laoisa, Chair of the Hawthorne Environmental Commission and member of the Green Team, says that residents expressed their interest in participating in a community garden at the 2013 Hawthorne Green Fair.  A few months later, Rayna and her team were awarded the Dig In! grant, making it possible to allocate funds for the construction of the community garden. The success of the Hawthorne Community Garden can be attributed to the dedication of the gardeners and the Green Team. Rayna says that “The key is to have to have a good location in your town and a person dedicated to working with the city. You build these relationships over time.” The garden enjoys a strong partnership among many spheres of the Hawthorne community, including the municipality, local businesses and even schools. She adds that the community garden “brings benefits for everyone, for the community, for people in apartments to grow their own food…It’s something really important and people can see it. They can learn about growing food.”

Wayne Community Garden
Located on the grounds of the historical property of the Van Riper Hopper House in Wayne, the Wayne Community Garden overlooks a picturesque historical garden and the surrounding reservoir. The Wayne Community Garden is home to 36 raised bed plots of which 26 are actively gardened and the rest are used for growing food that is donated to the Center for Family Resources in Wayne. The garden also has a compost bin that is historically accurate with the time period of the Museum. Three of the 36 beds are accessible for the elderly and people with disabilities.
Overlooking the Van Riper Hopper House

Children in the Garden Workshop at Wayne Community Garden with Farmer Shaun Ananko

The garden’s co-chairs, Mary Linteris and Erica Evans, are enthusiastic in raising visibility of the garden and providing educational gardening opportunities for the community. Just 2 weeks ago, the Wayne Community Garden hosted an interactive “Children in the Garden” workshop where a total of 31 people attended, including 16 children and 15 adults. The workshop was sponsored through the educational branch of the Dig In! program, which enabled Wayne Community Garden to bring local farmer Shaun Ananko to teach children about vegetable gardening through engaging and hands-on activities, such as planting and harvesting potatoes.
Garden Trellis

Wayne Community Garden

Now in its third year, Mary and Erica say this is the best year yet as the garden looks lush, in part due to the organic soil amendments added at the beginning of the season. Mary says that the importance of having a community garden is that it allows the community to “share experiences and learn about growing their own food.” She adds, “It’s nice to provide a place for people to garden that normally wouldn’t do it.”

by Claudia Urdanivia
Claudia is Program Operations Manager at City Green. 

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