Warren

PROGRAM NAME

Shaping Warren Community Gardens

Location:
Phillipsburg, Warren County.

Objective:
To improve community access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

Budget/Grant:
$15,000

Time Frame:
January 1 to June 30, 2012

Partners:
Funding Partner: Shaping NJ.  Community Partners: Warren County Community Health Improvement Coalition, Nutrition and Physical Activity Workgroup; NORWESCAP; Phillipsburg Community Garden Club; Boy Scouts.

Accomplishments:
NORWESCAP made land available for a community garden behind its Food Bank at 201 Broad Street, Phillipsburg, and several interested groups—bolstered by some avid gardeners who provided guidance—came together to create the garden. The location was ideal for the project, with vehicular access to bring in soil and materials. Four months in planning, the garden officially opened April 28 with a ceremony attended by the Phillipsburg mayor.  Project Leader Liliana Morales and members of the coalition were able to secure donations of seeds, and planners purchased materials as needed, including signs. Members of the Boy Scouts erected fencing and constructed raised beds for 16 sustainable plots, with each plot contractually managed by two families. Under terms of their contracts, the 32 families assumed responsibility for maintaining the plots, harvesting the produce, preparing the plots for winter, and beginning the cycle again in the spring of 2013. The families enjoyed the fruits of their labors, and donated excess produce to the NORWESCAP Food Bank and the local Senior Center.

Lessons Learned:
Keys to this project’s success were developing a sound business model, obtaining broad coalition support and agency partners, and ensuring sustainability, community access and community buy-in. By following their business model and having families actually adopt (rent) a plot, with rules they must follow, the project planners created a sustainable garden in which community members were invested and engaged—they plant, feed and weed their plots, and then reap the rewards in the fruits and vegetables they grow. It also was tremendously helpful to have the support of a local community garden club.

Phase Two:
Although there is no official second phase, planners in 2012 laid much of the groundwork for a community garden in Allamuchy, on the grounds of Rutherford Hall, 1686 Route 517.  Sustainable Highlands New Jersey is a partner in this garden project and worked with the coalition to develop the Allamuchy garden.  During 2012, community members planted vegetables and donated produce to the NORWESCAP Food Bank, and they plan to expand this project in 2013.

For more information, contact Liliana Morales, Warren County Health Educator/Risk Communicator/Medical Reserve Corp Coordinator, lm8@njlincs.net or 908-475-7963.