Community members of all ages are invited to the grand opening celebration for Neptune Township’s new Division Street Community Garden, held Sunday, April 22 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m at 130 Division St.
The garden, owned by Neptune Township and run in partnership with a team of Brookdale Community College student volunteers, will offer 16-square-foot plots plots for local residents while growing fresh produce for Fulfill, formerly known as the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties.
The grand opening celebration will feature family friendly activities, refreshments, seed packets and planter giveaways for children, live music performed by Brookdale students and addresses by elected officials and invited guests. It is free and open to all.
“We invite all community members to come visit this incredible new garden, have some fun and learn how they can get involved,” said Brookdale student organizer Sharon Muller. “We hope this initiative will be a valuable resource for the residents of Neptune – and the community members served by Fulfill – for a long time to come.”
While the garden officially opens to residents this month, the seeds of the idea were planted last year, when students in Brookdale’s The Innovation Network (TIN) first proposed building a community garden on the Lincroft campus.
The students, who receive college credit for engaging in real-world service projects as part of their curriculum, reached out to the Master Gardeners of Monmouth County and met with representatives from Fulfill and the Marlboro Township Community Garden to learn the ins and outs of community gardening operations.
They forged a partnership with the Brookdale Environmental Club and expanded their efforts, conducting extensive research and meeting with local officials to discuss their proposal. While the students ultimately discovered that it would not be financially feasible to build a new garden on campus, they did make a connection with Neptune Township, which was in the process of renovating a vacant parcel of land for the same purpose.
“We had amassed all this knowledge, and we just needed a place,” said TIN member Gregory Dube. “They had the place, they had resources, and they were looking for volunteers to help manage operations. And now so many people have stepped in to make this what it is. It really has been a true community effort.”
Current plans call for 12, four-by-four foot plots at the garden, eight of which will be made available to local residents. The remaining beds, maintained by community garden members, will grow fresh produce that is distributed to area residents and food pantries by Fulfill. For more information contact TIN advisor Deborah Mura at email@example.com.
Students, employees and community members interested in supporting the initiative or volunteering to assist with the Grand Opening Celebration should contact TIN advisor Deborah Mura at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about The Innovation Network here.
[Featured Photo (l-r): Environmental Club members Chris Butler, Kathleen Lonnie, Sebby Freeman and Sharon “Brie” Muller join TIN President Erika Etkine to prepare for the Grand Opening Celebration on April 22.]