Supporting a Community Garden @ Miller Street, Montclair, NJ
The Community Garden at Miller Street, lovingly named “Dorothy’s Garden” by the residents, is fenced in with two gates for easy access from the HomeCorps Housing parking lot or the houses’ backyards in front of it. Few people know about it which is good for a novice looking for a quiet place to start their gardening adventures.
In the Winter 2018, when we first obtained our NJHC grant, we didn’t want to step on toes if the community was vibrant. But between the lack of communications to the residents of Miller Street and the public, plus turnover in all our sister organizations plus losing our farmer and administrator, only three or four people rented beds. Fewer than 10% ended up started to work the beds in Spring and by July there was only one active gardener. Sadly, this is not untypical for community gardens. Although it’s a great idea, without the right support it can be overwhelming.
So, in January 2019, nothing was left to chance. One part-time person handled all the marketing, communications, and administration, managing an easy registration process, a fee of $25 for the retention of the gardeners, a year-round schedule of informational Healthy Communities workshops plus monthly “workdays” with volunteers from Jersey Cares to help maintain the beds. This Summer we have an 80% participation rate with many beds of fresh vegetables.
Have we built a community around healthier lifestyle choices? We think so! And so does one of our gardeners;
“I’d been interested in starting a vegetable garden but was feeling intimidated. Then I learned about the Community Garden at Miller Street and was inspired. I met and got tips from experienced gardeners to get started and had some fun! And it’s been amazing to enjoy, organic produce, too!”
About the Grantee
Montclair Community Farm’s mission is to serve as a local hands-on resource that engages and educates the community through urban farming, affordable food access and healthy living. At the heart of Montclair Community Farms is its Coalition, partners, and community volunteers. The Montclair Health Department is a founding member of the Montclair Community Farms Coalition.