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You are here: Home » GreenFaith in the Media » Press Clips » Community Food Garden Eyed in Bernardsville

Community Food Garden Eyed in Bernardsville

By Charlie Zavalick
The Bernardsville News

St. Bernard's Church in Bernardsville, part of the GreenFaith Certification Program, is coordinating a local community garden effort


BERNARDSVILLE – While it’s still winter, the seeds of an idea to create a new community garden to help feed the needy are now being planted in town.

Representatives of four local Episcopal churches – St. Bernard’s and the Church of St. John on the Mountain in Bernardsville, St. Mark’s in Basking Ridge and St. Luke’s in Gladstone – are seeking land for a vegetable garden to provide fresh produce to area food banks. The group has been discussing the joint outreach project for several months and hopes to begin planting this spring.

The idea of using land at the borough-owned Dunster-Squibb property at 189 Mine Brook Road was briefly mentioned at a Borough Council meeting on Monday, Jan. 12. The site is roughly across from Old Quarry Road.

Members of a group calling itself the The Conover Church Collaborative are expected to appear before the council for further discussion Monday, Jan. 26.

“We have all agreed on the concept of a community garden, with the hope that we can donate the produce grown to local families in need,’’ Bernardsville resident Sally Hespe, a parishioner of St. John on the Mountain, wrote in an email to the council.

“Obviously we are in the preliminary stages of this project, but we hope that we can work with the council and the borough on what could be a very important and much needed project.’’

In an interview on Monday, Bernardsville Mayor Kevin Sooy expressed support for the concept.

“I think it’s a great idea,’’ he said. “It shows community interest in the property.’’

Sooy said he believes the historic Dunster tract has already hosted a community garden but was not sure how much land was actually used, or how much might be available.

Basking Ridge resident Meg Mullaney, a representative from St. Bernard’s Church, said the group has not yet inspected the four-acre Dunster tract but hopes to do so before coming before the council. At this stage she was not sure how much land would be needed.

“We first want to see if it’s a viable option,’’ she said. “It’s in the initial planning stages but ideally we’d love to plant this season.’’

The group may also seek additional sites. The historic Ross property on South Maple Avenue in Basking Ridge is another possibility.

“We may look at alternative and/or more sites,’’ she said. “The first thing we need is to get permission.’’

Once a garden is established, the group would have to do fund-raising to purchase the necessary gardening tools, seeds and other materials, she said. t may also seek assistance from a master gardener.

She noted that St. Bernard’s Church is currently seeking “Green Faith Certification,’’ a process that demonstrates that it is working to preserve the environment. Having a community garden would help obtain that, she said.

She said the idea for a community garden was first brought up by Tracey Tuthill from St. Mark’s Church who has had involvement with the successful “Learning Garden’’ at the Oak Street Elementary School in Basking Ridge.

Also involving in the planning process is Roxanne Hayes from St. Luke’s Church.

Mullaney said St. Bernard’s also hopes to integrate the garden project with its interfaith camp for children called Splash Camp, which will place its focus on soil this year.

There ultimately could be extensive community involvement with planting, maintaining and harvesting the garden, she said.

She noted that all four churches are already involved in supporting the Bound Brook- based Somerset Food Bank in various ways, including its “backpack program’’ that provides take-home food for school children.

“We do a lot of stuff with food pantries and soup kitchens,’’ Hespe added. “But they never have fresh vegetables.’’



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