Volunteers needed to grow Morristown’s next community garden, April 21-22

DIGGING IN: Morristown Councilman Stefan Armington prepares terraced garden plots in the Elliott Street Park. Photo courtesy of Stefan Armington
DIGGING IN: Morristown Councilman Stefan Armington prepares terraced garden plots in the Elliott Street Park. Photo courtesy of Stefan Armington
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UPDATE: Adds comments from the town environmental commission.

Grow It Green Morristown sowed the seeds a few years ago, when it opened the Early Street Community Garden and the Urban Farm at Lafayette.

And those seeds are about to bear fruit in the town’s Cutler Park neighborhood, where a terraced, 24-plot community garden will sprout in the Elliott Street Park on April 21-22, 2018.

Volunteers are needed, from 9 am to 3 pm on Saturday and Sunday. Those who pitch in will have a good shot at landing one of the 12-by-4-foot plots, said Councilman Stefan Armington, whose Third Ward includes the garden location.

It’s something of a test project, he said.

Volunteers start creating Morristown's newest community garden, in the Third Ward. Photo courtesy of Stefan Armington
Volunteers start creating Morristown’s newest community garden, in the Third Ward. Photo courtesy of Stefan Armington

“If it works, ideally, we can identify other town parks and playgrounds and see if other gardens can happen,” Armington said.

The new garden is a $5,000 venture.  It’s funded with $2,500 from an anonymous donor and $1,500 from the Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions to  Morristown’s environmental commission.

A neighborhood coin drive raised the remainder, the town is arranging irrigation hookups, and Grow It Green is a consultant, Armington said.

“We’re excited about the Elliott Street Garden project as a way to provide more families with the opportunity to grow their own fresh, local food,” said Erica Colace, executive director of Grow It Green Morristown.

Councilman Stefan Armington with terraced garden plots in the Cutler Park section of town. Photo courtesy of Stefan Armington
Councilman Stefan Armington with terraced garden plots in the Cutler Park section of town. Photo courtesy of Stefan Armington

“Community gardening is a very popular activity, and there is certainly a demand for it in Morristown. By lending our expertise to build another community garden, we’re helping to create community spaces and more access to green spaces,” Colace said.

Grow It Green co-founder Samantha Rothman also is delighted by the nonprofit’s Johnny Appleseed role.

“We have this institutional knowledge we can share with other groups to help them. We don’t have to do it all,” Rothman said.

Maureen Denman, chairperson of the town environmental commission, called the project “another example of how when like-minded neighbors come together with a shared vision, anything can happen.”

Margarita Armington helps create new community garden in Morristown. Photo by Stefan Armington
A volunteer helps create new community garden in Morristown. Photo by Stefan Armington

Initial plans called for the new plots to abut a retaining wall near the Elliott Street Park tennis courts. But the wall was deemed unstable and so it was removed, Armington said.

That left a sloped grade — perfect for “building terraces, like an Andean terraced garden,” said the former Peace Corps volunteer. Armington and his wife Margarita served in Honduras from 1991 to 1994, teaching farmers to plant corn and beans on small hillside terraces.

Garden volunteers are asked to contact Petra Lieberman, and to bring shovels, gloves, rakes, hoes and wheel barrows if they have them. Garden terraces, raised beds and deer fencing will be erected. Water and snacks will be provided.

Grow It Green proposed a community garden for the Second Ward in 2012, but residents there opposed it.

Organizers of this weekend’s Elliot Street Park work may find themselves up against stiff competition for volunteers on Saturday.

A town-wide spring cleaning and a cleanup of the Whippany River are planned. Volunteers also will be planting trees in Burnham Park to celebrate Arbor Day.

And a Prayer Walk is scheduled for 11:30 am from the Presbyterian Church on the Green to Evergreen Cemetery, to honor the founder of the Bethel A.M.E. Church, established 175 years ago as Morristown’s first African American house of worship.

garden flyer

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