The Morris County Cooperative Garden continues to produce great veggies for our garden workers and their agencies. String beans, three kinds of peppers (including devils tongue), mint, and soon, tomatoes, are going home in brown bags! These fresh garden vegetables and herbs will be used for delicious new and standard recipes. We have shared recipes for Swiss chard and basil – the usual pizza and salad, but also soups and main dishes. Pollinators have been busy at the garden too! We’ve seen caterpillars, bees, small frogs, and other friendly visitors. Unfortunately, we may also have been visited by a basil blight that we hear is making the rounds. We’ve managed to harvest lots of leaves from the plants before this problem set in so it is a lesson learned.
A recent press release put out by our partner agency, Homeless Solutions, included a quote from one of the young participants – 13 year old Brandon said “I love going to the garden because it makes me feel happy. If you go there, you might just feel a little bit better about yourself…There are many different kinds of vegetables growing and they all have a nice, sweet smell to them.” And that’s what the Cooperative Garden of Morris County is all about!
Cucumbers are Coming!
We recently had two volunteers helping at the garden, a young man visiting with his mom. We heard that when he returned from the garden, he could not stop talking about the frog he saw! It made us realize the garden is not just about growing and eating – it’s about nature and fun discoveries! Our volunteer groups are so dedicated. They come regularly to water, weed, and harvest. So far we have very small harvests – just a few squash and peppers. The basil is a bit overwhelming but we are sharing recipes for pesto, pizza, and Caprese salad. The Swiss chard will be ready any day now. Any suggestions for what to do with it? Tomatoes and more squash will come soon as well. Our pineapple and chocolate mint plants can be trimmed – we are also looking for recipes for these herbs. Our coordinator, Jessica, has been researching garden care and is doing a great job keeping us up to date with maintenance, as well as methods to keep the critters away. Our patio furniture has been purchased and will provide a place for a bit of rest for our busy volunteers, as well as a spot for quick meetings. We recently received a grant from Land O’ Lakes Foundation and are so thankful for the many companies that are community minded and are helping us share healthy food with our non-profits. Shaping NJ grants have truly been the foundation for this great project!
Thank you to our garden friends for donations of plants and to our volunteers who planted in the heat and humidity. Jessica, Brian, and Armon came from our partner agencies and Oksana Kochurova came form Morgan Stanley to help plant. Interfaith Food Pantry and the Frelinghuysen Arboretum donated some seedlings. We have tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, herbs, (including chocolate mint and pineapple mint), string beans, and basil – boy, do we have basil! Our shed is filling up and we are installing ground netting to keep the critters out. Our accessible beds have been delivered and they are filled with plants as well. We are waiting for the Park Commission crew to have time to put crushed stone on top of the larger stones currently in place so that we have an accessible garden for wheelchairs. More good news – we received a grant from Merck Co. for garden support! We will buy more supplies, a patio set for meetings, and a couple of benches. We might also be in line for an Eagle Scout project for plantings outside the garden, to hide some of the bright white plastic fence and make the area more presentable and natural. Although we were late getting the plants in the ground, we are thankful that they seem to be flourishing!
One of our first vegetables!
And one of the first fruits!
The shed for the Morris County Cooperative Garden has arrived! What an interesting way to deliver it. Now that it is here, we have started buying and storing hoses, rakes, kneeler pads, shovels, wheelbarrows, and a shade canopy. Our friends in the community garden business are sharing plants – we have some basil, tomatoes, squash, swiss chard, and others, just waiting to go in the ground. The crushed stone pathways are complete so it is an accessible garden. Our higher raised beds (3) are to be delivered today or tomorrow. They are 30 inches high and accessible to people in wheelchairs. The fence is planned to be installed starting Monday and although our plants are ready, we don’t want them to become food for the birds and animals that inhabit our park. We can’t wait to get our hands into the soil and are looking for volunteers!
A great team of Novartis volunteers helped us build our raised beds at the Cooperative Garden in rain and mud! The beds were also filled with soil and compost so they are ready for the tender plants. Is the weather ever going to be consistently warm? We will be meeting with our mentors from Grow It Green Morristown to create a shopping list for plants and we have a list of community volunteers just waiting to help manage the garden. We’ll be using stone dust on the paths in the garden so they are wheelchair accessible. Fencing is on order and should be in within the next week or so. The storage shed is arriving any day now since the base has been prepared. We are spending lots of time considering tools to keep out the deer, ground hogs, and turkey vultures! We want to feed people not animals and birds!