The month of August got away from us and so we’ve decided to condense two updates into one lovely update on the progress we’ve made with our ShapingNJ grant. We are happy to report that we treated our volunteers from the Newark YMCA and Vicinity to an end of the summer cookout as a thank you for all their hard work in helping us set up Earthboxes and prepping the location of our third garden site. We’ve since bid adieu to our Summer volunteers, and have welcomed Fall volunteers into the current garden sites. They’ve assisted us in planting broccoli, lettuce and collard greens in our Earthboxes. Never fans of wastefulness, we’ve strategically utilized our Earthboxes in a staggered configuration, so as to provide the greatest yield for our community come harvest time.
September brought with it cooler temps and one of our proudest projects, the addition of a third garden site, complete with a “Community Performance Area” and a Yoga Garden. This labor of love involved much planning behind the scenes, to which we owe a wealth of gratitude to our Director of Development, Wanda Upshaw. She’s always been the guiding hand and light of our gardening endeavors, but the pinnacle of her achievement was the event Prodigal Sons and Daughters Redirection Services, Inc. held on Saturday, September 20th.
Blessed with good weather and even better friends, PSD welcomed nearly 100 volunteers including: Prodigal Alums, Representatives from the City of Newark, The New Jersey Tree Foundation, Home Depot and even the youngest tots and tweens from our Central Ward to fill our neighborhood with newly planted trees! Our gracious friends at Home Depot also “set the stage” for our Community Performance Area.
Guided of course by our Master Gardener, Walter Barry, our little piece of Newark was filled with helping hands armed with shovels (that even our littlest volunteers could hold) to dig deep holes for our new trees to be set into. Up and down our streets, dirt was everywhere! But also, there were smiles for days and after a long day of digging, and weeding, and transplanting our little piece of the Central Ward of Newark was changed for the better. Even with the threat of rain looming on the horizon, Saturday’s weather held and we met so many eager and helpful hands that we are still so moved with the utmost gratitude.
Our continued partnership with ShapingNJ has allowed us to impact our community in immeasurable ways. Providing produce to our community members is something we always look forward to, but Saturday’s event allowed us to create deeper connections with the friends and families that we serve. When people feel a sense of ownership with something, they’re more likely to take pride in it, and want to protect it. This new garden site, complete with the beautiful stage will allow us to leave a lasting impression on our community, and we cherish the opportunity to continue the mission of shaping the next generation of New Jersey’s future to live healthy and happy!