Time to Celebrate at the Hamilton Memorial Community Garden

On Wednesday August 27th nearly 200 people were on hand for the dedication ceremony for the newest urban community garden and recreation area in Atlantic City. The Hamilton Memorial Community Garden welcomed the residents of Atlantic City and those that had put their time and energy into the project. With a ribbon cutting by local children and Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian, the garden was celebrated along with the teamwork that brought its creation to be.
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Talking with community members, all look forward to gardening at the new and improved site. Winter crops have already been started by seed and with the help of the Community Gardeners, on hand from the Richard Stockton College, they will be transplanted following the harvest of tomatoes and eggplants that are currently thriving. What is not far from everyone’s mind, despite the festivities of a dedication, is how will the garden be sustained in the future? Programming meetings are to be scheduled to discuss what strengths partners can now bring to the project to seek out new gardeners, teach gardening skills, what health messaging can be brought by the way of healthy eating demonstrations, etc. There is more to a garden than wood boxes, dirt and seeds. Partners do not forget that there is a lot of work yet to do!

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With that on their minds, the community members and partners celebrated! When asked about what she thought about the project, Ms. Jefferson, an Atlantic City resident stated, “I’m just speechless when I saw this, this afternoon. Kind of brought tears to my eyes because it was a work of heart and work of dedication.”

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With 32 community partners sponsoring their time and money to the project, the group was able to construct a playground, garden, gazebo, mural and an outdoor entertainment area.

http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/communities/atlantic-city_pleasantville_brigantine/community-garden-and-park-dedicated-in-a-c-near-united/article_c914e088-8a15-557e-b9c7-91fc204fe635.html

Brain Storming, Programming…What Comes Next?

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At the Hamilton Community Garden construction is almost coming to an end. The garden beds have been built, the mulch has been laid. The physical activity and exercise equipment has been installed and awaits final touches. Masonry work continues on the amphitheater and the last brush strokes are being made to the beautiful hand painted garden mural.

As community partners sat together last evening at the weekly garden meeting, the topic of community involvement was discussed. The garden and recreational area has been constructed and now the question is how to have the local residents “buy in” so to speak and use the garden and equipment for what it offers. Who will maintain maintenance of the garden following the last steps of construction? What is the right way to entice their participation? Community partners brainstormed and several ideas were thrown around. The Hamilton United Methodist Church, who hosts the garden’s construction invited partners to their monthly fellowship meeting and weekly bible group to reach out to church members. Garden stewards, on loan from the Richard Stockton College of NJ, will be assisting in reaching out to local groups such as PAL, the Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and Princesses, an Atlantic City based young women’s group.

Again, partners will come together with those that have responded to these efforts and more program planning will occur. This brainstorming activity has paved the way to seeking out new gardeners and those that will benefit from the Hamilton Community Garden.

Also that evening agreement was met that a dedication ceremony will be held on site at the Hamilton Community Garden on Wednesday, August 27th, 2014 from 5-7pm. Atlantic City Mayor

What is the saying? “If you build it, they will come?” Working on a community project, such as a community garden, has proven that it takes a lot more than muscle and labor to create a successful program. Partners meet on a weekly basis to continue discussion around programming and needed maintenance of the garden.

Ready to Grow: Plants are in at the Hamilton Community Garden

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After months of uncooperative weather, several organized working days and several unorganized work days at the Hamilton Memorial United Methodist Church the community garden project was at a point where enough work had been done to be able to plant in the garden beds. Amidst necessary work to the irrigation system, community partners and volunteers were able to come together for a “Planning and Planting” day Thursday, May 29, 2014.

While some of the beds were still under construction due to a hold up with the irrigation, at least 10 of the beds had been filled with soil and topped off with a variety of veggies. Several members from the church, garden stewards from the Richard Stockton College and additional community partners totaled an approximate 20 people in attendance for the planning and planting. On the Friday evening following, a student group, led by two local artists began work on the mural slated to enhance the garden site along a back wall. This will be a great compliment to the garden. At the end of the planting a small team assembled to discuss the development of a programming and maintenance schedule for gardening participants.

Though it is exciting to get plants in the garden beds there is still more work to be done. So what is next? Volunteers from the NJ Carpenter’s Union, Local #255 from Atlantic City will continue to assist the project be completing an amphitheater and pergolas for shade. The carpenter’s efforts have been greatly appreciated thus far. With their help a wall along one side of the garden for security and vertical gardening was constructed. Additional community partners will assist in concrete work, brick pavers for sidewalks, as well as the construction of the physical activity equipment that is intended for the garden area. Back to work! The construction of the Hamilton Community Garden, the rebuilding of a great garden following Super Storm Sandy in 2012, would not be possible without the many helping hands of our community partners. Much thanks…

Ground Breaking at Hamilton Garden

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Early in the morning on March 15th, 2014 AtlantiCare Growing Green and A Work in Progress were joined by their many community partners at the Hamilton United Methodist Church in Atlantic City to break ground on a new community garden site. Partners took part by lending a hand, disassembling the existing damaged beds of the Hamilton Garden, making way for the new raised garden beds, physical activity center and outdoor cooking/learning station.  The garden was sadly destroyed in Super Storm Sandy’s wake in October 2012 but plans have been made to rebuild and expand the garden this Spring 2014.

Though demolition was the main goal on that date, a great part of the existing garden was moved to a “storage area” on the church’s grounds to await its reuse in the new garden’s construction. Waste not! Shrubs and flower bulbs were also transplanted to other locations in the church yard. A break in the winter weather actually allowed workers in their T-shirts, rather than winter coats, to enjoy the sunshine and labor. Even young volunteers were there with smiles on their faces as they planted seeds in recycled newspaper pots with volunteers. Hopes are to transplant those seedlings into the garden beds after their completion. A special surprise visitor, Atlantic City Mayor, Don Guardian, stopped by to check in on progress and provide support to the project. See here for news coverage of the work day by local news station, NBC40.

The ground is now ready and awaiting construction of the outside fitness center and raised garden beds. What will be original to this community garden is a specific area for local chefs to donate their cooking expertise to gardeners and local community members to teach farm to table recipes and cooking tips.The next step in rebuilding this once great community garden of Atlantic City will be to meet with volunteers that will assist with the construction of the raised beds, pipe in plumbing and run electrical work. As said before, great things are growing in Atlantic City.

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(Liz Donaghy, Garden Goddess by the Sea, giving some gardening expertise to volunteers at the Hamilton Community Garden.)

 A special “Thank you” to those that came out to get the Hamilton Garden project rolling… John DeRichie, Project Architect, SOSH Architects, Don Kelly, Kelly’s All Pro Landscaping, Jim Andrews, James Andrews Designs, LLC, Liz Donaghy, Garden Goddess by the Sea, LLC, Employees from W. Kline Construction, Members of the Hamilton AME United Methodist Church, Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian, First Ward Councilman Aaron Randolph, Members of “Healing Gardens”, Pastor Jevon Caldwell, Carpenter Rich Engelmann from Carpenter’s Local #255.

#Atlanticare #AtlanticareGG #WorkinProgress #ShapingNJ #DOAC

Planning Meeting: Rebuilding A Local Community Garden

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The AtlantiCare Growing Green program was invited to join A Work in Progress Foundation, non-profit community program of Margate, NJ on Sunday, February 24, 2014 at the Hamilton Memorial United Methodist Church in Atlantic City, NJ to meet the members/gardeners of the church.

The Hamilton Church community garden was sadly devastated in October 2012 by Super storm Sandy. The garden had been rebuilt but not to its past glory. The ShapingNJ grant will assist to rebuild the garden to its original beauty while expanding its scope to include an outside cooking area and learning center. There will also be an outside physical activity area for children/local families to utilize. Planning for programming surrounding healthy cooking/eating and safe, physical activity is already under way.  Additional funding for the program and support will be provided by A Work in Progress, AtlantiCare Growing Green, SOSH Architects, Kline Construction and several other community partners.

AtlantiCare’s Samantha Kiley, Director of Community Engagement & Client Relations, and Cookie Till, founder and president of A Work in Progress Foundation met local residents and past gardeners to discuss plans for the renovation to their community garden planned for Spring 2014.

The gardeners and community members in attendance were pleased to hear of the plans for the garden and additional areas of expansion to the property. As well they committed to participate and help sustain this exciting new and improved gardening/community space. The garden and public space will be accessible by not only by the church members but local residents and groups as well. Additional community groups are encouraged to participate in the project.

A clean-up date is scheduled for March 15, 2014 weather permitting.  WORKERS WELCOME!