Challenging paths, lead to beautiful discoveries . . .

Challenging paths, lead to beautiful discoveries . . .

Challenges have a way of pushing you to new heights.  Our Farmer’s Market and Children’s Community Garden have brought about many challenges over the last year; permits, space restraints, keeping dedicated farmers engaged and our latest challenge; another non-profit in town starting their own Farmer’s Market; which could have the potential to water-down our farmer’s profits.

We overcame these obstacles by staying focused on our goal of bringing fresh fruits and vegetables to the community on a regular basis. Particularly for our seniors, who may not be able to get to a market for fresh-picked produce.  One of the things we have learned along the way – It’s not about how it gets done, just that it DOES get done.  We have been working hard to ensure our Farmer’s stay engaged and wanting to come to market.  We understand that they need to earn a living and if coming to our Farmer’s Market is not profitable to them, they may stop coming.  Working with the town, we will bus seniors to the market each week, so they may make their purchases.  We will also blog, post on Facebook and Twitter and announce to our members and community that the market is up and running in hopes to keep customers coming back for more of the wonderful fresh fruits and veggies!

We have been in talks with the other non-profit in town, so that together we may have stronger traction in keeping our Farmer’s earning when they come to town.  As such, the additional Farmer’s market will be located on the other side of town and will run on the weekends, while ours runs only on week days.  This way, there will be plenty of produce for the community without competition for the farmer’s.

So although the road may have some bumps along the way, we are all able to enjoy the harvest in the end!



Garfield Partners Meet at New Garden Site

jewel street garden

Partners in the City of Garfield’s F.U.N. (Fitness, Unity, and Nutrition) Coalition pictured at the site of the Shaping NJ Community Garden on February 14th, 2013. The site for the garden has been identified at the Jewel Street Spray park. Partners from The Garfield YMCA, City Health Department, Garfield City Parks and Recreation, Garden State Urban Farms, Rutgers Co-operative Extension, and EarthBox, discussed the lay-out of the garden and then met back at the Garfield YMCA for a demonstration by Molly Phillbin on EarthBox assembly and an overview of the curriculum for preschool, school aged and adult curriculum.

The coalition meeting also included discussion on recruiting community volunteer groups and master gardener coordination for a training date and installation date. Training will happen in March of 2013 and installation will be done in a 2-phase approach. The boxes and layout will be done in phase 1, and seedling will be planted in the boxes at a ribbon cutting of the garden at the YMCA’s Healthy Kid’s Day in April. Some boxes will have seedlings planted during Installation Day with the hopes that fast growing crops may be ready by the Ribbon Cutting and Healthy Kid’s Day.

AtlantiCare’s Healthy Community 2013

AtlantiCare’s Healthy Community 2013 project will target adults and families residing in the neighborhoods of Atlantic City with limited access to the Atlantic City Boardwalk for physical activity and little access to fresh produce and other healthy foods due to transportation barriers. Representatives from AtlantiCare and the Atlantic County Health Department met this week to plan the implementation of this program with the goals of providing opportunities for safe physical activity and increasing access to healthy foods in the target neighborhoods.

The group identified three parks in Atlantic City where walking paths could be established or where existing paths could be enhanced with signs detailing the benefits of walking. These parks are in neighborhoods accessible to a large percentage of Atlantic City’s residents and also offer a safe environment for exercise. Next steps in regard to the walking paths include: (1) contact Atlantic City’s Parks and Public Property Office and obtain approval for the placement of walking signs in the identified areas; (2) begin the design and production of walking signs and trail maps; and (3) finalize a distribution plan for trail maps and educational information to individuals in the targeted neighborhoods.

Relative to increasing access to healthy foods in Atlantic City, the group will be contacting the managers of farm markets and supermarkets close by to garner their participation in a produce voucher program. Residents in the target neighborhoods will receive $2 vouchers to be used for the purchase of fresh produce at participating markets. The AtlantiCare marketing department will design and produce the vouchers.

Finally, the group discussed holding healthy food preparation demonstrations at parent meetings at Atlantic City schools, at several of the high rise/apartment buildings in target neighborhoods, and inside a local grocery store. Demonstrations may also be offered in conjunction with the Health Department’s blood pressure screenings that are held throughout the city several times a month. One demonstration was scheduled as part of the Minority Multicultural Health fair to be held by the Atlantic City Health Department and the Southern New Jersey Perinatal Cooperative on April 23.  At that event fruit smoothies will be demonstrated and sampled by attendees of health fair. Recipe cards will also be provided.

Gathering to SHAPE Perth Amboy

On January 28, we met with the Perth Amboy Recreation Department and the Perth Amboy Urban Enterprise Zone regarding Play Streets Program and the Farmers Market. We held discussions on dates, locations and activities for the Play Streets Program. After setting a date and time for the Farmers Market, we received the permit from the Health Department, which will allow us to have the Farmers Market in our parking lot.  We have scheduled our partnership meeting for February 20.  We are extremely grateful to ShapingNJ, with your help we are gathering to SHAPE Perth Amboy!