As soon as I saw a photo of the lovely Scotch Plains Fanwood Community Garden, I just knew I had to blog about it. When I see people come together to make a difference in their community, it gets me right in the feelies.
LynnSusan Wurzburger of Scotch Plains is a retired attorney and avid gardner, as well as the chairperson of the SPF Community Garden Committee. Along with several other invaluable committee members (Billy Malone, Joyce Johnson, Wanderlan Silva, and Patrice Barth), LynnSusan has put her blood, sweat, and tears into this project of launching a community garden. After their original site location fell through, the Community Garden found its current (and perfect!) home on the grounds of the historic Frazee House in Scotch Plains.
According to LynnSusan: “The Frazees always treated their property as a gathering place, even hosting meetings during the Revolutionary War. We want to salute them and bring people back to the land. With the Community Garden, we’ve returned part of their land to its original purpose, which was a farm.”
The SPF Community Garden occupies an 80′ by 80′ plot that is fenced in, plus another 20 feet beyond the fence line. The organization Groundwork Elizabeth: Come Grow with Us provided materials for the first 14 beds and set up a helpful irrigation system for the Garden. The remaining 14 beds were built by the committee and volunteers using materials that were donated or purchased using rental fees. In addition to the 28 beds, there are six “demonstration gardens.”
The Garden officially opened in late July 2016, and already the beds are flourishing! Tomatoes, eggplant, squash, cucumbers, pole beans, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, beets, onions, garlic, parsnips, and a variety of flowers (specifically those that attract pollinators) all are growing in abundance. But the Garden is about more than just plants. LynnSusan said, “We’ve built a sense of community here, and it has been so gratifying to see the gardeners who ordinarily would not have met each other in day-to-day life come together and be so welcoming and helpful to one another.”
LynnSusan went on to tell me about some of the goals of the Garden. “We hope to demonstrate how easy it is to grow your own food. We also want to inspire a sense of charity as we try to establish a giving garden to donate to El Centro in Plainfield. We encourage our gardnerers to ‘grow a row,’ meaning grow an extra row of a vegetable or fruit for donation purposes.”
I loved hearing about how children are welcomed in the Garden. “We have a lot of young families who bring their kids with them. They children learn valuable lessons on how to plant, nurture, and harvest as well as eat what they grow. It’s essential to give kids an appreciation of the earth and teach them how to take care of it.”
Residents of Scotch Plains and Fanwood as well as local organizations (one bed is currently being tended by a Girl Scout troop!) can rent a garden bed for $40 for a year. According to LynnSusan: “Next year we’re hoping to add 10-12 additional garden beds. We also plan to incorporate special gardens accessible to the elderly and disabled children.”
In October, the Community Garden will begin accepting applications for spring 2017. Current gardeners have first choice of beds, then it opens up to all the local residents and organizations on a first-come, first-serve basis.
If you’d like to see the beautiful SPF Community Garden in person, visit the Harvest Homecoming fundraiser on October 1st from 11 am to 3 pm! This fun-filled family event is being cohosted by the Community Garden and the Rotary. There will be live music, food trucks, a petting zoo, face painting, children’s crafts, square dancing, games/prizes, and more! Although admission to the Harvest Homecoming is free, donations are welcomed that will benefit both the Garden and the Frazee House.
The SPF Community Garden is located at the Frazee House: 1451 Raritan Road in Scotch Plains. If you would like to learn more about the Community Garden, visit their website at http://spfcommunitygarden.wix.com/garden, or donate to this wonderful grassroots organization through their GoFundMe page: https://www.gofundme.com/spfcommunitygarden.