Community Garden Plan of Action Taking Shape
Residents could grow vegetables in their own garden for a small annual fee.
A group of residents is beginning to formulate a plan for a community garden in the township.
The idea for a community garden is the brainchild of resident Victor Alfieri. Alfieri is an advocate for modern urban homesteading and the sustainable living movement. He has several small gardens on his property and grows about a ton of food annually. He is spearheading an effort to change the law to allow more people in town to own chicken hens, which he says are crucial to sustainable living.
"There are so many good things that can come out of a community garden other than just vegetables," Alfieri said.
Alfieri would help manage and maintain the garden if the project ever comes to furition.
“It’s about sustainable living, coming together as a community, and healthy living,” said Mary Linteris, the project coordinator.
The group is trying to find a suitable location for the garden. The Van Riper-Hopper House is one possible site the group is considering. The project would initially be funded with tax dollars, but the group would work to pay back that investment.
The garden would consist of about 56, 33 square-foot gardens. Residents would pay between $30 and $80 in annual dues for each garden they own. Participants will be able to plant vegetables or flowers, but with some exceptions. Sunflowers would probably not be allowed to grow in corners because of the shadows they would cast over the rest of gardens.
The group is still formulating a series of rules and regulations that would govern what could and could not be planted on the site. Residents could not use herbicides and pesticides on the property.
The team wants the garden to provide residents with an opportunity to work together and meet new people.
“We’re such a huge town and nothing really connects everyone because there’s so many little neighborhoods in town, but this can,” said Erica Evans, the founder of North Jersey Locavores. The grassroots organization works to educate others about eating locally grown organic food.
Alfieri said that the garden could help save people money. He said residents would no longer need to throw vegetables out that have spoiled.
Alfieri said that community gardens become places to learn about the environment, farming, and other cultures. He said if the idea is approved and is successful, he would want to plant a garden at schools in the township.
“If children can be exposed to gardening at a young age, it may change their lives,” Evans said. “They need to be exposed to it to know that farming is a viable career path to take.”
The group will make a presentation at a council meeting later this year.
Rich Stomber, chairman of the Wayne Environmental Commission, said a community garden is a great way to get people to think about where their food comes from.
“People should be more interested in where their food, especially vegetables, come from,” Stomber said. “Most food doesn’t get shipping to people without being processed and becoming the product of a large corporation.”