(Camden, NJ)- The statewide non-profit New Jersey Tree Foundation received funding from ACTrees to develop a Community Groves℠ project planting fruit and nut trees at the Cooper Sprouts Garden.
BUILDING THE TEAM
Lesson: Community Gardens
The City of Camden is considered a food desert with nearly 80,000 residents lacking access to healthy food. Camden is home to over 100 community gardens within its 9-square mile border. More and more often, gardeners are requesting fruit trees, and this project was the first step in meeting that need. The Cooper Lanning Civic Association was thrilled to partner on this project, bringing a People’s Garden to Camden. At Cooper Sprouts, residents had been growing vegetables for nearly a year and had been requesting fruit trees for just as long.
Being the first recipient of fruit trees in Camden brought positive attention to the Cooper Sprouts Garden. In fact, Mayor Dana Redd and Camden’s Shade Tree Advisory Board were so excited about the event that they partnered with New Jersey Tree Foundation to promote it as the city’s Annual Arbor Day Celebration. That day, they worked with volunteers from Cooper Hospital, Kappa Alpha Alpha and the Camden Aquarium. The event itself created new bonds and partnerships that did not exist prior. Cooper Sprouts Garden received a great deal of positive attention since the April planting and was featured in a tour of Camden’s community gardens as the only one with fruit trees. The Camden City Garden Club expressed similar enthusiasm: “With over 100 community gardens enrolled in our program, it’s great that this project can serve as a model for others.”
The Cooper Lanning Civic Association has organized volunteer days to beautify the garden and presented to numerous groups, including the new Cooper Hospital medical students, about the existence and purpose of the garden. The New Jersey Tree Foundation, the Camden City Garden Club, and the City of Camden will continue to use Cooper Sprouts as a demonstration site, bringing people from all over the city and state to visit this amazing community garden. The New Jersey Tree Foundation hopes to expand upon its work in the future, as resources allow, maximizing fruit and nut production at Cooper Sprouts Garden while sharing fruit tree opportunities with other community gardeners in Camden. All thanks to ACTrees!
PLANNING AND IMPLEMENTATION
In April 2012 the trees were planted and mulched. Since then, the Cooper Lanning Civic Association has been responsible for maintenance and care. They water the trees 20-30 gallons a week, maintain a 2-4” layer of mulch surrounding each tree (but not touching the base), and weed the tree beds as needed. They conducted this maintenance throughout the spring and summer and will continue to do so throughout the fall. Prior to the winter, the Civic Association will apply fresh mulch to the trees and stop watering once the ground freezes. They will return to their regular maintenance routine in spring 2013. Monitoring of the trees is done weekly by the Cooper Lanning Civic Association and monthly by New Jersey Tree Foundation staff. If ever there is a cause for concern, the Civic Association will contact the Tree Foundation immediately. At this time, there have been no concerns.
Lesson: Harvest and Distribution
The fruit has been, and will continue to be, provided free of charge to all Cooper Sprout community garden members. Additional fruits and vegetables are donated to Camden’s soup kitchens or to the South Jersey Food Bank. Food is not sold under any circumstance. The Cooper Lanning Civic Association harvests and distributes the food.
Learn more about Community Groves℠.