Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological SciencesRutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences

Gardening the Garden State

Community Partnering Project: New Brunswick Community Garden Coalition

Building Gardens and Capacity with the Community Gardening Movement in New Brunswick

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This project engages Rutgers Landscape Architecture faculty and students with New Brunswick community garden leaders and participants to jointly design and implement improvements to the Shiloh Community Garden, Jardin de Esperanza, and Archibald Community Garden. The grant supports research, participatory design, and implementation. Designs will address plant selection (including fruit trees at Shiloh), access, and implementation. A pre- and post- survey will assess attitudes regarding civic engagement, gardening knowledge, and the community-university partnership itself to support ongoing strategic planning.

Aligned with national trends, interest in community gardening in New Brunswick has expanded in recent years. Interwoven social, economic, and environmental goals are often the impetus to start community gardens, while long-term viability requires attention to sustained participation, community outreach, healthy site conditions, and access to necessary supportive structures/resources (Lawson and Miller 2013). In New Brunswick, community gardening is also integral to community food security efforts. The New Brunswick Community Garden Coalition (NBCGC) – made up of representatives from community gardens, supporting agencies, and non-profit organizations – seeks to strengthen and sustain community gardens as essential sites for civic engagement, food access, and open space. The NBCGC goal is to increase the cultural and municipal value of community gardens through attention to their capacity as sites of engagement, community pride, education, and resource access. Currently, the NBCGC is developing workshops and other forums for education and interaction among community gardeners. The goal of this project is to work with participants in specific gardens to identify the opportunities, needs, and goals of the garden through discussions, design process, and construction of garden improvements.

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