How does your garden grow? Club developing community space for growing food

Photo: Courtesy Keyport Garden ClubPhoto: Courtesy Keyport Garden Club

KEYPORT — A small lot at Church and Elizabeth streets — where a water tower once stood — is being conditioned for growing fruits and vegetables.

In June, the Borough Council gave the Garden Club guardianship over the land. Club members intend to develop a community garden at the site by next spring.

“We had the soil tested which showed no toxins, which was a big relief to us,” said Diane Calabrese, the club president. “But, the soil is depleted and is not suitable for growing anything.”

To condition the soil, club members are  planting ground cover plants, mixing chicken manure and other compost into the soil.

Community gardens are one of the projects Sustainable Jersey suggests schools and communities take to help build greener communities.

“We just know, anecdotally, that gardens are fundamentally community building blocks,” said Donna Drewes, Sustainable Jersey’s co-director. “They help build a social junction and develop the fabric of a community.”

Community gardens in other towns become places where people of different ages and backgrounds tend to mix, Drewes said.

The club has seeded the gardens with $1,500 to plow the way for the garden, and members are seeking other grants.

If everything goes according to plan, applications will be available for residents early next year with planting to start in the spring.