Freehold Borough Community Garden to mark decade of healthy production

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FREEHOLD – What began as a small community project a decade ago will celebrate a milestone in April.

On April 21, organizers and supporters of the Freehold Borough Community Garden will celebrate the garden’s 10th anniversary with a ceremony at 10 a.m. at 18 Lloyd St. Attendees are expected to include Mayor Nolan Higgins, Councilman Michael DiBenedetto, Recreation Commission Chairwoman Susan Greitz and students from Freehold High School.

According to Jeanne Patterson, the community garden coordinator, the students will sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the mayor will participate in a ceremonial planting.

The community garden has its roots in August 2008 when Donna Koloski contacted the Rutgers Masters Gardeners of Monmouth County to inquire about creating a community garden in Freehold Borough. The community garden officially opened on April 4, 2009, according to Patterson.

A community garden allows individuals to lease a plot of land in the garden and to raise and keep the fruits, vegetables and plants their plot produces.

Over the years, the garden has been cleaned, expanded and populated with new plants. Strawberry and herb beds were created, and asparagus was planted in the summer of 2011. According to Patterson, in the spring of 2012, raspberries and blackberries were added, along with garlic and onion chives. Daffodil bulbs were donated to the garden in the fall of 2011.

The garden was improved in the spring of 2013 with a $1,000 grant provided by the Garden Club of New Jersey. Patterson said the money was used to automate the water system for certain plots and to purchase sprayers, hoses, locks and a storage shed.

“That was a tremendous help because one of our greatest challenges has been watering our plots,” she said. “This system also gave the garden a smaller carbon footprint. The Garden Club of New Jersey also donated four new azaleas.”

In 2017, an automated drip and soaker line irrigation unit was completed for the full garden.

As the garden enters its 10th year, it continues to be a popular addition to the borough. Crops grown at the garden have been shared among its members, and with food banks and the community.

“We are still teaching, learning, planting and sharing with each other and the greater community with our vegetable harvest donations to the Open Door (food pantry),” Patterson said.