Community garden proposed for empty space next to 9/11 memorial in Edison

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EDISON – A proposal for a community garden is in the works and officials are calling it a win-win for the township.

Edison resident Jothi Kesavan said the idea started brewing among a number of residents during the novel coronavirus pandemic. They formed the Edison Community Garden Initiative (ECGI).

“Our goal is to build a community garden(s) in Edison to promote food security, food cultivation education (for children and adults), and improve community interaction,” he said. “At this moment, we have submitted our project proposal to the Open Space Committee and they in turn have submitted their recommendation to the township.”

Councilman Robert Diehl read a letter from Walter Stochel, chair of the township Open Space Advisory Committee, in regards to ECGI’s proposal at the Edison Township Council work session meeting on July 20.

In 2018, the Edison Open Space Advisory Committee suggested identifying sites for community gardens in the township in the Edison Open Space and Recreation Plan update. In 2020, Kesavan approached the committee asking if any public lands were available for a community garden.

“ECGI suggested a number of sites,” Stochel wrote in the letter. “The committee feels the site of Papaianni Park, area east of the 9/11 memorial [is best].”

Stochel noted the area is centrally located, and is mostly flat and open with a water line to the 9/11 fountain nearby. The site has ample parking and currently is not being used for any sports.

Also, some of the food produced in the community garden would be donated to the food pantry, Stochel said.

Diehl said he spoke to Stochel on beautification and maintenance of the site. He said there is discussion about cleaning up the entire area where the community garden is proposed.

“Whenever you build a garden, it looks nice when in full bloom, but it does not look so nice in the winter time,” he said.

With people power to create and maintain a community garden, it could be a real jewel for the township similar to the 9/11 memorial and the beautification projects on the Route 1 underpasses on Amboy Avenue, Diehl said calling the endeavor a “win-win” for the township.

Kesavan said in parallel, ECGI is planning to raise funds to build the community garden.