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Edison’s first community garden is now open at Swales Park

PHOTO BY KATHY CHANG/STAFF

EDISON – The community garden at Swales Park has become a family volunteer affair for the Kaul family.

For Romila Kaul it began essentially with a volunteer project for her son’s Cub Scout 318 group. She serves as den leader for the group.

She got her daughter Geetika, a student at John P. Stevens High School, involved.

“One of those projects was digging up composts for the garden,” Geetika recalled. “It was pretty labor intensive. I’ve stayed on helping the garden in various capacities since.”

As a longtime resident, Geetika said she has never heard of a community garden.

“The entire idea was pretty much foreign to me,” she said. “In the process of seeing this garden come together, I now understand the need for our community to have a space for residents to work together.

“The garden would not have been possible without team efforts of so many volunteers. I know it will grow to be more than just raised beds and seeds.

“It will become a space for gathers, a space to foster community build, as well as a space where we can witness how collective labor can bear fruit,” Geetika said.

The Raul family is in charge of one of the 34 available beds at the community garden for fruits and vegetables. Kaul said in their bed they are growing kale, beans, chiles, tomatoes and perennials.

The fenced-in garden features a pergola, as well as four raised, accessible beds for disabled individuals. Edison Community Garden Initiative (ECGI), a subset of the nonprofit Beautiful Edison, will operate the garden and all adult Edison residents are welcome to apply for a bed.

Members of ECGI and Beautiful Edison and township and county officials came together to announce the grand opening of the township’s first community garden on Aug. 16.

“This vision cast by Beautiful Edison, a dream of growing fresh fruits and vegetables in one of our parks has been going on for years, about 10 years,” Mayor Sam Joshi said. “My administration was happy to partner with them and make this happen. It’s my aim to create public spaces and programming where residents can connect with each other and make memories and appreciate our wonderful community.”

Joshi said members of the Department of Public Works worked through the heat and supply chain issues to build the beds.

The garden is the first in a series of Swales Park renovations. Soon, residents will be able to enjoy new walking paths and a sand volleyball court. Joshi plans to expand the community garden program in the coming years, establishing more gardens throughout the township.

Officials said some of the produce grown at the garden will be set aside to be delivered to various food pantries in the area.

For more information visit http://edisoncommunitygardens.org

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