The Giving Garden at Wagner Farm is still going strong! We have many volunteers, including children, who grow fresh produce for our area food banks. Over 10,000. pounds last year once again! Stop by early in the mornings to see fellow volunteers sharing a cup of coffee & homemade muffins before starting their work. It's such a wonderful way to give back!
My name is George and I have been helping at the Giving Garden of WFAF for the past 2 years by watering the vegetable plots, repairing broken hoses, spreading horse manure, harvesting and distributing some of the food to the North Plainfield Pantry of the Food Bank Network of Somerset County. My wife and I distribute the food there the last two Saturdays of every month to approximately 300 clients. This year they received fresh apples, peaches, tomatoes, eggplant, squash, and peppers. They were very appreciative of the healthy produce and actually shared cooking instructions with each other. The end of this year's growing season was a highlight for my wife and me. We were part of a group of 6 volunteers from the Giving Garden who picked 1700 pounds of apples at the Rutgers Experimental Farm in Pittstown in a four hour period on a Friday morning which was delivered to the pantry. The farm provided almost 4 tons of food to the Food Bank Network some of which ultimately reached us. The Wagner Farm Arboretum Foundation provided us the opportunity to help out in the community and also benefit the clients at the food pantry.
I am a board member as a volunteer. Our entire organization is run and manned by volunteers. We provide gardening opportunities for all through our Community Garden. A portion of the Community Garden is designated as our" Giving Garden" where we grow produce and donate it to the needy. We have probably donated over 50,000 lbs. so far. We also provide educational programs through the schools. We have a children's garden where people can come and enjoy nature. We have a spring and holiday boutique, plant sale, children's garden event and a halloween event. We have hundreds of volunteers that are wonderful, caring and giving individuals that make these opportunities possible.
I am principal of a local elementary school. We have worked with volunteers from the Giving Gardens for the past four years to provide PreK through Grade 5 students the opportunity to plant seeds, care for the seedlings at school, and then travel to the farm to plant their vegetable plant. The experience for students - learning about service work, the history of the farm, and the importance of giving back to their community - has been outstanding. We also established a fifth grade service project in which students spend a full day at the farm preparing planting beds, mulching paths, and working together with adults volunteers to accomplish a variety of tasks. Our school community is fortunate to have the opportunity to work with such an outstanding organization and group of volunteers.
I have been a volunteer at the Giving Garden through my Rotary Club for a few years now, and for me it has been a wonderful experience! The spot itself is very quiet and peaceful, and I lose track of time while weeding or harvesting. After spending the entire day indoors in an office setting, it gives me the opportunity to be outdoors AND do something constructive for the community at large. The project is well organized, and has involved many others from the larger community. It is my favorite place to go during my (very limited) leisure time. -Vicky
This year I had a plot in the Giving Garden and planted 150 cabbage seedlings in the Spring. Some of them had to be replaced because of the wet Spring, however, during the warm weather that followed, the cabbages grew and grew. I was very happy to do my part for the Food Banks and other charities where we provide food. One of the best experiences, is working with the Grammar School Children, who plant their seedlings in the Garden. It is a very rewarding experience to be able to grow and harvest food for those less fortunate. Phyllis Lindquist
In late 2006 the Wagner Farm Arboretum was in the final stages of planning the Community Garden section of the Arboretum. Deer fence was in place and everyone anxious to go. Recognizing the need for fresh produce to feed the poor in the area, the trustees established the Giving Gardener's Project and allocated over 10,000 square feet of gardening space within the Community Garden area, purchased a tool shed and some tools for use by the volunteers. Their leadership and financial support continues to this day. As project director, I have been privileged and proud to work with the arboretum and hundreds of volunteers who are responsible for the success of the giving gardens. We have seen the yearly food distributions increase from 2000 pounds through 3 agencies to as much as 20,000 pounds through 10 agencies. Thanks and congratulations to the hard working volunteers who make this possible.
I spent a day planting in the summer, and enjoyed it immensely. Knowing the garden raises food for area food banks and soup kitchens helped make the work more rewarding, but the Giving Garden's excellent organization and planning made it easy to do. I worked with two fellow employees weeding a plot and planting beans and squash. I'm not an experienced gardener, but I actually learned a lot working with Ernie and at the Giving Garden. I'm looking forward to returning to help out more.
My father and I discovered the Giving Garden at Wagner Farm last week. I spend Thursdays with my father who now lives a few miles from the farm at an assisted living facility due to his Alzheimer's/Dementia. He and I became volunteers and spent a fabulous afternoon together at the garden, spreading manure, pulling weeds and, when my father grew too weary we sat together sketching and painting a watering can. My father has always wanted to serve his community. It is difficult to find ways for him to serve. The garden provides the opportunity for us to spend time together working in the sun, laughing and talking, while also being of service to our community. The interaction with the other volunteers is uplifting. I am grateful.
One of the Wagner Farm Arboretum Foundation's projects is the Community Garden, where garden plots are available for rent by individuals, families or groups. This gardening opportunity helps people with fresh vegetables, a healthy lifestyle, and interpersonal relationships.
But even more important is the Giving Garden. This is a portion of the Community Garden that has been set aside for volunteers to cultivate and grow vegetables for others. I have been a volunteer for several years, working with my Rotary Club to grow vegetables in first one, then two, and then four plots, each 4 feet by 40 feet.
We've built raised beds with other volunteers, enhanced soil with compost and manure, planted seeds, weeded like cracy, watered through the hot summer, and then enjoyed the harvest time. Hundreds and hundreds of pounds of carrots, beets, tomatoes, green beans, squash, and other vegetables came from our plots and went to food pantries in our area, including the StarFish Food Pantry that we also support.
We could not have done it without the Giving Garden, and we would not have the Giving Garden were it not for the great folks at the Wagner Farm Aroboretum.