Community Garden Thriving Despite Heat
South Orange residents are enthusiastic about their progress in the Third Street garden.
The garden was abuzz with activity on a recent evening when resident gardeners made their way down to the Third Street community garden. The sun was still high in the sky and the gardeners were busy pruning, watering and harvesting the organic produce. From afar the garden looked like a mass of green within the bounds of a tall fence, but a closer examination revealed luscious vining cucumbers, ripening tomatoes, sweet sugar snap beans, burgeoning eggplants, peppers and an abundance of herbs and other edibles. Many gardeners had also planted marigolds around their 4' x 12' plots, which not only add color, but also deter pests.
Douglas Purviance, novice gardener and Grammy-winning jazz trombonist, said this is his first attempt at gardening. However, his thriving collard greens, onions and tomatoes make him look like a seasoned pro. He picked the collards for a super-food smoothie, and watered his tomatoes, which were overflowing from the cages that he had staked around them. Gardening is a new found passion for Mr. Purviance and it was obvious that he was thoroughly enjoying the experience.
Husband and wife gardening team Chuck Prestinari and Bridget Hogan live in the Gaslight Commons and only have access to a balcony for gardening. The community garden was a great opportunity for them to have their own piece of land to cultivate. They were excitedly gathering produce for that evening's dinner and were happy to show off the results of their hard work, which included heirloom tomatoes, peppers and herbs, among others.
Erna Laves, a South Orange resident since 1960, has too much shade on her property to do any vegetable gardening, so she jumped at the chance to snag a plot. As her garden neighbor helped her maneuver the communal hose, she was quick to point out how her vegetables are thriving. She's already harvested three of her Early Girl tomatoes, and she has zucchinis "like weapons of mass destruction." Her plot is a lush of green and she was busy pruning back the zucchini plants so they didn't take over the rest of the garden. Her enthusiasm was palpable and her vibrant personality seemed to permeate the garden.
Walking around the Third Street Garden, it's obvious that its success is not only in the amount of produce being harvested, but also in the sense of community that is being fostered amongst the gardeners. Everyone seems to work together to help each other's plots thrive and they were proud not only of their own hard work, but also their neighbors'. The long-awaited garden is sure to be a source of pride in our tight-knit community for years to come… and delicious veggies!