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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Montclair Public Library Gets its own Community Garden July 1st, wanna help set it up or keep it healthy?!

Montclair, N.J. – The Montclair Public Library values not only traditional learning, but also innovative, experiential education. While it doesn’t have a field to cultivate a large scale community garden, its sun-drenched front lawn will be the site of a 4x4 garden plot for tomatoes, herbs, and other edible plants this summer.
Developed in conjunction with food activists and volunteers, Melina Macall and Eileen Sweeny, the garden will encourage neighborhood children and nearby residents to learn about the importance of green space, growing fresh vegetables and healthy eating. With public attention on the climbing obesity rates and soaring carbon emissions, Montclairites are taking a keener interest in the origins and nutritional content of their food as well as its impact on their health and the environment.
Through its collections, programming, and usage of space, the Montclair Public Library is participating in this lively conversation. For the last two years, MPL has participated in Food Day, a national day of action for healthy, affordable, sustainable food. This year, the library and Terra at the Isabel Rose Café held one of the first Fight Hunger the Healthy Way food drives to benefit the Human Needs Food Pantry, which received a matching grant from the Partners for Health Foundation. Terra serves organic and fair trade food and drink and is a Starbrite Farm Community Supported Agriculture pick-up site. Furthermore, the Montclair Office of Environmental Affairs offers a Green Film Series about food and the environment in the library auditorium in collaboration with Community Green.
“This garden will emphasize the importance of community involvement in its endurance and give everyone the opportunity to experience the joy of seeing plants grow from seed to fruition,” said Macall. “There is nothing so delicious as fresh, home grown food, this garden provides an introduction to Montclarites to literally enjoy the fruits of their labors.”

To further promote the importance of the themes discussed above, the Easy Gardening Guide developed by United Way of Northern New Jersey will be made freely available in the Terra Café and library. Additionally, library programming will be developed to improve gardening and healthy eating education for the community.

Volunteers interested in assisting with weeding and watering through November 2014 should contact Eileen Sweeny. For more information about this library, please visit

Friday, June 20, 2014

We did it!!!

Well... we did it! School is over and we are proud to say that the STEM community has accomplished both a greenhouse for aquaponics and Rand Park has been brought to life again-- thanks to Mrs. Eckert/English's group. 

I was in charge, as well as my partner Tyler Nedzi, of the Raised Bed Garden sector at Rand Park. 

It feels like just yesterday when our plants were only seeds under a grow light. Tyler and I (along with other Raised Bed Garden members), planted about 7 different types of plants. However, only about 3 made it to Rand Park. 

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After we had a rough idea about how we wanted to make our garden look, my group popped over to Renaissance to take a peek at their finished garden. Because we were first year students who were redesigning Rand Park, we knew we were going to start off small. Although, looking at Renaissance's garden but amazing! 

We all know this is not a raised but-- but I had to share it anyway. This is basically a sack and the soil inside has seeds that have not yet sprouted. I thought that this was absolutely amazing because anybody could do this! You don't need lumber, nails, a drill... all you need is a sack- almost potato like :)- then fill it with dirt, plant your seeds, and magic!! 

Here is just another fun photo. This is me and at Renaissance's garden. They are growing radishes!! No, I didn't just steal it out of the ground- although it was so delicious I probably would have ;). 

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(Please excuse this awful photo of us caught off guard) 
Here myself and a group member of mine, Marcell. We are at the location in Rand Park where our beds will be. If you can see, next to me are things that look like little black smudges. They aren't smudges, but stakes. We were measuring and staking out where we wanted to build out beds. 

(Sorry for the slanted picture, my computer wont let me change it) 
Here is myself (stripped shirt), Tyler Nedzi (middle), and Marcell Brown (far right). We just finished building our first raised bed! There were two other helpers, but they just missed the photo :( 

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WE DID IT!!!! Tyler(far left), myself (next to Tyler), Noelle (next to me), and Elena(far right)- with Marcell- have all built and finished planting our first raised bed!!!!! We are so excited! In this bed, we have three different plants. Arugula, tomatoes and a bean plant.
Wasn't going to lie, the whole process was difficult, but well worth it. 

Hope you have enjoyed and have a wonderful summer!!!! 
- Florise Schwartz 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Raised Bed Take Two

After having so much fun last year (especially with the endless Swiss chard!), I decided to be slightly more diligent this year and map it out.  I added 2-3 inches of new soil to the bed from last year (which I'd pretty much completely ignored since last Fall), as well as 1 bag of leaf compost, 1 bag of mushroom compost, and some Plantone.  I used a combination of leftover seeds from last year, new seeds from Melina (in little envelopes with no directions!), and new seeds from the garden center.

Here's the map:
Green beans on top, like last year; fennel and kale in the second row (new this year); Swiss chard in the third row, like last year; and radishes and carrots in the fourth row.  As this was about as much organization as I could handle, I didn't pay too much attention to how I put the seeds in.  I planted everything from seed on May 3, 2014, and this is what it looked like two weeks later (May 17):

Here's what it looked like two weeks after that (May 31).  Still nothing edible, but looks good!

Here's what it looks like today (June 14):

So what have we had to eat?  A few pathetic-looking (perhaps last year's seeds?), but very tasty radishes, and that's it!  In my desperation, I actually found a recipe for radish leaf pesto so we could eat something from this gorgeous bed.  Other than that, the bean plants have lots of little flowers on them, and no beans--not sure what that means.  It looks like something must be going on under the soil where the fennel and the carrots are (I hope the bed is deep enough to support them).  Some kale leaves have come up, and it looks like the Swiss chard is slowly on it's way ( I think last year's was much more productive, but we'll see. . . ).  I think I'll add some more Plantone and call it a day. . . 

I welcome any feedback/suggestions!  Sharon