ANDOVER TOWNSHIP, NJ – From workshops to vendors to planting seedlings in the strawberry patch, there was something for everyone today at the Land & Tree Festival at the Sunset Vista Community Garden & Learning Center.
Located in Andover Township and known as “Sussex County’s Teaching Farm”, the anticipated possible thunderstorms stayed at bay, and attendees were able to participate in workshops about tree planting, composting, and soil preparation, enjoy a yoga demonstration, tour of the farm, lecture by a local raw food chef, and partake in an African Drum Circle.
Linda Grinthal, the farm’s owner said, “It was very nice to have so many people come and support the event today, and learning about things to connect them to the earth.”
Grinthal described the vendors that attended as “earth connected”, with woodcrafts, stained glass, honey, soap, candles, and more.
The non-profit Sprit of the Arts Foundation hosted the event.
The Grinthal family moved to the home, with the 20-acre property, and after the arrival of their third child, Grinthal sought a career where she could be home with her family (she worked as a financial planner, and spent many hours on the road), while still providing for them.
She first started Farm Fun DayCare, where she started teaching the children under her care about nature, and built an outdoor classroom. The children enjoyed their time outside, especially in a garden they started from seeds. Later, they created a butterfly garden, herb garden, potato/garlic patch, and hiking trail. From her experience, she became a “Certified Nature Explore Classroom” through the Arbor Day Foundation. From there, they built a natural playground, and created a music circle, and teepee as part of the program.
Farm Fun DayCare evolved into Sunset View Farm Community Supported Garden, after the DEP changed some regulations and it no longer became feasible for the daycare to exist. The garden permitted area residents to start their own garden plot, with 100 plots, using organic growing practices.
Sunset View Farm became a non-profit group in October of 2011, Sunset Vista. Under the not-for-profit group, the property now has a chicken coop, produce stand, and enhanced butterfly and herb garden. Sunset Vista also now accepts school field trips year-round.
Today, some of the regulars were out planting in their plots, and the new participants visiting the property for the Land & Tree Festival also helped.
“Kids made the holes and we planted the strawberries,” said Grinthal of the planting project at the celebration today.
Sunset Vista has some upcoming events to help prepare the community for the gardening season.
On May 5 from 10am to 11am, there will be a workshop, “All About Compost”, in the Activity Barn. The workshop will teach participants how to create a compost pile, and includes a tour of the farm to see the composting bins on site.
Also on May 5 from 11am to noon is another workshop, “Starting Seeds and Transplanting Seedlings”. The workshop teaches how to start seeds inside, then transplant them to a garden.
On May 12th and 13th, Sunset Vista will host its first annual plant sale. All seedling plants are organically grown. There will be five types of peppers, Genovese and sweet basil, four varieties of cucumbers, pumpkins, butternut squash, watermelons, cantaloupe, onlines, blackberry canes, and ten types of tomatoes (Beefsteak, Cherries, Polbig, Amish Paste, San Marzano Plume, Indigo Rose, Monica, Mountain Fresh Plus, Black Cherry, Nepal, Antohi Romanian, and gourmet.
The farm stand will include tomatoes, peppers, basil, beans, kale, chard, cucumbers, melons, and more on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
Call or email Matthew Odenthal, Manager of Operations for the email list at: (201) 377-8147, or sunsetviewfarmsCSAm@verizon.net.
Click here to access Sunset Vista’s website.
Click here for the Spirit of the Arts Foundation.