UNION COUNTY, NJ – A new hydroponic garden funded by Union County has been brightening up the winter months at the Richmond Terrace senior housing apartments in Plainfield. The new garden was funded through the Freeholder Board’s Union County Means Green community garden grant program.

“The hydroponic garden brings the residents of Richmond Tower together and engages them with indoor activities during a time of year when getting outside can be difficult,” said Freeholder Chair Bette Jane Kowalski. “It is very gratifying to see the Union County Means Green grant program continue to produce fresh vegetables and contribute to the community throughout the year.”

The Freeholder Board launched the Union County Means Green grant program in 2016, to help more residents experience the benefits of growing fresh produce. In addition to improved nutrition, vegetable gardening provides opportunities for social activities, recreation, education and community service.

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Union County Means Green provides funds for traditional soil-based gardens, including waist-high beds that accommodate wheelchairs and walkers. The grant program also covers hydroponic gardens and other innovative approaches to urban gardening.

Members of the Richmond Towers Garden Club tend the hydroponic garden. They will harvest the new crop of Tuscan kale and Butterhead lettuce, and distribute it to other residents.

During the outdoor growing season, the Garden Club also donates vegetables from several raised bed garden plots on the grounds of the housing complex.

Any Union County municipality or local nonprofit organization is welcome to apply for a UC Means Green grant. Applications are still open for the 2019 Union County Means Green grant cycle. The deadline is Tuesday, April 2 at 5:00 p.m.

For more details and a downloadable application form, visit Union County at ucnj.org/ garden-grants or download it herepdf.

Union County Means Green is administered on behalf of the Freeholder Board by the nonprofit organization Groundwork Elizabeth. For more information contact Groundwork at 908-289-0262 or info@groundworkelizabeth.org.

For quick links to all Union County environmental programs visit The Green Connection, ucnj.org/green-connection.

For all Union County programs and services visit ucnj.org, call the Public Info Line, 877-424-1234, email info@ucnj.org or use the online Contact Form.

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Photo caption: Members of the Richmond Towers Garden Club welcome Freeholder Chair Bette Jane Kowalski to their new hydroponic garden in the community room of the Richmond Towers senior residential complex in Plainfield. The garden was funded through a grant from the Freeholder Board’s Union County Means Green Community Garden grant program. Pictured here are  (l. to r.) Richmond Towers Program Director Darryl Clark, Garden Club members Michele Taylor, Valerie Stankowitz, and Perla Blanco, Plainfield Housing Authority Executive Director Randall Wood, Union County Freeholder Chair Bette Jane Kowalski, Garden Club members Lorraine MacNamara, Gladys Jackson and Sheila Jackson, Groundwork Elizabeth Executive Director Jonathan Phillips, and Garden Club member Estella Rivera. Photo credit: Jim Lowney/County of Union.