RANDOLPH, NJ- After much planning and anticipation, the Randolph Community Garden opened for its inaugural season on Wednesday, May 20th. Local gardeners have been eager to start planting and several were already on site as the garden officially opened.
Randolph Mayor Christine Carey, who attended the ribbon cutting event, was impressed with the layout of the garden.
“This was obviously well-planned and well-designed,” said Carey. “I’m so happy the project is completed and now open for the Randolph community to enjoy.”
The community garden, which is located within Veterans Community Park on Calais Road, has been a long-time dream for many residents dating back to early planning meetings in 2012. The 2016 Parks and Recreation Master Plan included recommendations for development of a community garden based on input from residents.
Since then a group of volunteers eventually became the official Community Garden Sub-Committee and worked diligently with Recreation Director Russ Newman and Deputy Mayor Joanne Veech. The group extensively researched community gardens and visited several local gardens to determine the best approach for Randolph’s garden.
Deputy Mayor Veech acknowledged that the information gathering process was critical to the project's success stating, "We took the best ideas and brought them back to incorporate into our garden." For many years, Veech has been promoting and championing the idea of the garden, and her support has been paramount in helping it finally come to life.
"This garden is a gem for our community and fits so nicely into the new park being built,” said Veech. “Residents will be able to use the walking trail around it and take in all the beauty that will come from it.”
The new garden, which follows organic gardening principles, includes 168 beds which are available for annual lease by Randolph residents. Currently, over 130 of the 6’ X 14” beds have been leased for an annual fee of $40.
Gardeners were required to attend several educational sessions to understand the garden's guidelines and best practices for community gardening. While most gardeners plan to grow vegetables, a Girl Scout troop has leased a bed, and they're planning to create a pollinator garden to bring bees to the garden. In the future, the Community Garden Committee hopes to host farm-to-fork gatherings and other events.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the Community Garden Sub-Committee developed a plan for opening that incorporated social distancing and other protective measures. These guidelines also ensure that the number of people on-site is limited. Proper health and sanitary restrictions are in place and gardeners are required to wear gloves and face coverings.