Wagner Farm Arboretum 2013 Year in Review
The year 2013 was a great year for the Arboretum thanks to all of the volunteers that keep it running. There were well over 12,000 volunteer hours contributed by the Trustees, committee members, Community Garden members, Giving Garden volunteers, Wagner Farm Arboretum Garden Club members and other groups such as Warren Recreation, Blue Ridge Club, Take Flight Dance Center, Morris-Somerset County Beekeepers Association, Pingry School, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Wyndham Rental, Wyndham Hotel Group, BASF, Bowker Company, L’Oreal, Merck, and many others. Those volunteer hours equal six full-time people working every Monday through Friday of the year. A special thanks goes to our permanent employee, office manager, Ann Marie McGowan, who is an intricate part of the Arboretum.
The year started with the registration of all of the Community Garden members and followed up with the Orientation meeting in March. During that time planning activities for the year took place, to include the Giving Garden and “Growing to Give” program for the Warren Elementary schools.
In March WFA volunteers made their yearly visit to one of Warren’s elementary schools with soil, planting containers, and seeds, to assist students in planting vegetables for the Giving Garden. The “Growing to Give” program is structured to teach children about growing vegetables and giving to the less fortunate. The program concludes with the students traveling to the Arboretum and planting their seedlings in the Giving Garden beds.
The Spring Blooms event was held in May and it included a plant sale, carnival games and prizes in the Children’s Garden, a garden art competition, and crafts from local artisans.
The 2nd Annual Butterfly Release, Honey Extraction, and Arts & Craft Fayre was held in July. A FunBus, craft and food vendors, and two butterfly releases were organized in the Children’s Garden. Rich, the beekeeper, held his annual honey extraction demonstration in the office building.
During the spring and summer there was much activity involving volunteers in the Giving Garden and in the Children’s Garden. Since its inception the Giving Garden has donated over 100,000 pounds of produce to the needy through organizations such as soup kitchens and food pantries in five New Jersey counties. The Children’s Garden was well maintained. Five raised garden beds were added; each in the shape of a petal and as a whole it is a flower. In the spring of 2014 the beds will be filled with plants that will represent the five senses with each petal representing a different sense. A shed was also installed to house the tools needed to maintain the Children’s Garden.
This year a Farmers’ Market began that ran from June well into the fall. At the height of the season the market had 10 vendors. Plans are underway for a market in 2014 with some of the same vendors and also adding new ones. Returning vendors include Mini Mac Farm, Paolo’s Kitchen, Gourmet Nuts and Pickles, just to name a few. Additional vendors may include a pizza vendor so you can shop and take pizza home for dinner.
Held in October, the 4th Annual Brite Nites event was a huge success. A record number of people—about 10,000—came out to view the pumpkin path, haunted house, and enjoy a sweet treat in the Black Hat Café. Every year new pumpkin designs are added in the pumpkin path and this year’s additions included amongst other items a scene from Madagascar and a 8’ high, 12 ‘ long smoke breathing dragon. A sincere thank you is extended to Wells Fargo Advisors for sponsoring this year’s event. It was a spectacular gathering. Plus the weather couldn’t have been better!
The year ended on a merry note with a holiday boutique stocked by local vendors and a visit from Santa Claus. Santa dropped by the Children’s Garden Gazebo giving children an early gift and an opportunity to have their picture taken with Santa by a professional photographer.
We are looking forward to 2014 as we plan for a butterfly conservatory. Again I would like to thank all of the wonderful volunteers that make the Arboretum successful!