Posts Tagged ‘Camden Community Garden Club’

Community Gardening and Its Impact on Seniors

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

 Community Gardening and Its Impact on Seniors

In continued celebration of NJFA’s 15th Anniversary, we’d like to share with you a guest blog from a former grantee, The Camden City Garden Club, Inc.

The Camden City Garden Club, Inc. (CCGC) operates several programs, which provide Camden residents of all ages access to fresh, locally-grown healthy food.  The CCGC’s Community Gardening Program enables 1000s of Camden families to grow their own food in community gardens, close to residents’ homes and promotes fellowship among neighbors.  The Camden City Garden Club provides plants, seeds, fertilizers, fencing, supplies and tips to its members for a small membership fee.

Through the Community Gardening Program, the CCGC works with the community to fight hunger and obesity in Camden, NJ, which is the one of the poorest, most dangerous US cities and also one of the “Top 9 Food Deserts”, according to the USDA. In 2013, the CCGC celebrates 29 Years of the Community Gardening Program, which is “perhaps the fastest growing in the US,” according to University of Pennsylvania study.  Today, CCGC has created and supports over 120 community gardens, 100 family gardens, and 12 school gardens.  The CCGC is helping more than 12% of Camden residents to eat fresh food from these gardens, producing an estimated $2.3 million in fresh produce each year, according to the report by University of Pennsylvania.

CCGC PROGRAMS ARE ASSISTING NJ SENIORS

With support from foundations like the NJ Foundation for Aging(NJFA), the CCGC has increased community gardening with seniors at Camden senior residence facilities.  CCGC and NJFA have also established a Senior Citizen Advisory Council for the Garden Club to improve services to encourage seniors to garden.  The Council has been operating successfully with 10 members, who represent various communities in the City of Camden.  Council members serve as teachers, mentors and guides to advance community gardens in Camden, addressing the particular needs of senior citizens and their families.  They provide the CCGC with advice on the needs of seniors and serve as mentors for those wishing to start-up new gardens and improve their gardening methods.

The CCGC Community Gardening Program is multi-generational and multi-ethnic.  It has a way of bringing together people of different racial, religious and ethnic backgrounds and having them work together to grow food for themselves, their families and neighbors.   The study by the University of Pennsylvania found that Camden gardens were remarkable for the amount of surplus that they produced and their generosity in sharing it with their neighbors.  These programs are especially helpful to Camden’s elderly as they often to not have access to transportation, are on a fixed income and because growing fresh foods is so important to a healthy active lifestyle.

GARDENING AT SENIOR HOUSING & GROWING FELLOWSHIP

Since its founding, senior citizens have always been a cherished part of the Garden Club.  Many of the members were older people who were interested in gardening since the time they were young children.  Garden Club senior gardeners include African Americans who grew up on farms in the South, some from Mexico, Puerto Rico and others who remember gardening with their parents and grandparents on small backyard gardens. 

Through support from the NJFA, the CCGC has been able to expand their services for seniors.  The Club supports large gardens at Northgate I and Northgate II, senior housing developments that accommodate over 50 gardeners.  There are several other community gardens throughout the City of Camden which are led by and cultivated by the CCGC’s active gardening senior.  Some outstanding gardens have been attributed to senior gardeners:  Paul Williams has an extensive garden – both have been focal points of their neighborhoods and a source of a surplus of healthy food.   The CCGC has supported the extensive community garden called the “Men’s Garden” because of the large number of senior men who garden there, as well as, their utilizing the outdoor space as a meeting place. 

INTERGENERATIONAL GARDENING & LEARNING

CCGC’s Community Gardening Program also offers opportunities for intergenerational learning.  Seniors have the opportunity to mentor the Camden teenagers who work as part of Youth Employment and Job Training Program,.  In addition, CCGC hosts AmeriCorps volunteers, young people who are part of the program CCGC hosts who come to volunteer in Camden, help seniors with some of their gardening work in return for learning from them about gardening, food and life.  Hundreds of Camden school children participate annually in the CCGC’s GrowLab Program.  Many of these children have community gardens in their neighborhoods at home, so they often teach their families and neighbors what they learned in school.  The seniors enjoy working and teaching the children what they know about gardening and preparing healthy meals also! 

SUPPLEMENTATION DELIVERED

To help supplement the food grown in the community gardens, the CCGC also operates a successful mini farm stand at the Camden Children’s Garden, which sells produce to seniors to supplement what they are able to grow themselves, with items like seasonal apples, blueberries, peaches and corn.  The Fresh Mobile Market will sell quality fresh vegetables and fruit at low prices.  Some of the produce will be grown at the CCGC’s Urban Farm on 3rd and Beckett Streets in Camden, NJ.  CCGC Board member and supporter, Duffield’s Farm in Sewell, NJ, will also supply produce.  In addition, the newly launched Fresh Mobile Market Program will bring fresh foods even closer to the homes of elderly residents, with a special focus on senior housing.  This program was launched May 2013 at a senior living facility Mickle Towers, along with the Fresh Mobile Partners, including the NJ Department of Agriculture, NJ 5th Legislative District, Camden County Freeholders, City of Camden Mayor, City of Camden Council, Duffield’s Farm, Holman Ford Lincoln, Walmart Corporation, Whole Foods Markets.  Also, the CCGC’s “Camden Grows”, the USDA Entrepreneurial Gardening Program, will enable Camden Community Gardeners to make a profit by selling their surplus of crops to the Mobile Market Program. 

POPULATION SERVED

The target population for the NJFA grants were low income senior citizens.  Throughout the year, CCGC estimates that at least 1,400 senior citizens (20% of CCGC’s 7,000 gardeners have been served).  CCGC has exceeded their goals for Senior Community Gardening and will continue to work with seniors as an integral part of the garden program. 

In conclusion, seniors are important leaders in the CCGC, providing inspiration and direction to gardeners of all ages throughout the city.  There is a great excitement about CCGC’s Community Gardening Program in Camden and senior citizens are an important reason for that.

To learn more about the Camden City Garden Club go to http://camdenchildrensgarden.org/about.html

 

 

NJFA’s Community Grant Program, Announcing 2 New Grantees!

Friday, January 15th, 2010

New Jersey Foundation for Aging Announces Two Grantees to increase services to NJ Elderly 

Trenton- The New Jersey Foundation for Aging (NJFA) is pleased to announce that grants have been awarded to two exceptional organizations in New Jersey, Greater Mercer TMA’s Travel Training Program and Camden City Garden Club.

The program at Greater Mercer TMA will provide training to seniors that will allow them to access public transportation. Transportation is a vital resource for older adults living in the community. Without access to transportation, seniors are unable to make medical appointments or maintain contact with the community, leading to poor health and isolation. In addition to getting to medical appointments, seniors often also need access to transportation for grocery shopping and social interaction. Through Travel Training, which will instruct seniors how to use public transportation, NJFA and Greater Mercer TMA hope to make a difference for seniors who find themselves without transportation. NJFA is proud to support a program that will be so beneficial to the senior population of Mercer County.

NJFA grant award to the Camden City Garden Club will help raise awareness about food insecurity among the aging population in New Jersey. Many residents in urban areas have little or no access to affordable, healthy food options. These urban areas also often have many vacant lots. NJFA hopes that by supporting the outreach efforts of the Camden City Garden Club some of these issues can be alleviated. The Camden City Garden Club will help seniors in the community to create gardens throughout the city of Camden, as well as educate them about growing and preparing healthy foods. Access to affordable and healthy food is key to aging well.

NJFA believes strongly in working toward making New Jersey a great place to age well and believes these two programs will help older adults do that. The Foundation is pleased to continue its Community Grant Program, through which $340,000 has been awarded over the past nine years, serving more than 25,000 NJ residents. NJFA congratulates this year’s grantees and wishes them much success with their programs.

NJFA releases an RFP once a year, we will be releasing the RFP again in June 2010. For more information please visit: http://www.njfoundationforaging.org/funding.html 

or contact us at 609-421-0206!