Students Love The Garden Club at JJC
A Community Garden is Growing with the Help of Students, Staff and Parents
Posted on 05/20/2013

If you have taken a ride by JJ Catena or DD Eisenhower lately, you may have noticed the building of a Community Garden, an exciting project that has our students, teachers, and community members excited about growing vegetables, attracting beautiful butterflies and learning about cooking what you grow in the garden. The initiative is funded through the State of NJ mini-grant program provided through ShapingNJ, a state partnership for nutrition, physical activity and obesity prevention. The goal of this partnership is to prevent obesity and improve the health of populations that are at risk for poor health outcomes in New Jersey by making "the healthy choice, the easy choice." 

In 2012, CentraState Health Awareness Center, a community partner member of the JJ Catena CATENA STRONG Wellness Council, invited three communities to be included and build community gardens. In February 2013, the group was awarded the $7,700 grant! CATENA STRONG Wellness Council, with the help of Heidi Toth, JJC's school nurse, began planning the garden build, garden club, educational assemblies and harvesting schedule. Thus far, students have planted baby lettuce, beets, spinach, basil, rosemary, chives, parsley and rosemary. The kindergartners have planted butterfly bushes and marigolds, and the first graders are making plans for potatoes to harvest in the Fall. In addition, the CATENA STRONG Garden Club has over 60 children enrolled and 15 parent volunteers meeting every Wednesday to learn about gardening and healthy eating. Plans for next year include working with Eisenhower Eats program and the Eisenhower Garden Club to facilitate learning across schools - exciting times in our Eisenhower and Catena communities. A big thank you to our community partners who have helped with this project: CentraState Health Awareness Center and Family & Community Health Sciences of Rutgers Cooperative Extension & the Master Gardeners.