Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Cape May County’s Master Gardeners are making a difference in Cape May County by helping to make fresh vegetables available to those in need. Rutgers Master Gardeners planted over 1,600 plants in June at the “People’s Garden” located on the grounds of the US Department of Agriculture Plant Material Center, Natural Resources Conservation Service, 1536 Route 9, Cape May Court House, NJ.
Jerry McManus, Rutgers Master Gardener and Coordinator of the “People’s Garden”, said, “Cape May County’s Rutgers Master Gardeners are happy to put their expertise and passion to use and plant a variety of vegetables in the garden, especially knowing that everything planted in the garden is helping residents less fortunate in the County.”
All of the fresh vegetables grown in the garden are being donated to food pantries in Cape May County this summer. The food pantries that are benefiting from the “People’s Garden” are St. Casimir Church in Woodbine, Branches in Rio Grande and the Dennisville Methodist Church. There is minimal cost to operate the “People’s Garden”, since the seed planted came from last year’s plants and all of the planting and follow-up work is done by volunteers.
Last year, volunteers planted 200 plants that yielded nearly 160 pounds of vegetables which were also donated to food pantries. With the more than 1,600 plants planted, volunteers are hoping to donate much more to pantries this year. The vegetables planted include: two types of tomatoes, parsley, zucchini, bush beans and 5 different types of peppers. The non-profit organizations that receive the vegetables from the garden, help to maintain the garden by weeding and harvesting the vegetables. Volunteers, from the organizations, come to the farm and pick their own vegetables which are weighed as they leave.
McManus added, “It is wonderful to see how dedicated the Rutgers Master Gardeners are to this project. Rutgers Master Gardeners volunteer throughout the year in Cape May County giving back to the community.”
Rutgers Master Gardeners are trained volunteers who assist Rutgers Cooperative Extension in providing horticultural programs and information to the public. All Rutgers Master Gardeners (RMGs) receive in-depth, hands-on training in a variety of horticultural topics from Rutgers faculty and staff. Once trained, RMGs volunteer their time to educate the public through outreach programs, horticultural therapy, community gardens as well as answering questions that come in to the county's free Horticultural Helpline.
Some of the other programs currently being given by Cape May County RMGs are horticultural therapy in nursing homes; working with children at the Special Services Schools; giving lectures and workshops to garden clubs and other public groups; providing informational tables at public events, such as the 4H Fair.
Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Cape May County helps both youth and adults improve their knowledge and skills, enhance their quality of life, and resolve problems in areas of food, nutrition, health and wellness; food safety; agriculture; environmental and natural resource management; and youth development. This is accomplished through the use of science-based knowledge and university research. Rutgers Cooperative Extension is an education organization within the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey and is an equal opportunity program provider and employer.
Rutgers Cooperative Extension’s education programs are offered to all without regard to race, religion, color, age, national origin, gender, sexual orientation or disability.
Photo: Volunteers at the “People’s Garden”: Rutgers Master Gardeners Sheryl Coleman, CMCH, Leslie Dagon, Israel, Rutgers Master Gardeners Karyl Palmer, North Wildwood, Jerry McManus, Dennisville, Brenda Church, Villas and Barbara Douglass, West Cape May