Launch Slideshow

A community works to create a garden

A community works to create a garden

  • The historic community of Shrewsbury Borough is home to the thriving Shrewsbury Community Garden.

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    The historic community of Shrewsbury Borough is home to the thriving Shrewsbury Community Garden.

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    Shrewsbury Department of Public Works

    The historic community of Shrewsbury Borough is home to the thriving Shrewsbury Community Garden.
  • There are 80 plots behind the 8-foot fence that keeps deer and burrowing rodents out of the space.

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    There are 80 plots behind the 8-foot fence that keeps deer and burrowing rodents out of the space.

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    Shrewsbury Department of Public Works

    There are 80 plots behind the 8-foot fence that keeps deer and burrowing rodents out of the space.
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    Shrewsbury Department of Public Works

  • The Shrewsbury Community Garden continues to be the envy of surrounding neighborhoods.

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    The Shrewsbury Community Garden continues to be the envy of surrounding neighborhoods.

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    Shrewsbury Department of Public Works

    The Shrewsbury Community Garden continues to be the envy of surrounding neighborhoods.
  • The city's public works department freely distributed mulch to the site from the DPW's own recycling site.

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    The city's public works department freely distributed mulch to the site from the DPW's own recycling site.

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    Shrewsbury Department of Public Works

    The city's public works department freely distributed mulch to the site from the DPW's own recycling site.
  • The DPW prepared the site for the community garden.

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    The DPW prepared the site for the community garden.

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    Shrewsbury Department of Public Works

    The DPW prepared the site for the community garden.
  • The DPW was in regular contact with the garden administration and always willing to lend assistance when needed.

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    The DPW was in regular contact with the garden administration and always willing to lend assistance when needed.

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    Shrewsbury Department of Public Works

    The DPW was in regular contact with the garden administration and always willing to lend assistance when needed.
  • With all plots assigned, the Shrewsbury Community Garden is flourishing for a third year in a row.

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    With all plots assigned, the Shrewsbury Community Garden is flourishing for a third year in a row.

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    Shrewsbury Department of Public Works

    With all plots assigned, the Shrewsbury Community Garden is flourishing for a third year in a row.
  • At least 30 families are already reaping what they've sown in the garden.

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    At least 30 families are already reaping what they've sown in the garden.

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    Shrewsbury Department of Public Works

    At least 30 families are already reaping what they've sown in the garden.
  • Shrewsbury, N.J. residents enjoy the benefits of a community garden.

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    Shrewsbury, N.J. residents enjoy the benefits of a community garden.

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    Shrewsbury Department of Public Works

    Shrewsbury, N.J. residents enjoy the benefits of a community garden.
  • Member fees of $25 annually help maintain and replace hoses and buy common garden tools.

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    Member fees of $25 annually help maintain and replace hoses and buy common garden tools.

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    Shrewsbury Department of Public Works

    Member fees of $25 annually help maintain and replace hoses and buy common garden tools.
  • Several public works employees grow vegetables for their own homes as well as the local food bank through Plant a row for the Hungry.

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    Several public works employees grow vegetables for their own homes as well as the local food bank through Plant a row for the Hungry.

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    Shrewsbury Department of Public Works

    Several public works employees grow vegetables for their own homes as well as the local food bank through Plant a row for the Hungry.

It’s been less than three years since Shrewsbury, N.J., residents requested a community garden, but at least 30 families are already reaping what they’ve sown. Public works would have been key to making this unique amenity possible, even if the 75x150-foot site wasn’t conveniently located next to the borough’s municipal complex.

In addition to advising on accessibility issues; traffic flow; and sun, wind, and drainage concerns, the department’s 13 employees provided the labor and oversaw others who helped.

They cleared the site and executed the design for 80 14x4-foot plots, including two that are raised so they’re handicapped-accessible. They created barrier-free walkways from the municipal complex parking lot, dug fence footings, laid sprinkler lines and hose bibs, oversaw construction of an 8-foot deer fence, and hauled mulch from the department’s recycling site. They helped Eagle Scouts build a secure storage shed for gardening equipment.

All of this without spending a penny of the taxpayer’s money. In fact, the department returned roughly $6,000 of the $21,000 in grants and seed money raised for the project.

Now that the Shrewsbury Community Garden is thriving, several public works employees grow vegetables for their own homes as well as the local food bank through Plant a Row for the Hungry, a Garden Writers Association public service program.

Residents pay $25 annually for a plot. These funds are used to maintain and replace hoses and buy common garden tools.

The garden continues to be the envy of surrounding communities.