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From Jersey Greens to Houston Scenes
Phyllis and Bonney Represent NJ at ACGA national Community Gardening Conference

Bonney Parker and Phyllis Lindquist, two community garden leaders from New Jersey, traveled thousands of miles to ACGA’s national conference in Houston, Texas, last September.  It's a long way from Newark to the Texas plains, the land of longhorns and cowboy hats (see above), where gardeners grow cactus as a vegetable. Parker and Lindquist's biggest discovery was however not the differences but common ground. ACGA conferences are renowned for bringing gardeners together to network and share. Both say they are bringing home valuable lessons and fresh ideas for their community gardens.

“While there are differences in what can be grown in various climates around the states,” Parker said, “there are many similarities in how gardens and more importantly the folks who garden are managed.”

Bonney & Phyllis hats.jpg

Parker and Lindquist won scholarships to the conference provided by Duke Farms, a Center of the Doris Duke Foundation. Located on 2700 acres near Hillsborough, New Jersey, this agro-environmental non-profit provides “a place to connect with and care for Nature.” Duke Farm’s 460-plot community garden offers gardening spaces for area residents. 

Meghan Martin,  Duke Farm’s Community Garden Coordinator, notes that scholarships were awarded to local community garden leaders through a selective application process. Of particular significance were the benefits leaders felt they could bring back to share with their gardens after returning home.

Bonney Parker is active with the Wrangle Brook Community Garden, a social justice project of the Unitarian-Universalist Congregation of Ocean County, NJ, that opened in 2013.

“Gardening has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.” Parker says. “ Not only have I learned so much about plants and insects, watering, and harvesting, but I have been healed in body and soul.”

Phyllis Lindquist is with the Wagner Farms Arboretum and Gardens in Warren, NJ., where she serves as Garden Manager. Located on a former dairy farm purchased by the Warren Township in 2001, the project has donated over 100,000 pounds of organic produce to food insecure communities and created a Children’s Garden and a Welcome Garden. In her garden. “We work together to help and support each other,” Lindquist says.

Both are bringing back a wealth of ideas from the conference. 

 

Lindquist wants to share practical garden-oriented ideas, from improved irrigation to making use of environmentally friendly and repurposed materials in the garden. Parker will emphasize the organizational side, including communicating effectively and practicing the “Art of Neighboring”. She also hopes to work with schools and youth.

“From one workshop I learned about the value of having a youth coordinator who could organize young folks from a school or club to participate in the garden,” Parker says.

Lindquist and Parker are part of a larger initiative, the New Jersey Community Garden Leaders Network. Founded at Duke Farms in 2023, the network’s mission is the foster unity and strength among community garden leaders across the state. Duke Farms’ Martin, who also serves as Secretary on the Executive Board of the  American Community Gardening Association, invites interested community garden programs and gardeners to “join us in this exciting journey. Together, we’ll transform New Jersey’s garden landscape for the better.”

 

For more information, email cg@dukefarms.org, and visit the Duke Farms site at https://www.dukefarms.org/ Download the full story HERE:

Photos: Top: Bonney Parker (left) and Phyllis Lindquist at ACGA 2023 Conference in Houston, Texas. Right column: Top: Bonney Parker; Middle: Phyllis Lindquist; Bottom: Meghan Martin. Left: The New Jersey Community Garden Leaders Network. Photos courtesy ACGA and Duke Farms.

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