For the organizers of Common Grounds, few things could have made Sunday afternoon better. The weather was perfect for greeting the many visitors who came to attend the grand opening celebration and the garden green and full of early life.
After months of planning, logistical preparation and hard work, Common Grounds, Ocean County’s newest community garden officially opened.
A project of One Ocean County, non-profit started by frum community activists, serving Ocean County a community garden was the result of much brainstorming and research. With a vision of a diverse but mutually respectful Ocean County regional area where everyone feels connected and celebrated, creating a community garden where people of all backgrounds could visit and participate in was a perfect fit. And so the idea for Common Grounds was born.
Thanks to the help of a diverse and ambitious volunteers including the Rays of Hope group, a New Jersey nonprofit that encourages youth to participate in community service projects, as well as the input of many individuals from every town in Ocean County, the garden came together with many hours of hard work and dedication.
Thanks to the generosity of Lakewood Township and the cooperation fo the Public Works department, the garden came together easily. Located in John Patrick Sports Complex, Common Grounds is a 3,500 square foot community garden where fruit trees, vegetables, perennial plants and annual flowers are all growing together.
Corporate sponsors including Brookstone Management, Link Home Therapy, Spring Oak Management and Lakewood Residence helped cover the cost of the construction and fencing. Individual donors from throughout Ocean County were also crucial with a crowdfunding campaign that ran in April.
All this work came together on Sunday when people of all backgrounds joined for a grand opening celebration and a chance to see what had been built. Activities including decorating plant pots, river rock painting, and planting were enjoyed by all the children who attended. Refreshments were also provided with custom cookies marking the date (6.13 !) baked by volunteers. YTI (Young Talent Iniative) of Lakewood provided the musical entertainment for the afternoon while Mayor Coles spoke about the importance of this community garden and got to pick the first harvest of the season.
Visitors are welcome to come by the garden and watch the growth over the seasons as well as to sign up to become a volunteer to help the garden further develop. To learn more about getting involved, please email [email protected] or call (732) 503-8010.
[Press Release. Photos provided by Colin Lewis]