Here at City Green, we believe that all members of our community should have access to safe, beautiful gardens and green spaces. Together with the Passaic County Board of Chosen Commissioners, our Community Horticulture team brings this mission to life through our “Dig In!” program. Dig In! is a grant program that supports vibrant community gardens and greening initiatives across Passaic County for the production of healthy food, neighborhood beautification, and community enhancement. Community groups, organizations, and municipalities are eligible to apply for these Dig In! grants to receive funding, educational workshops, technical assistance, and materials and resources for the successful establishment of these sustainable garden projects.
The Dig In! program administers two grants to bring this mission to life: The Community Garden Grant and the Tree and Bulb Grant. Since 2014, 239 grants have been distributed to start community gardens and beautify public green spaces in Passaic County. The Community Garden Grant program has started 80 community gardens across Passaic County and continues to ensure our neighbors can grow healthy food and build stronger communities.
In 2022, 9 grants were awarded to community partners that include Shomrei Torah Community Garden, Grace United Presbyterian Church, Bloomingdale Community Garden, Park Hill Association, Saint Peter’s Haven, Oasis, Passaic Neighborhood Center for Women, and Camp YDP. These partners are all receiving items selected from a garden menu that include compost and mulch deliveries, new raised beds, picnic tables, fencing, tools, signage, perennial flower kits, and seeds and seedlings.
Oasis, a nonprofit organization empowering women and children located in Paterson, is a longtime partner of City Green and a 2023 Community Garden Grant recipient. Oasis has a rooftop garden of 15 flower and vegetable garden planters that is maintained by dedicated staff members, volunteers, clients, and students. Oasis plans to grow vegetables and herbs in their garden to provide fresh produce for their soup kitchen. In 2022, the kitchen incorporated green beans, tomatoes, lettuce, swiss chard, basil, mint, and other vegetables and herbs grown at the garden into meals for the community. Each year over 61,000 meals are provided to women and children that visit the Oasis soup kitchen, and by incorporating these veggies and herbs into their kitchen, women and children are able to enjoy a delicious meal with produce grown in their own neighborhood.
In addition to serving their soup kitchen, the garden serves and is maintained by women that participate in Oasis programs like their domestic violence survivor’s group “Surviving to Striving.” Each year, women in the program plant flowers and herbs throughout the garden and maintain the plants all summer. Children that participate in their After-School Academy also use the garden for their program and help plant and harvest spring and summer veggies.
Through the Community Garden Grant, Oasis is receiving a compost delivery to provide fresh soil for their 4 raised garden beds and a native perennial flower kit to beautify their outdoor space. By renovating their garden space, Oasis can continue to provide their essential programming for community members while offering them a safe, beautiful space to spend time in nature.
Want to learn more about City Green’s Dig In! community garden grant program? Follow us on Instagram for regular gardening updates! If you have any questions for our Community Horticulture team, leave a comment down below and we’ll be happy to get back to you!
City Green is a 501(c)3 urban farming and gardening organization based in Clifton, New Jersey working to foster connections between communities, agriculture, and the environment. For more information about City Green, visit www.citygreenonline.org.