Each year, the Bonner scholars complete service at the TCNJ campus garden. This site exists as a fully functioning, sustainable garden where Bonner students grow and harvest vegetables and fruits while maintaining all of the regular upkeep that a large garden would entail. The garden is supported hugely by the efforts of PC3. Everything the garden does s backed by them, and they provide the garden with many resources and support through everything. The garden aims to host even more PC3 supported events in this coming year! Weeding, watering, lawn mowing, harvesting, planting, thinning, and digging are all common activities in the garden and many more. Not only is this site a running garden, but it also acts as an educational site on sustainable agriculture for the campus and community, while spreading awareness about food insecurity in our area. The garden works directly with the Mercer Street Friends food bank to donate the food grown in the garden to residents of the Trenton/Mercer County area. Natalia DaSilva, one of the garden site leaders, reminds us of the garden’s goals and how they donate the food to “residents that are personally impacted by the realities of food insecurity.”
The garden has been under the care and maintenance of the two site leaders, Natalia DaSilva (sophomore) and Sebastian Czerwinski (sophomore) for some time now. Both of these Bonner students spent their summer interning at the Bonner Institute, devoting their time to the garden and food security initiatives. Some major accomplishments from the summer include:
• Approval for compost bins! These compost bins will be utilized in the garden as part of their
sustainable mission to decompose waste from the garden in a safe way. They will also be utilized by the garden team to educate visitors and volunteers about composting; the process, its effects, and benefits.
- Accomplished one full CEL day and three pre-college visit days! Bonner sites engage the campus community in many ways, including a CEL requirement where students participate in educational and engaging service at one of our many sites. This past summer, the garden was able to host a CEL day where students participated in garden maintenance, harvesting, and learning about the garden’s missions, impact of food insecurity in our area, and sustainable agriculture. They also hosted days for TCNJ’s Bonner Pre-College program to volunteer in the garden. This program runs over the summer and is for high school students from all over New Jersey to get a college experience at TCNJ before they enter college.
- Featured in the TCNJ magazine! The garden was featured in the college’s magazine, so keep an eye out for the print to read more about the garden and what the site leaders and volunteers were up to this summer!
As the year goes on and seasons change, the garden shifts its direction from planting and setting up garden to harvesting and planning community outreach days. The garden is always looking for volunteers and is open five days a week! Natalia and Sebastian are encouraging members from the TCNJ community to come and see what the garden is about. Just joining for an hour each week will help the garden tremendously and will also further its goals of educating the community. Each experience in the garden leaves you with gained knowledge and hands-on understanding of the cycle of food growth, environmental impacts of our actions, and the impact these all have on our local and global communities. The main goal for the fall semester at the garden is to grow the numbers of volunteers and people directly participating in the garden. As of right now, the team of Bonners involved in the site is growing! The garden team consists of … Alex Robb, Claire Paul, Allie Davanzo, Danielle Parks, Maureen Haque, Suada Demirovic, Raekwon Burton, and site leaders Natalia DaSilva and Sebastian Czerwinski. These bonners consistently lend a hand in the work at the garden, along with many others.
The garden just finished their most recent planting session of lettuce, kale, swiss chard, turnips, radishes, arugula, spinach, and beets. These vegetables, mostly planted from seed, will not start to show plants for a few weeks. Throughout the year the garden will implement multiple planting sessions to keep things growing as the seasons change. This year, the goal is to keep the garden open until the end of November 2017! You have a lot of time to engage in the garden this year, and the site leaders could use all the help they can get. They really believe in educating the community as well, and this is an opportunity for all parties to benefit. Not only are there a few months of garden activities to join in, but you can also look forward to the second Greenstock event this upcoming Spring 2018. This event, first hosted by the garden this past Spring 2017 semester, was sponsored by Bonner and PC3 to educate the community about gardening and environmental awareness. Hosted during earth week, tables were set up where clubs and organizations discussed environmental issues, sold eco art, planted flowers to be donated, hosted a food drive, and more. The goal is to make the second year even bigger!
Lastly, the site leaders would like to make a special shout out to all of the Bonners and students that came out for the “emergency” garden days! Some days weeds grow out of control depending on rainfall and climate, so more people may be needed to help the garden once in a while. They would like to thank Alex Robb, Amanda Julve, Aury Cifuentes, Madison Rowholt, Melissa Sandoval, and Victoria Guerra; along with everyone else who has participated in keeping the garden running and productive. The garden is hugely supported by PC3 initiatives, and the garden aims to create many more events around PC3 in the future. Please see the top of the article, or the photo underneath for garden hours, or follow the garden instagram (@tcnj.bonner.garden) for updates and photos! To read more about the garden, check out the site’s website:
The team hopes to see you there!