Primary Source Report-GG

Community or Disunity Garden?: Skepticism of Affluent Rural Suburbia Preservation in the Garden State

by Gabriella Gambino

  1. Township Council Minutes: Reorganization Meeting, Colleen Labow (Council President), January 2, 2013.

online publicly-documented meeting minutes for the residents of Mount Olive, New Jersey.

This source has brief, but valuable information regarding funding to my chosen site, shortly after it was instituted in the township of Mount Olive.

In this source, Councilmen and women of a meeting held on January 2, 2013 discussed issues and resolutions of and for the town. Almost halfway into the meeting minutes, a grant of $57,000, known as the Community Block Grant, is considered and allotted to improve drainage to the nearby Budd Lake. Additionally, it can be noted that 57 extra acres of land was acquired in the South Branch Preserve. After many proposals beginning in the late 1990s, the town had finally made a decision, with additional information mentioned in my second primary source. This source suggests that environmentally-encouraging projects became a trending wellspring of positive feedback into the community.

Although the resolution for the community garden is only mentioned succinctly, the message was clear. ““In 2012, the Grant’s Coordinator efforts included, the sale of Charters Farm, the installation of a community garden, the receipt of a $57,000 Community Block Grant to improve drainage in Budd Lake, restoration of the old Baptist Church has begun with additional phases expected as grants become available, as well as the purchase of 57 acre undeveloped BASF tract by the Township for future resale and/or development.” This claim was made by Mayor Rob Greenbaum and was recorded by Council President, Colleen Labow.

  1. Township Council Minutes, David Scapicchio (Council President), April 9, 2002. 

online publicly-documented meeting minutes for the residents of Mount Olive, New Jersey.

This source has extensive firsthand information about the introduction of a community garden in Mount Olive. The mention of the community garden begins with dialogue of three female students, from the neighboring middle school community, who hope to establish a community garden in an environmentally educational and contributional strategy.

Midway into the meeting minutes source, Council President Scapicchio introduces Mrs. Ryan McCrea, who works as an environmental science teacher for Mount Olive Middle School. Students handed pamphlets to each council member in attendance following a debate from the Mount Olive Middle School Environmental Planning Team over the institution of a community garden. This source suggests the initial progressions made of the time that led to the current status of the Community Garden.

This is vital to my site project because it is yet another perspective. This source contains a different perspective to the cause and that is the younger generation of students within the community. Some of the first words Mrs. McCrea declared were,

“Three female students came up to me in June of last year and said Mrs. McCrea, for our community service project we would love to do something that has to do with something outside and an environment and some kind of area. That is where this began. It has taken shape, we have made proposals both to the Board of Education and to our Principal. We have their support. They have been wonderful. The students have worked very hard on these presentations and it is my pleasure to turn it over to them.”

This reflects a positive mission statement of the land institution and is inclusive to all students who want to share in the garden’s journey. Councilman Robert Cramer followed with,

“The Mount Olive Middle School Environmental Planning Team seeks to create a community garden designed to provide long term esthetic value for a long life learning opportunity for an increasingly diverse and growing community. The idea for the community garden and environmental education center was initiated by students and the intent of the planning team is to see this project executed and maintained by the students with support from facility and community members.”

Subsequently, the positive feedback reel is enough to establish the project as up-and-coming. Mrs. McCrea concludes with,

“Creating a community garden such as the one outlined in this presentation goes beyond a need for site improvement and beautification. It provides a relevant and meaningful opportunity to strengthen environmental awareness and to model citizenship through service. Our students here at the Middle School have through the planning process already gained valuable life skills in networking and finances, time management, in perseverance and in critical thinking. As this project continues, the students will strengthen their leadership skills as they recruit volunteers, gather support, interact with the community, the school and with local businesses and train new student leaders to help manage the gardens. The community will enjoy a place to visit for organization sponsored programs, group gathering, educational opportunities as well as for leisure activities such as reading, planting, sketching and wildlife observation.”

  1. Mount Olive Online Today – Garden Plots Open at Community Garden, Cheryl Conway (Mount Olive resident and journalist), February 24, 2020.

Online township publication newsletter for the residents of Mount Olive, New Jersey

This source is an online newsletter of local news and ongoing events in the town community. While it covers a broad range of topics, it does mention the more recent standing of the community garden, which is useful for my project because it accesses key information regarding standard expectations for the garden that isn’t previously listed in other sources. 

In this source, author Cheryl Conway mentions information about the garden to potential new farmers within the town. Although not a direct article based around interviewed pieces, Conway is to-the-point with information and includes a quote directly from the garden manager, not seen in other publications. The author also identifies the necessary background information on the site, some overlapping with other secondary sources but also information from an environmentalist’s standpoint.

:“The camaraderie and friendships among the gardeners has been amazing, and the gardeners donated over 350 lbs. of excess produce in 2019,” said Barbara McCloskey, garden manager and Membership & Outreach manager for the Land Conservancy.” I find it valuable to have the perspective of the garden manager in my project and now know who to go to directly at the site over a representative of the Land Conservancy of New Jersey.

“The garden is surrounded by fencing, to keep out deer and rodents, including rabbits and groundhogs. A shed is located onsite, which houses some gardening supplies.  Gardeners are encouraged to bring their own gardening tools.  Water is provided by The Land Conservancy by individual spigots and hoses throughout the garden. Only organic gardening practices are allowed at the Preserve.” Despite the fact that some of this information provided by Conway overlaps with other sources, the inclusion of graphic imagery of how the land is being preserved and protected is important when factoring the annual costs and how that invites environmentalism but also invites socioeconomic elements of residents to the equation as of more current times, compared to the other two primary sources.


These are my live primary sources, however I am still seeking and filtering through other alternatives or possibilities to incorporate into my project.