Paper Title: Community or Disunity Garden?: Skepticism of Affluent Rural Suburbia Preservation in the Garden State
by Gabriella Gambino
Author Biography: My name is Gabriella Gambino (she/her/hers), a senior Biology student at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and a bisexual, biracial, bystander of the environmental injustices of my small town, Mount Olive, New Jersey. If you have made it to this page, you will be seeing my work regarding the Community Garden and South Branch Preserve of Mount Olive. I felt it was necessary to discuss the ongoing, deafening silence of injustice in my farm-town because like Mount Olive, New Jersey and much of the United States, there are ongoing power struggles between racial inequalities and socioeconomic status that ultimately inhibit our fight for equity for all.
Project Site Description: The Community Garden of the South Branch Preserve lies on Wolfe Road in Hackettstown, New Jersey and is an extension of the Raritan River’s North Branch located in Mendham Borough. Having been erected in 2010, the preserve and the community garden have little chronological history, although the Mount Olive region has a vast timeline, dating back to the late 1700s. Mount Olive is known historically for being the home to many white families and the town of Budd Lake, where the Community Garden is placed, is historically known as a beach town, named for John Budd, the man who discovered New Jersey’s largest natural lake. Where the Community Garden is added environmentally-preserving farmland, the injustice takes place where the small percentage of minority populations within the town are never seen. Could that be because of the cost of living and the cost of being a member in the garden? Could it be the systemic racism that has plundered the town and being uncomfortable as a half minority myself? Could it be a combination of socioeconomic status and racial inequality that has concocted itself as the perfect exclusion to minorities using the garden?
I’m here to identify, explore, discuss and proclaim that it is, in combination with a few other factors. Afterall, the Community Garden of Mount Olive, New Jersey is only home to one of very many injustices leading and propagating our current culture meltdown in the United States. Where we can connect to one issue, we can connect to another and connect the issues together; That is how we enact necessary changes to end environmental injustice once and for all.
Keywords: Community Food Class African-American Asian-American