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TCNJ’s Campus Garden harvests a bounty for local food pantries

Circling around Metzger Drive, you’ll notice a small fenced-in plot, tucked neatly in a clearing toward the back of campus.

Meet TCNJ Campus Garden, one of several ways students, faculty, and other volunteers are helping to fight food insecurity in the Trenton and Ewing communities. The Presidents’ Climate Commitment Committee and the TCNJ Bonner Institute for Civic and Community Engagement started it in 2010.

Volunteers harvested 117 pounds of produce this season. Crops included sweet potatoes, green beans, eggplant, celery, tomatoes, tomatillos, spinach, peppers, okra, kale, turnips, lettuce, carrots and radishes.

“I think that one of the most powerful things you can do is have control over what you put into your body, and I am able to experience this by growing food that is donated to individuals who do not have consistent and affordable access to healthy foods,” said Danielle Parks ’19, a philosophy major and the garden’s site leader.

The produce is donated mostly to the Mercer Street Friends Food Bank, which channels food and groceries to a network of 80 local food pantries, shelters, soup kitchens, meal sites, schools, senior and disabled programs, and low-income housing sites in the area.

“No one deserves to go hungry, especially with the amount of food and waste that our society produces,” Parks said. “I also believe that everyone deserves to eat with dignity, and I hope that through my service I am able to provide individuals with that opportunity.”

Parks coordinated the garden team of 10 Bonner Community Scholars, with another six Bonner volunteers and Community Scholars. Tasks included watering the garden, weeding, overturning and tilling the soil, planting, pest control, harvesting and donating produce, and composting, Parks said.

The garden recently finished up this season, but volunteers will be back next year to cultivate and harvest another fruitful bounty.

Connor Smith ’18