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Fort Lee Awarded $20,000 Grant For Community Garden

Fort Lee has been awarded money to open a garden in the green space south of the Charlton condominium complex on 15th Street.
Fort Lee has been awarded money to open a garden in the green space south of the Charlton condominium complex on 15th Street. Photo Credit: Facebook

FORT LEE, N.J. — Less than a year after opening its first community garden, the borough has been awarded $20,000 to open a second garden in the green space south of the Charlton condominium complex on 15th Street.

The first garden, on Stillwell Avenue next to the dog park, is equipped with a dozen above-ground planters with enough plots to accommodate about 20 gardeners or groups of gardeners. A portion of the space is handicap accessible, and there’s a shaded sitting area. It was financed with a grant from Sustainable Jersey, a non-profit that provides training and financial resources to communities to promote green living.

"I tell you, it was just fabulous," Council President Ila Kasofsky, who led the effort to install the garden, said about its first year in existence. People grew a variety of vegetables, spices and "sunflowers that were about 6 feet high."

Many of those interested in participating were disappointed, however, as applications exceeded available plots by 3-to-1 last year, Kasofsky said. "I’ll let the first gardeners stay, and I’ll build a second one for people who didn’t get a spot," Kasofsky said she recalled thinking when the garden opened.

The second garden is expected to open by the end of the summer, Kasofsky said, and interested planters can pick up applications for a plot either at Borough Hall or the Department of Public Works.

"It’s hard to find the space" for gardening in a community with about 37,000 people in 2 1/2 square miles, she said, "but the demand is high."

Sustainable Jersey launched in 2009. More than three-quarters of the state’s 565 municipalities participate in its activities, and 193 towns have achieved Sustainable Jersey certification, according to the organization’s website. A similar program for schools started in 2014. Already, 163 school districts are participating.

A total of $200,000 in grants, funded by the PSEG Foundation, were given out to 32 municipalities that proposed a variety of projects, ranging from expanding a farmers’ market to completing a digitized tree inventory. Other grant winners in the area were Bergenfield and Hawthorne, each of which received $2,000.

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