A Community Farm with SWAG!

DSC_0586 April 22nd was Earth Day, and I got to do something very different and karmically good in honor of our lovely planet. The huz and I hung out with some oh so down to earth (pun intended) folks and kiddies at an urban farm in Newark, NJ. I know you’re probably thinking, “Newark, NJ?”… and YES: Newark, NJ! After all,

New Jersey is the Garden State! Urban farming and gardening though,  is something that is growing increasingly, albeit, slowly popular. Especially in neighborhoods that don’t have a lot of shared outdoor space. Enter the SWAG project.

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Beautiful mural and corner view of the SWAG farm…

What is the SWAG project you ask? The SWAG Project is an “Urban Farm, Food Justice and Community Building project in the South Ward of Newark”. That’s definitely a mouthful! But well worth it since it is a transformative community initiative dedicated to food and education that uplifts the community by providing different opportunities for growth. While there, we got to see first hand the kind of awesome things they are offering the community, and it definitely brought a smile to both of our faces.

The farm is on a corner lot of land with an old church that now serves as a community center. Outside there are plant boxes for all the different types of produce that will be planted there this spring. There is even a huge compost pile that is used to fertilize the soil for the upcoming planting season. And it is all done side by side by the SWAG Team and members of the community.

DSC_0703 DSC_0696 DSC_0661 I participated that day by volunteering my time and sharing a recipe for an awesome seasonal dish, Apple Leek Pecan Slaw. I prepped the food live on site, food demo style and handed out samples for the kids and adults to try. I was actually happy and surprised at the reaction of the kids: they all liked the dish and some even came back for seconds! Oh and I also had a decadent, delicious gluten free turtle chocolate pie made by a local volunteer and all I can say is… It. Was. GOOD! Really good. I actually had to stop myself from having seconds.

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Me & Cameron “Cam” Lyon… a lovely volunteer & one of the most awesome teenagers EVER!

No, we didn’t plan the matching hats. We are just both very stylish, LOL.

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Composting 101… SWAG style!

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Local harvest themed artwork for sale.

DSC_0609 Giving people the chance to grow their own food establishes a sense of pride and connection. It helps to make the community better and is pretty damn cool, if I do say so myself! There was no planting this day however, since it was the first day of the reopening of the farm to the public. And although nothing was actually sprouted except a few herbs, a good time was had by all, thanks to the food sharing, arts and crafts and dance classes at the adjacent community center. I must admit, seeing the kids learn about agriculture and just having a shared space in their community to do it in, really made me have a moment of sheer gratitude. My heart was full that day thanks to this adventure. But then again, what more would you expect from a farm with  so much SWAG??? ;-)

The woman behind the SWAG, Alexandra Payne.

The woman behind the SWAG, Alexandra Payne.

DSC_0597 DSC_0585 DSC_0583 Oh and one last thing, I’d like to give a super special thank you shout out to the two ladies that helped make this visit possible: Cameron Lyon & Alexandra Payne. Thanks so much ladies for all your hard work, dedication and positivity. You are definitely appreciated. Looking forward to coming back again soon!

Urban Farmers with SWAG: me, Alexandra & Cam

Urban Farmers with SWAG: me, Alexandra & Cam

Little hands planting, last season.

Little hands planting, last season.

 

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