save the camden children’s garden: an oasis of green in a nj food desert

One day it’s a flowering oasis, full of fun activities and laughing children and their families. The next day, it’s a bulldozed parking lot. With echoes of memories. If the State of New Jersey has its way, the Camden Children’s Garden, a “horticultural playground” since 1999, will be no more.

Camden Children's Garden
Exhibit at 2012 Philadelphia Flower Show

Though we have visited many of the major gardens, refuges, and parks in our area, we haven’t had the pleasure of visiting the Camden Children’s Garden located next to Adventure Acquarium right across the river from Philly. Last year, my kids and I had a chance to meet the folks from the Camden Children’s Garden at the 2012 Philadelphia Flower Show. Their fun exhibit delighted my youngest 2 children who keep asking to see the garden in person.

Located on 4.5 acres, the Camden Children’s Garden’s reach extends well beyond its grounds. In a city with one supermarket (and one of the food desserts ), 12% of the Camden population receive produce from the garden through the Community Garden program. The Garden just received a grant to launch a mobile food market program to bring more fresh produce to Camden residents.

Camden Children's Garden
Exhibit at 2012 Philadelphia Flower Show

With obesity on the rise among our children, the CCG is actively working with the next generation to help them make healthy choices. Through the GrowLab, the Garden serves 360 students in approximately 20 classes. The School Garden Program serves 4,500 students in 12 gardens, educating Camden children (Pre K-7th grade) in environmental science, nutrition and sustainability through hands-on horticultural lessons. In 2012, the Camden Children’s Garden was featured in First Lady Obama’s book, American Grown.

Children needs hands-on experiences with nature. They need to touch a tomato growing on a plant. They need to water a plant every day and watch it grow from seed. Children in large cities need access to fresh fruits and vegetables, especially poor children. These fresh fruits and vegetables feed their growing bodies, nourishing their minds, and nurture our future.

Further Reading

Op Ed piece on
PHS Article about the Camden Children’s Garden at the 2012 Flower Show
U.S. Department of Education Grants to Expand Camden’s School/Community Gardens and Nutrition Education

Meet Barb

Barb Hoyer has written 4283 posts.

After working in the fundraising world for over ten years, Barb is an avid runner, writer, photographer, parent volunteer, and lover of dictionaries and thesauruses. Wife to an engineer and mom to 5 kids, Barb lives in the suburbs of Philly. Her idea of relaxation is an afternoon on the couch with a stack of books.

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  1. April @ The 21st Century Housewife says

    It would be so sad to see something so wonderful disappear. We need more child-friendly gardens, not less of them! It’s an excellent idea to use your blog to help create awareness and save the Camden Children’s Garden.
    April @ The 21st Century Housewife recently posted..Planning and Enjoying a Healthy Pregnancy

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