Published August 23, 2012
By: Peter Sclanfani, Packet Media Group
Hillsborough, NJ -- Vick Roskowski looks over the green leafy plants of his garden before dropping to his knees, throwing his tools to the side and plunging his hands into the soil to pull up weed after weed.
”There is nothing quite like reconnecting with nature,” he said.
Mr. Roskowski, of Manville, is one of a number of people from all walks of life — including doctors, small-business owners, teachers and insurance sales representatives — who have formed a tight-knit community while planting, weeding and harvesting their own plots in the second year of a large, fenced garden run at Duke Farms.
They are among the more than 800 people who have been going for the green in the community garden this year.
Duke Farms, which opened most of its 2,700 acres to visitation by the public, free of charge, this May, boasts the largest community garden in the region, according to Duke Farms Programs Director Nora Wagner.
More than 400 plots are available for anybody in the community who wants to try their hand at gardening. Having a green thumb is not a requirement.
According to Ms. Wagner, about 500 people applied for a plot in the garden this year. However, she said she expects to have more people apply for next season’s garden now that a fuller range of Duke Farms has opened to the public.
Plots range from $10 for 10 feet by 10 feet to $30 for a 15-foot by 30-foot plot.
”We want to give the opportunity to enter the garden world to whoever has the desire to do it,” Ms. Wagner, said.
She estimates 60 percent of the 800 gardeners there had never gardened before.
”It’s the greatest thing,” said gardener Kristen Brickner, who sells insurance for a vocation. “You get to meet new people and learn new things.”
For many people, like Ms. Brickner, who live in townhouses or apartments, the Duke Farms community garden provides a place to practice their hobby.
Everything from lettuce to watermelons can be found in the garden, and some of the gardeners have even planted seeds from their native homes in India and Pakistan.