More GREEN in Mt. Laurel

The Green Team is in action in Mt. Laurel.

Between the community gardens and Arbor Day celebrations in late April, Mt. Laurel residents have been doing their part to bring the community closer and to beautify the town.

According to township manager Maureen Mitchell, “There are a handful of lots available for rental” in the community gardens. Interested parties should contact her office.

Deputy Mayor Linda Bobo said the community garden was an idea the council discussed for some time.

“It wasn’t until the county announced a grant initiative for our community park and recreation program that the garden plan became more concrete,” Bobo said.

The Green Team was created in 2010, according to Bobo.

About 50 people came out for the opening of the gardens and to begin planting their crops on Saturday, April 21.

“We had a great crowd,” she said.

Half of all housing in Mt. Laurel is multi-unit, she said. Residents would otherwise be unable to garden.

“It also provides a sense of community,” she said, where people can meet their neighbors and chat about a common interest.

Any produce developed on the lands at Blue Hills Farm is the renters’ to keep.

“People are growing a whole variety of things – fruits and vegetables,” Bobo said.

If items are not up to residents’ standards, they will be able to donate the fruits or veggies to Paws Farm to feed to animals, she said.

“There are policies in terms of your garden,” she said.

Corn should not be planted to avoid garden pests and shadows on other plots. Smoking and drinking alcohol on site is prohibited. Chemically treated wood is not allowed. A full list of 20 rules plus other necessary information can be acquired from the manager’s office.

Plots come in multiple sizes for rental.

A full plot, 20 feet by 20 feet, is priced at $40. Half a plot, 20 feet by 10 feet is $20. A quarter plot, 10 feet by 10 feet, is $10, according to green team documents.

Of course, gardening is not the only ecological phenomenon hitting Mt. Laurel.

Mt. Laurel Green Team member and town resident Sandra Carleton said Arbor Day celebrations on Saturday, April 28 had a good turn out.

“We got everything done,” she said, referencing the needs of the 125 saplings that were given to the team from the New Jersey Tree Foundation.

“We didn’t plant them all that day,” she said. “But we planted the majority of them.”

Youngsters were out to support their community that day, too, she said.

“They seemed to really enjoy planting the trees,” said Carleton.

Between 25 and 30 people came to help plant trees, she said.

Fifty of the trees were given to Mt. Laurel Schools for their Arbor Day festivities, she said.

The team planted them at Blue Hills Farm, Trotter’s Field, and Laurel Acres Park, she said.

“It went pretty smoothly,” she said.

She hopes the trees will survive, as some were tiny.

The tree planters have given commitments to water the trees and make sure they grow without issues, she said.

“We’re hoping that it’s going to beautify Mt. Laurel,” she said. “Trees are just a very good thing for the environment.”

“As far as I’m concerned, you can’t have too many trees,” she said.

In another venture, the Green Team is currently “green mapping” in the township to pinpoint all the different areas that are green-related.

For residents who are contemplating whether or not to rent a plot, Carleton pointed out: “there’s still plenty of time to start planting.”

Look for more details soon on an upcoming rain barrel making demonstration event by the Green Team.

For more information on Green Team initiatives, contact the township at (856) 234-0001 or email Blue Hills Farm, the location of the community gardens, is located at 1256 Hainesport-Mt. Laurel Road, Mt. Laurel.