Since relocating to our beautiful, 5-acre campus in Newton, Project Self-Sufficiency has prudently used the abundant natural resources available on the site, creating nine community gardens with 52 raised beds and placing hundreds of potted tomato and cucumber plants along the walkways every summer. Volunteer gardeners cultivate and maintain the gardens which provide hundreds of pounds of fresh vegetables to low-income children and families during the growing season. Clients receive the produce when they visit the campus or agency staff transport the food on board a refrigerated van, aptly named, “The Food Project, Nourishing our Neighbors,” to those without transportation.
The garden project began with the vision of longtime Project Self-Sufficiency supporter Frances Gould Naftal who saw an opportunity to help families without access to wholesome food. From that one idea sprouted a project which now involves a team of expert volunteer gardeners, aided by hundreds of local high school students, as well as group of disabled adults, who work together to provide fresh food for those in need. The gardens use sustainable methods and source seedlings and materials from local providers whenever possible.
The gardens are a tool for instruction about proper nutrition as well as a source of food. Volunteer gardeners instruct children about the importance of good nutrition by using a special plot located behind the Little Sprouts Early Learning Center. There children help with the planting, watering, cultivating, and harvesting of vegetables which they then bring home to their parents and families, along with recipes and information about proper dietary choices.
Hunger is a problem impacting hundreds of families in the area served by Project Self-Sufficiency. Those who are hungry cannot envision a life where they can get an education, work at a meaningful job, and provide a stable home for their families. The gardens allow the agency to help sustain children and families while they access the many programs and services provided by the agency to help lift them out of poverty and travel on the road to a better life. With the support of Project Self-Sufficiency, high school drop outs obtain their diplomas, adults who have been out of the workforce enhance their skills and get employment, those who need legal assistance or housing can get the help they need, and children can receive high quality care and attend preschool in a safe, nurturing environment.
At Project Self-Sufficiency our goal is to embrace opportunities, empower and educate the individuals we serve, and help them achieve meaningful employment and ultimately end the cycle of poverty. The contributions made by our dedicated volunteer gardeners towards that goal are immeasurable. To volunteer as a gardener, apply online or call 973-940-3500 or 844-807-3500.
Project Self-Sufficiency benefactor Frances Gould Naftal envisioned a set of community gardens which would provide nourishing food for low-income children and families.
Project Self-Sufficiency won a blue ribbon at the New Jersey State Fair in Sussex County, New Jersey.
Project Self-Sufficiency gardens are maintained by a dedicated group of talented volunteers.