HOPATCONG – The borough Community Garden group is getting ready for the growing season even if Old Man Winter is not yet ready to relinquish his hold on Northern New Jersey. Members have already had a seed swap, trading packets of seed back and forth, and are ready to get their hands dirty.
The garden, located just behind the skate park in the center of town, has all of its 46 plots rented out to local residents and according to Jennifer Barone, HCG president, about 12 names remain on a waiting list.

Jennifer Barone, president of the Hopatcong Community Garden, stands among the lush plots of vegetables last summer.
Jennifer Barone, president of the Hopatcong Community Garden, stands among the lush plots of vegetables last summer.

“We had six members relinquish their plots at the end of last year and we had six new members quickly fill those openings. This waiting list could potentially turn into a two year waiting period for a plot,” said Barone. “But we encourage people to join the list as you never know.”
One of the successes from 2013, said Barone, was the Helping Hands plot. With help from local scouts and teen volunteers, the plot produced more than 165 pounds of fresh organic produce that was distributed to four local organizations including the Hopatcong Senior Center, Christian Fellowship Church in Franklin Twp., St. Michael’s in Netcong, and the Denville Food Pantry. The goal this year is to add to that total by expanding the Helping Hands plot or adding container gardening. Barone said she is looking for volunteers to help.
“Some kids come once a week, some more that that and some less,” she said.
In the fall of last year local Daisy Scouts planted more than 100 organic tulip bulbs and 50 organic daffodil bulbs using tools donated by Hopatcong resident Yvonne Q. Syto of NutritionMap. The hope is to attract bees, birds, bats, hummingbirds, butterflies and moths, said Barone.
“We are really excited to not only see them bloom soon but we’re trying to establish more flowers to help attract pollinators to the garden,” she said.
The organization has plans to clean up an area that faces the skate park, located just outside the garden fence. It is an area covered with wild bushes, weeds and rocks, and is “really hard to maintain,” said Barone. Once cleared, the plan, she said, is to add some fill and plant wildflowers to attract pollinators. The group is looking for donations to help offset the cost of this project, including manpower, fill dirt and machinery. And, at the Lake Hopatcong Foundation’s Block Party on Saturday, May 10, the group will be having an Adopt a Ladybug fundraising event, which will also help defray the cost.
The group is also looking for someone to help cut down and trim trees around the garden.
“There are some trees up there that want to give us too much shade,” said Barone.
The garden is on town land but does not receive tax dollars said Barone. For more information or to volunteer time or to make a monetary donation email Barone at hopatcongcommunitygarden@gmail.com or call (862) 243-2201. The group also has a website, http://www.hopatcongcommunitygarden.org/ and a Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/HopatcongCommunityGarden.

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What a nice article on HCG. Alice King’s passion has become a reality. I’m proud to be a member of this wonderful garden community, this wonderful group of people. Over the past 3 years I’ve enjoyed seeing the dedication and hard work invested by our president Jen, our board members, and every member along the way help it grow from it’s early planning stages into everything Alice dreamed of back in April of 2011. I think she would be pleased. It’s a place where members of the community come together to share their passion for gardening, to socialize, and improve their health and well being. What a beautiful tribute to her dream.

Trudy Simms | March 27, 2014