Secretary Of Agriculture Visits Unique YMCA Vegetable Garden In Rahway

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Left to right: New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher Fisher, YMCA camper Capri Christmas and Bob Markey, gardening instructor. (Photo courtesy of the NJ Dept. of Agriculture)

Left to right: New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher Fisher, YMCA camper Capri Christmas and Bob Markey, gardening instructor. (Photo courtesy of the NJ Dept. of Agriculture)

RAHWAY – New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher applauded the efforts of 35 summer campers at the YMCA of Eastern Union County in Rahway, who have been tending a garden filled with vegetables, herbs and edible flower, using the Square Foot Gardening technique during a visit Thursday to the garden.

“Children who grow their own vegetables have a greater appreciation for the hard work by the farmers who grow their food,” said Fisher. “We know the YMCA campers will eat more fruits and vegetables as a result of their experience this summer.”

Bob Markey, a local real estate broker and certified square foot gardening instructor, brought the program to the YMCA in 2009.

“Square Foot Gardening is a simple, unique and versatile gardening system that adapts to all levels of experience, physical ability, and geographical location,” said Markey. “We place a box on top of the ground or on a table, add our special soil mix, place a square foot grid on top of each box and we’re ready to plant. Grow more in less space with no hard work. This system uses less water, little weeding and is completely natural.”

Using the Square Foot Gardening method, the campers, ages 6 to 13, are growing red and green lettuce, banana, Anaheim and green peppers, celery, eggplant, red and yellow cherry tomatoes, radishes, Spanish onions, Swiss chard, cucumbers, pumpkins, parsley, rosemary, catnip, dill, basil, pineapple mint, lavender munstead, impatiens, sunflowers and zucchini.

The produce harvested over the course of the season is taken home by the campers, donated to the Rahway community or sold at the Rahway Farmers Market at the New Jersey Transit rail station.

During Fisher’s visit, the YMCA also held its annual Zucchini Race, sponsored by the Square Foot Gardening Foundation and the YMCA. The race began with the children selecting a zucchini squash. They then created an axle using a bamboo skewer, added wheels using cherry tomatoes and decorated their squash. The campers then raced their zucchini cars down a 16-foot three- lane racetrack.


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