• What is Groundwork Elizabeth?
    Founded in England in 1979, the Groundwork program engages the public sector, the private sector and the community in addressing challenges in urban communities. more information

  • What type of projects and programs are being done now?
    Groundwork’s mission is to improve places and in doing so to improve the lives of people within the Elizabeth community and beyond. more information

  • How can I get involved?
    Groundwork welcomes individual group and corporate volunteers and sponsorships. more information

Work has begun on
Union County Means Green Community Gardens initiative,
made possible by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders

Union County, NJ – The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders is pleased to announce that the new Union County Means Green Community Garden Grants program has awarded grants to over 20 community organizations to start a new community garden, or to expand and improve an existing garden. The garden grant program is being administered by the non-profit organization Groundwork Elizabeth under its Come Grow With Us! community garden program.

“Growing fresh produce provides the benefits of improved nutrition, environmental education, recreation, socializing, volunteer opportunities, and neighborhood beautification,” said Freeholder Chairman Bruce H. Bergen. “This new funding opportunity is designed to help local groups assemble the resources they need to bring these positive experiences to their community.”

“The community gardens funded through this program will provide a source of enrichment for many years to come, and I thank Chairman Bergen and the Freeholder Board for introducing this new grant program,” said New Jersey State Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (District 20), whose advocacy for community gardening lead to the founding of Come Grow With Us! in 2009. “Come Grow With Us addresses the goal of making sure everyone has access to locally grown, fresh foods, and the Union County Means Green initiative is a key part of meeting the objective of sustainability and food access.”

The Union County Means Green Community Garden Grants program is part of Chairman Bergen’s 2016 “Union County Means Green” 2016 initiative for environmental outreach. It builds on the County’s support for the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County Master Gardeners program, which focuses on community nutrition and education.

“This new grant program joins Union County residents with national efforts to raise awareness about the importance of gardening for a fit, healthy community, such as the USDA Peoples Garden Initiative and the Let’s Move! Initiative, and we are very excited to help this movement grow,” said Jonathan Phillips, Executive Director of Groundwork Elizabeth.

Funding from the Union County Means Green Community Garden Grants was made available to non-profit civic organizations and agencies including historical societies, community centers, senior centers, municipal agencies or departments, and volunteer civic groups such as municipal Environmental Commissions and neighborhood associations. At this time funding is not available to schools or school districts.

The grants for new gardens are designed to take all of the guesswork out of creating a new community garden. The grant package includes planning, setup, maintenance, education and guidance, all provided in one package by Groundwork Elizabeth’s expert community garden team.

More details are available on the Union County website at: ucnj.org/garden-grants.

NJ DEP, Groundwork Elizabeth and Kean Launch P.E.A.S. Initiative

The NJ Environmental Protection Agency, in partnership with Groundwork Elizabeth and Liberty Hall Farm at Kean University hosted a kickoff ceremony to celebrate a new community initiative named “MORE P.E.A.S”., standing for Permaculture, Education in Agricultural Systems. The celebration was held at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, April 15, 2016. In the initiative, Groundwork Elizabeth will oversee a multi year grant.

The MORE P.E.A.S. initiative, according to a spokesman for the partnership, “ promotes the three core tenets of permaculture: care for the earth (stewardship); care for people (social and cultural revitalization); and return of surplus (reinvestment and recycling).”

Importantly, Groundwork Elizabeth along with our governmental partners will work collaboratively with the private sector, faith-based organizations, community-based organizations, local educators and the community at large to undertake various projects that will result in better access to healthy foods, strategies to build sustainable agricultural systems, development of green-career opportunities, and quality of life improvements in socially and economically-challenged areas of the City of Elizabeth, the Township of Union, and other areas throughout the County of Union.

Event speakers for the celebration of the MORE P.E.A.S. launch included NJDEP Deputy Commissioner, David L. Glass, City of Elizabeth, Mayor J. Christian Bollwage, NJ 20th District Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, Union County Freeholder Bette Ann Kowalski, Felice Vazquez representing Dr. Dawood Farahi, President of Kean University, Groundwork Elizabeth Board President Gregory J. Waga, Green Team Youth leader Adriana Morocho, and Groundwork Elizabeth’s Executive Director Jonathan Phillips and Come Grow With Us Farm and Garden Director Jackie Park Albaum.

Groundwork Elizabeth’s Marlen Paredes participates in new program with the National Park Service: Mountains to Main Street
Marlen Paredes of Groundwork Elizabeth’s Green Team was selected by the National Park Service as an intern for the newly developed “Mountains for Main Street” program. She’ll be visiting Grand Teton National Park for hands on training, and then coming back to Elizabeth and then leading the Green Team in events as she shares her learned experiences here to improve infrastructure and access to open space in Elizabeth.

(Marlen is shown here on the right with some of her Green Team associates on a recent trip to another National Park)

Elizabeth River Trail Phase II due to begin construction this coming Spring. Green Team’s EPA Urban Waters Grant builds community engagement for the River trail and associated watershed.
Plans are in place for the next phase of construction of the Elizabeth River Trail, portioned from Bridge Street to the Rt. 1 & 9 overpass. The City of Elizabeth has coordinated the logistics for the work and worked to line up funding for the portion right behind the Dwyer House of Elizabeth High School. More phases will soon follow as part of a combined Sewer Control Project by the City of Elizabeth. Partners include the US Army Corps of Engineers, the NJ Environmental Infrastructure Trust, the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection Green Acres Program, Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders Open Space Trust Fund, Groundwork Elizabeth, and others.

Groundwork Elizabeth’s Green Team is engaged in a study of the watershed which parallels the River Trail, funded by the United States Environmental Protection Agency Urban Waters program.

Come Grow With Us!

Green Team

Tour de Elizabeth