PHOTO: LBC Trustee, Nick DiFranco instructs parents and children as they clear plots for cultivation.

LONG BRANCH, N.J—April 23, 2016. Cloudy skies and a light drizzle couldn’t dampen the spirits of all that attended the Long Branch Concordance Family Success Center’s opening day at the 7th Avenue Community Garden!

The Long Branch Concordance Family Success Center’s 7th Annual Strengthening Families Community Garden Kickoff and Health Fair was the opening day for local families to claim their much sought after garden plots, remove winter debris, weed and, begin preparing their garden for healthy, organic vegetables and herbs to feed their families throughout the season.

Master Gardner, Lisa Bagwell assisted the LBC staff, volunteers, and families in managing the expansive 75 yard x 25 yard (2 city block) garden from April through October. “We have to thank the City of Long Branch and Jacob Jones who have supplied the land, tools and plants over the years,” stated Lisa Wilson, LBC Executive Director. “Because of this generous contribution our families and Long Branch residents have access to free organic food.” In addition to providing what is needed for growing food, the LBC provides the tools necessary to help nurture and grow families as well!”

Aside from gardening, the Strengthening Families Garden Kickoff was also a Health Fair. Visitors had the opportunity to take part in a wide variety of free health screenings and obtain informational literature plus fun handouts. In attendance were LBC Community Partners including the Visiting Nurse Association of Central Jersey, Child Care Resources, Habitat for Humanity in Monmouth County, Brookdale Community College Nursing Program, County Council for Young Children and 180,Turning Lives Around, Inc.

Murray Elinson, First Class Scout, supported the 7th Avenue Community Garden while representing Boy Scout Troop 58 of Oceanport and earning community service hours. Murray was a dedicated worker and tirelessly cleared garden plots side by side with our families and volunteers.

The Garden Kickoff was a fun-filled day for all! LBC parents and children, staff, Trustees, volunteers, and service providers shared a delicious, healthy breakfast. When children tired of digging with their parents they enjoyed crafts, stickers, tattoos, bubbles, played games, and received colorful pinwheels, the symbol of child abuse prevention.

As a valuable part of the LBC’s mission to prevent child abuse by strengthening families, the 7th Avenue Community Garden provides an opportunity to promote parent child interaction as well as grow family literacy and life skills. The garden becomes a fabulous family activity where everyone learns how to prepare and store healthy foods, too. Also, twice weekly LBC staff attends the garden to offer free crafts and parent/child activities!

Please feel free to join the garden as a volunteer any Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Contact Lisa Wilson, Executive Director at 732.571.1670 or by email at lisa@lbc4help.org or Elena Delaney, Volunteer and Community Resource Coordinator at elena@lbc4help.org, or visit www.lbc4help.org and find us on facebook.

If you are a Master Gardener interested in being a part of our rich and vibrant 7th Avenue Community Garden, please call to learn more about time commitment and compensation.