Urban Agriculture Conservation Initiative

Growing Community, Nourishing Our Future

Ocean County Soil Conservation District is leading efforts towards a more sustainable community in Lakewood Township through the implementation of our Urban Agriculture Conservation (UAC) initiative. Through generous funding provided by the National Association of Conservation Districts through a cooperative agreement with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, UAC supports agricultural production utilizing the techniques of “urban agriculture”. This initiative will help bring fresh produce to those in need, and nurture connections amongst community in Lakewood Township – a designated food desert in Ocean County.

OCSCD has several partnering organizations supporting this project, including, Georgian Court University, Barnegat Bay Partnership, Brick Township Municipal Utilities Authority, Township of Lakewood, New Jersey Agricultural Society – Farmers Against Hunger, Lakewood High School, Fulfill, and Healthy Landscapes NJ.

OCSCD and partners will strive to build community capacity in Lakewood Township by utilizing the knowledge and skills of partners who make up the Urban Agriculture Advisory Committee, in their areas of expertise, to provide strategic advice and planning towards the accomplishment of our goals and objectives.”

Georgian Court University’s 4,000 square foot Mercy Garden is dedicated to vegetable production, supports pollinators and serves as an outdoor classroom. Louise Wootton, Chairperson, Department of Biology, describes the Mercy Garden as a vehicle that not only provides fresh food for the local Lakewood community, it also offers “service opportunities” for GCU students. Students from all major interests – art, business, science, history, literature – can utilize the garden in myriad ways to support learning.

Lakewood High School has a robust Horticultural program facilitated by teacher, Brian Surgent. The program includes a Horticulture class offered to 150 Juniors and Seniors that engages them in topics including soil health, seed germination, vegetable gardening, transplanting, and more. A 750 sq foot greenhouse on campus lends itself to hands-on lessons and gardening experiences. Lakewood High School campus offers myriad possibilities for expanding gardens. A complete soil survey of the school grounds was compiled, indicating the soil types available.

A comprehensive Tool Kit of online resources has been compiled to introduce community members to the possibilities of community gardening, and offer educational information about growing fresh food and produce, nutrition, water conservation, healthy soil, and environmentally friendly landscaping. The Tool Kit is continuously updated with new information.

Ocean County Soil Conservation District
714 Lacey Road
Forked River, NJ 08731
(609) 971-7002