Urban Agriculture Conservation Initiative (UAC) – Growing Community, Nourishing Our Future

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Ocean County Soil Conservation District is proud to be a community leader in efforts towards eliminating hunger, creating a healthier community and supporting a more sustainable planet through the implementation of our Urban Agriculture Conservation (UAC) initiative.

OCSCD’s UAC – Growing Community, Nourishing Our Future project was launched in 2016 through generous funding provided by the National Association of Conservation Districts through a cooperative agreement with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. This initiative helps bring fresh produce to those in need, focusing on townships designated as food deserts, by utilizing the techniques of “urban agriculture”.

OCSCD has several partnering organizations supporting this UAC project that make-up the Urban Agriculture Advisory Committee including,

OCSCD and partners strive to build capacity in our communities by utilizing the knowledge and skills of partners in their areas of expertise. Together we provide strategic advice and planning towards the accomplishment of our goals and objectives.

Georgian Court University’s 4,000 sq ft Mercy Garden

The 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 Greenhouse & Campus

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.