Volunteers pitch in to improve Andover community garden

May 23 2017 | 09:50 AM

By Rose Sgarlato
It was all hands on deck at Sunset Vista Community Garden & Learning Center on Saturday, May 20, when volunteers came together to create some new additions for gardeners.
Located at Sunset View Farm on Pierce Road in Andover Township, the farm has a community-supported garden with 50 plots, a learning center and various educational programs, including wellness workshops that reach out to local places of employment. More recently, an accessible garden with six raised beds was also added.
Sunset View continues to evolve under farmer/owner Linda Grinthal who recently thought bocce balls and horseshoes could be a nice new feature.
“I am always trying to think Italian and give the farm that Tuscan feeling. Folks from the Department of Disabilities visit the accessible garden often, so I thought they can enjoy some food and fun,” said Grinthal.
Grinthal’s community ties to local businesses, schools and organizations result in a variety of hardworking volunteers — the Salt Shakers is one of them.
Rob Davidson founded the Salt Shakers, a local trail-running club, nine years ago.
“I always envisioned our group doing community service. We do a lot with Pass It Along, and we have raised over $60,000 for the Sussex County Women’s Forum over the last eight seasons,” said Davidson.
Davidson and some of his fellow runners shifted gears May 20 to do some heavy lifting, cement work and fire-pit building.
“He (Davidson) gets us roped into all kinds of things,” said Salt Shaker member Jennifer Pruden, who was part of the crew making the bocce ball court.
In addition to the bocce ball court, fire pit and horseshoe pit, an accessible pathway was created so that gardeners in wheelchairs can easily get to the recreation area from the accessible garden.
Grinthal said previously many other volunteers pitched in time laying the groundwork for these enhancements.
“Two of my boys had to lug 36 - 4x4s and 15 - 50 lbs. bags of sand. The Selective Insurance employees prepped the area, and my regular volunteers mowed and sprayed vinegar for weed reduction and gathered wood. Also, Bruce Gordon, a woodcrafter from Andover, donated lots of tools and even sharpened, sanded and oiled them for us.”
Grinthal was also grateful to St. Mary's Episcopal Church, John Vitale of Caffe Anello and the Sussex County DPW for their donations.
There is always more on the horizon at Sunset View Farm.
“A new project at the community garden is the Educational Children's Garden. The plan is to create a sensory experience to awaken all the senses instilling in children a love of gardening and the outdoors," said Grinthal. “We received a grant from Scott's Miracle Grow, whose organic products we can use here. We plan to invite groups of disadvantaged children to come enjoy the garden and we may hold educational workshops for field trips."
For volunteer opportunities, or to contribute, visit www.sunsetvista.org.