Community gardens: A new way to make condos “green” -

How many ways are there to make condos green? In New Jersey – USA – condo apartment owners have decided to add a new amenity to their high-rise properties. They have given residents the possibility to cultivate their own plot of land to grow plants and crops.

At the Beacon complex – in Jersey City – 72 plots are being sectioned off near the community dog run in order to create a community garden; indeed, a garden club is being established. Residents will be able to grab tools from the shed and grow their own jersey tomatoes, herbs, fruits, vegetables and flowers.

George Filopoulos – the Beacon developer and the president of Metrovest Equities – imagined the garden-as-amenity project as a tool to provide Beacon’s buildings and the 14-acre site located close to degraded housing projects with many pastimes and leisure activities.

A prekindergarten learning centre and a private nightclub – called Prohibition – will be opened besides the spa, the movie theatre, the fitness centre, the library, the billiards room and the delicatessen shop that are already present in the residential compound.

Metrovest Equities has been working on the conversion of Jersey City’s former medical centre into a residential complex since 2005. The complex includes about 300 units at the moment, but it will comprise more than 1,000 apartments when the project will be completed. The Beacon’s 10 Art Deco structures are located on a hill at the corner of Montgomery Street and Baldwin Avenue.

Community gardens are being created in other urban areas. The non-profit Greater Newark Conservancy association runs the “adopt a lot” program. The City Green network is being developed in Paterson. Those programs are implemented on the basis of the principles of reclaiming derelict land and producing food in low-income neighbourhoods.

There is also a growing interest towards “horticultural therapy”, while several retirement villages in New Jersey – such as Cedar Crest – already offer residents the possibility to cultivate a community plot of land. Anyway, the Beacon Garden – where soil was put into place and paved recently – is one of the first to offer upscale apartment dwellers the chance to grow their own plants and crops.

Residents will be thought what they need to know on how to maintain organic practices and avoid using pesticides. They will also be given advice on the crops it is worth choosing in an urban garden.

The Garden Club will parcel out its plots by assigning most of them to individual residents. Some parcels will be maintained as group plots where residents who have no gardening experience can work beside more seasoned hands. Both water and basic garden tools will be supplied to cultivators.

Several condo and rental building owners find the idea attractive and innovative and are willing to encourage people to grow their own plants on their porches and balconies.

Source: NYTimes.

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