Branch Village, Camden, NJ Gets a New Community Garden
Camden, New Jersey, July 31– Better Tomorrows, a nonprofit that provides supportive services for affordable housing residents and its partner, The Michaels Organization, a national leader in residential real estate and the largest private-sector owner of affordable housing in the country, joined Rowan University and Roots to Prevention to bring a community garden to the Branch Village community in Centerville.
Community gardens are meant to benefit their neighbors, but few are intentionally designed to welcome all gardeners, no matter their abilities. The Branch Village community gardening project is part of a larger initiative to help communities become more inclusive and welcoming to individuals of all ability levels.
A new project, led by Rowan University, is underway in South Jersey to create or renovate seven community gardens to make them more inclusive and accessible to people with disabilities. The project is being funded by the Division of Disability Services, New Jersey Department of Human Services through a $250,000 Inclusive Healthy Communities grant awarded to the partner organizations of the Family Resource Network, Rowan University, and Stockton University. Branch Village is fortunate to be one of those garden sites.
The Branch Village Community Garden project collaboration will avail residents of a community garden that will act as a hub for learning about gardening and nutrition. Residents will be encouraged to participate in garden upkeep and on-site educational opportunities. It is the hope that the garden will be a catalyst for increased knowledge about healthy food and nutrition, increased physical activity, and improved mental health as well as a gathering place to promote social health and community cohesion.
“We are honored to be a partner in this important initiative,” says Pat Schwartz, Executive Director of Better Tomorrows. “Food security and knowledge about good nutrition are vital to creating and sustaining healthy, empowered communities.”
About Better Tomorrows: Better Tomorrows is an independent nonprofit organization. It currently supports more than 25,000 low-income youth, adults, and seniors in over 120 affordable housing communities across the country. Its mission is to encourage transformation by mobilizing resources to Magnify Opportunities for residents and communities and to create healthy, sustainable communities today that lead to better tomorrows.
About The Michaels Organization: The Michaels Organization is a national leader in residential real estate offering full-service capabilities in development, property management, construction, and finance. Serving 145,000 residents in more than 400 communities nationwide, Michaels is committed to crafting housing solutions that jumpstart education, civic engagement, and neighborhood prosperity and to creating Communities That Lift Lives.
About the Housing Authority of the City of Camden: The Housing Authority of the City of Camden (HACC) has been serving city residents since 1938, when its first development, Westfield Acres, opened with 514 public housing units to meet the “household needs” of those times. Today, the Housing Authority serves over 9,000 residents through its Public Housing and Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) Programs. Their portfolio has grown to include 16 Asset Management Properties (AMPs), two Rental Assistance Development Program (RADs) sites, as well as, HCVs scattered throughout Camden City and County. We are the proud recipients of three HOPE VI awards (McGuire Gardens, Baldwin’s Run formerly Westfield Acres, and Roosevelt Manor), two CN Planning Grants (Branch Village and Ablett Village), and now two CNI Grants (Branch Village and Ablett Village). They also run various supportive services programs including the Watson Street Assisted Living Program (WSALP), where senior residents can age in place, and the Success Learning Academy, to name a few under the Watson Street Management and Development Corporation (WSMDC) a 501(c)3.
About Rowan University: Since its founding in 1923, Rowan University has evolved from a teacher preparation college to a bustling regional university that’s ranked among the best public universities in the North by U.S. News and World Report. Today, Rowan’s more than 18,000 students choose from more than 74 bachelor’s and 51 master’s degree programs, four doctoral programs, and two professional programs. The university is one of just 56 institutions in the country with accredited programs in business, education, engineering, and medicine.
About Roots to Prevention: Roots to Prevention (RTP) of Camden, New Jersey is a collaboration of residents, nonprofits, farmers, institutions, and government entities. This cross-sectoral partnership is committed to improving underlying social and chronic health conditions. RTP prioritizes investing in Camden’s local food economy while also expanding disease prevention support beyond the doctor’s office and into the community. Since forming in 2019, families and patients are receiving, growing, and even selling more produce than ever before. This is made possible by making fresh foods vouchers, urban farm training, dietary and social services support more accessible. Thanks to a national fund awarded from the BUILD Health Challenge©, a generous match from Virtua Health and PBCIP, the Collaboration is expanding opportunities to redeem these services through a network of “healthy” corner stores, community gardens, and beyond.