A grand vision

It was 2009 when co-founders Myra Bowie-McCready, Carolle Huber and Samantha Rothman  advocated for converting an abandoned lot in Morristown into a flourishing garden. As they turned their dream into reality, they began the serious process, not only of transforming a plot of land, but of transforming lives. Next came New Jersey’s largest public school garden – Urban Farm – a teen-focused program, followed by the opening of St. Elizabeth University’s The Green House and then the winter Farmers Market.

Further, the emergence of the Early Street Community Garden created a unique opportunity for a wide range of Morristown nonprofits to establish their own plots at the community garden. Participating organizations include Homeless Solutions, Neighborhood House, Wind of the Spirit, Morris County Hispanic American Chamber of Commerce, Colonial L.I.F.E. and St. Margaret’s.

But there is so much more

Over the last 13 years, the organization has evolved further into a multi-dimensional resource for Morristown.  Initially recognized as a significant source for locally grown, fresh produce for the community supporting a range of food banks (including Interfaith Food Pantry Network, nourishNJ, Table of Hope, Newark SAS Farm to Table)  along with distribution among local families, Grow It Green is now also appreciated for the farm-based education it provides. Across the community, individuals are able to gain first-hand insights into where food comes from while also learning how to care for the environment.

But the organization plays an even bigger role in the community it serves. Along with access to delicious, healthy affordable food and essential lessons on sustainability, the leaders at Grow It Green have taken on responsibility for standing in solidarity with Black communities locally and nationwide against racism and police brutality in all its forms. Their distinctive culture is based on core values that support taking action to create equity and celebrate diversity.  Following through on a critical applied practice path lasting five months in 2021, they joined people across the nation participating in an interactive series on Anti-Racism and Anti-Oppression led by Yancey Consulting, culminating in implementing revised programs, policies and priorities.

How do they accomplish all this?

The mission boldly states that “Grow It Green Morristown creates sustainable farms and gardens, and educates communities on healthy eating and environmental stewardship. We believe that fresh, local food should be accessible for all.” Further, they continue to expand their reach and achieve new heights by developing new programs and increasing the overall availability of fresh food, sharing the growing experience with neighbors, and educating and connecting more and more people regarding the obligations to protect the planet. In 2021, they surpassed previous milestones, donating 11,000 pounds of fresh food and at the same time increasing their donations by a staggering 170% over the past four years.

But they could never attain their goals without a team of professionals that is completely dedicated to the task. In fact, the leadership team has been carefully assembled to ensure success.

What Lisa Alexander, Shaun Ananko, Marley Weaver, Jenna Karahalios, Andeana Gonzales, Christine Malloy all share is a love for farming, a love for the land, and a love for feeding people nutritious and delicious foods. Whether they grew up playing in their mother’s garden, participating in 4-H Clubs, getting dirty while planting tomatoes in their yard, or with an interest in horticultural therapy, their passion for connecting agriculture and people says it all.

To learn more about Grow It Green Morristown, visit their website at www.growitgreenmorristown.org