An old sign has been given new life at a city farm, thanks to Zienowicz Signs of Trenton.
A sign shaped like the Trenton Makes bridge that was salvaged and re-lettered to read “Capital City Farm” welcomes visitors to the new farm.
Located next to the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen on Escher Street. the land for the farm was bought by the City of Trenton with funding from Mercer County’s Open Space Fund.
In addition to providing fresh produce to residents and social service agencies, the farm will offer education and employment opportunities and job training. The 2.3-acre site underwent remediation during the spring and summer of 2015, and a pollinator meadow was seeded.
Just a few months after planting, the meadow attracted migrating butterflies and other native pollinators to feed and rest. Further development throughout the fall and winter included the creation of a small demonstration garden, installation of electric and water connections, construction of a 100-ft greenhouse and installation of a 1,500-gallon rain barrel to re-purpose runoff from the neighboring Soup Kitchen’s roof. Local artists painted a bright mural on the site’s storage shed, and 500 cubic yards of topsoil were imported for the 2016 growing season.
During the fall of 2015, produce from the small demonstration garden was donated to six households in East Trenton.
The farm project is a collaborative effort of the D&R Greenway, the East Trenton Collaborative, Isles Inc, the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen, the Escher St SRO, Helping Arms, the Rescue Mission, the Watson Institute, Designing the We, the City of Trenton, and Mercer County. The partnership began when a TASK volunteer approached D&R Greenway about the availability of the land, a former rail spur.
In 2016, the farm will produce 9,000 pounds of produce or more to be distributed to Trenton customers at affordable prices. Plans for produce distribution and community engagement for 2016 are underway.
“Capital City Farm’s physical enhancement to the neighborhood is rooted in maintaining a green open space and a functional, well-designed farm,” says D&R Greenway Project 55 Fellow and on-site coordinator Allegra Lovejoy.
A farm team planted street trees on the adjacent Escher Street and created a new walkway for foot and bicycle traffic from North Clinton Avenue to Escher Street. The walkway, the new fence, the shade trees, and the flowering meadow have been received with enthusiasm from passersby. Turning an unwelcoming, semi-abandoned landscape into one that invites participation and produces something of value for the community has received praise from city residents and business owners, organizers said.
“The farm transforms a sizable vacant and contaminated parcel of land into a clean, productive use that will contribute to our efforts to make East Trenton a more vibrant and healthier neighborhood,” says Diane Sterner of the East Trenton Collaborative.
A community meeting about the farm will be held at 7 p.m. on Feb. 4 at Habitat for Humanity, which is located at 601 N. Clinton Avenue.