What’s Growing On In The Garden
Here we are deep into our second year of working “Boudinot’s Garden”, named in honor of the first gentleman farmer to work the land. (For more on Elias Boudinot, click the Estate History link.)
Last summer, the first growing year, the garden became a shared responsibility between the Ross Farm volunteers and a coalition of local churches who dedicate their efforts to growing fresh produce for local soup kitchens and the county food bank in Somerville. The garden was divided into 6 rectangular beds with a perennial/wild flower border. Surrounding the whole is critter fencing to encourage uninvited foraging “guests” to look elsewhere for their meals.
This past spring, the garden manager, Dave Torcivia, with the help of many of our deeply appreciated Ross Farm volunteers, doubled the size of the garden creating 6 new beds which were assigned to the efforts of the church coalition. We as an organization take gratitude seriously so we would like to take this opportunity to express how thankful we are for our volunteers, partners, and sponsors that are so very dedicated to the success of Boudinot’s Garden; Somerset County Park’s Commission, Back To Nature Home and Garden, St Marks Church, St Bernards Church, St John on the Mountain Church, and The New Jersey Herbal Society gardeners at The Wick House Kitchen Garden in Jockey Hollow, Morristown and the many, many individuals both affiliated and unaffiliated with the above mentioned organizations.
But why create a garden in the first place? What was its intended purpose? And how is it being utilized now? In the words of Mr. Torcivia (also known to those who love him as the Grand High Poobah of the garden) ‘the garden was created to address part of the mission of the Board that supports and promotes the Ross Farm.’
In its historical context, the land was always a gentleman’s farm stretching all the way back to its very first owner, William Penn. (Yes, THAT William Pen.) So the garden pays homage to that aspect of the Board’s mission. It also addresses the educational component through its community building move of partnering with the church coalition. The children of the collective churches grew pre-season green bean seedlings which they then planted directly into the garden bed dedicated primarily to their efforts. The coalition also established a perennial/historical herb bed based on the shape of Caroline Foster’s perennial garden (of Fosterfields Living Historical Farm, Morristown) which features herbs and edible plants either gifted from the Wick Farm kitchen garden at Jockey Hollow National Park, Morristown, or along with numerous herbs currently in favor, ones that might have been found in an 18th/19th century kitchen garden. One of the plants in this bed, the Scarlett Runner Bean, originally came from the Plimoth Plantation, Massachusetts, in the form of seeds; a beautiful flowering vine that produces edible string beans while immature and dried beans if left to over-ripen and dry on the vine. (If you visit the garden you will find this plant climbing the spiral trellis in the center of the bed.)The garden also provided an opportunity for Girl Scout Troop #60477 to establish a butterfly garden in one of the original 6 beds lending fluttering notes of beauty to this special place. (The bed to your far right when you enter the garden gates.)
So what’s on tap for the future of the garden? One small section is currently under a “solar blanket” which will kill back the field grasses underneath in anticipation of prepping the soil for an asparagus bed next spring. But if you ask the “Poobah”, the garden will be expanded yet again! Also the lure of re-establishing a fruit orchard is tantalizingly close. (The farm currently boasts two remaining apple trees from former orchards whose fruit will be used in a dessert at the Farm To Table event scheduled for September 24th this year.)The raspberry patch may be expanded and a blueberry field established. Hopefully soon, a bee hive will be set-up in the field north of the garden.
Sky’s the limit! Stay tuned!