Capital City Farm received a major boost of support in July when Investors Bank Foundation and Roma Bank Foundation each donated $6,000 to the project, a collaboration between D&R Greenway Land Trust, Mercer County, the city of Trenton, Isles Inc., the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen, Escher Street SRO, the East Trenton Collaborative, and the Rescue Mission of Trenton.
Obtaining fresh food is a challenge for urban residents, and often insurmountable for those with the greatest financial needs. “Trenton’s new farm will provide food and skills training for a city population that doesn’t always have access to fresh foods,” says D&R Greenway CEO Linda Mead. “The urban farm will have a long-term impact on the lives of people who utilize the Soup Kitchen and Escher Street SRO by providing a green growing space and a grounding that will impact their lives in a positive way.”
Located next to the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen on Escher Street in Trenton, the land for the farm was acquired for the project by the city of Trenton with funding from Mercer County’s Open Space Fund. The partnership began three years ago when TASK volunteer Kate Mitnick approached D&R Greenway about the availability of the land, a former rail spur, for an urban farm. D&R Greenway vice president Jay Watson assembled the partners and negotiated the acquisition of the land from 92-year-old Norma Pratico, a member of a prominent family of lawyers, realtors and jewelers. In the end, the group paid $262,500 for the parcel.
In addition to providing fresh produce to residents and social service agencies, the vision is for the farm to offer education and employment opportunities and job training. With the first crops to be planted as early as this fall, plans are for the site to include a wildflower meadow to attract pollinating insects, raised beds for seasonal vegetables, berries and flowers, a small orchard of fruit trees in raised containers, chicken coops for eggs, beehives for honey, hydroponic greenhouses to grow leafy vegetables year round and a shaded gathering space.
The Pratico family placed $130,000 in escrow to help pay for remidiation measures including installation of a one-foot cap over the fill that had been used to elevate the railroad siding to grade level.
Sandy S. Broughton, vice president, Investors Bank, who presented the check. Said Broughton: “Investors Bank is proud of its dedication and commitment to the community. The dynamic collaboration between so many community partners is amazing and awesome. Projects like this are very critical and a fantastic way for us to serve so many of our neighbors in need.”
“We are pleased to be able to create something that’s healthy for community members in the heart of Trenton,” said Mead.
The Greenway argues that green space such as the Capital City Farm is not only good for the land, but that it’s good for business. According to a 2010 study by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, preserving land boosts regional property values an average of $10,000 up to a mile away, in addition to creating jobs in agriculture, tourism, hospitality, and land management.
Re/Max Tri County, based in Hamilton, donated 115 backpacks to HomeFront as part of the Mercer County Association of Realtors’ backpack challenge. The Lawrenceville-based nonprofit works to end homelessness in central New Jersey.
‘‘It is so rewarding to see a group of very competitive sales agents work together for the betterment of their community,” said Broker Rosalie Daniels. The effort was led by RE/MAX agent Stephanie Young of the Joan George Team with the help of 27 other agents.