Isles currently supports more than 70 community gardens across the city of Trenton by providing technical and organizational assistance to local residents and other community-based organizations.
Over the years, these gardens have played a critical role at the household level in helping families meet their food needs by increasing access to fresh and nutritious foods at low cost. Gardens:
- Improve nutrition and health by providing exercise and fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables.
- Save families hundreds of dollars per year. During Trenton’s long growing season, an 800-square-foot plot can provide enough vegetables to feed a family for an entire year.
- Strengthen the community by enhancing connections between people, making the streets more secure, and giving people a chance to share food with others. Over 70% of Isles’ gardeners report that gardening greatly improves their neighborhoods.
- Clean the environment by improving soil and growing plants that filter the air
- Beautify communities.
School Gardening & Youth Education:
Isles successfully engages students, grades K-12 and beyond, in agriculture, environmental, and food education.
Through gardening and growing food, we are able to demonstrate the significance of growing food locally to improve nutrition, reduce the cost of feeding families, and teach children about the critical connection they have to the earth.
Isles works with teachers and students in gardens at over twenty schools in the Trenton area. Since 2013, we have proudly hosted FoodCorps service members in partnership with Rutgers Cooperative Extension and NJ Farm to School. Our staff worked directly with over 700 students, many of them repeatedly, at school gardens and at afterschool and summer programs. In addition to gardening education, we provide hands-on cooking workshops and lessons for both youth and families.
Bee Colony Project:
As part of Isles’ goal to educate the public and promote sustainability, Isles has established a bee colony at Isles Youth Institute.
The purpose of the colony is twofold: to provide observation hives so people of all ages may safely view bees and how their colonies function, and also to provide habitat for a creature whose value as a pollinator is under threat. The bees also serve as pollinators for gardens within roughly a three-mile radius of the hives. Additionally, the bee colony offers a great opportunity to educate the public about the importance of bees in the environment and their value as pollinators for the food supply.