City folks need to be reminded that fruits and vegetables don’t come from Shop Rite, they come from gardens! Community gardens provide people who don’t have their own space, especially in urban areas, the opportunity to grow their own fruits and vegetables instead of buying produce that often travels long distances before reaching the grocery store. An increased interest in organic gardening has also added to the popularity of these local garden spots. People grow fruits and vegetables in community gardens for different reasons. Some plant for themselves; others grow produce and give to those who can’t afford to buy fresh vegetables. Not only does the community garden provide a place to grow nutritious, hand-pick veggies, the gardens also create and supplement the local food infrastructure and foster a sense of community. The Long Branch Community Gardens are supported by grants from the Office of Economic and Community Development and managed and maintained by Lisa Bagwell of Ocean Grove. Of course Lisa has many helpers including the neighboring families that have personal garden plots on the property. Actually Long Branch has several community gardens and the largest one is located in an old railroad right of way which has been transformed into a beautiful urban oasis of flowers and vegetables. All produce, which is organic, is donated to neighbors, local food banks, and the Long Branch Senior Center. Lisa is a long time gardener and vegan chef, and in addition to tending Long Branch’s urban gardens, Lisa works on a family farm in Cream Ridge. After the interview, check After Hours at Jersey Coastal Live for more info.