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A new garden is opening at the Palmyra Cove Nature Center and it will be a community project in all respects.
The Palmyra Cove Community Garden is the result of a partnership between the Bridge Commission and Palmyra Borough to create a sustainable garden that is free to the public to work and benefit from.
Unlike many community gardens that rent or designate specific plots to individuals or families to use to grow plants and foods, the Palmyra Cove Community Garden will be completely free and open to all residents of Palmyra to use and enjoy.
The garden, which is located next to the Cove’s environmental center building and visitors center, will depend largely on residents to care and maintain, and residents will also be welcome to sample and harvest the foods grown at the site, officials said.
“At the Bridge Commission we’re looking at our entire operation for ways that we can help to promote sustainable, environmentally-friendly practices,” said Burlington County Bridge Commission Chairman Matthew Riggins. “The Palmyra Cove Community Garden is a great example of this initiative. Together with Palmyra Borough, we’re dedicating a portion of our park to help bring the community together around a greener, earth-friendly way of living.”
Burlington County Commissioner Felicia Hopson said the community garden represents another “forward-thinking” addition that would further enhance the popular park.
“Palmyra Cove is one of the special places that helps make Burlington County so wonderful to live and raise a family,” Hopson said. “We’re extremely proud to partner with the Bridge Commission on the site’s operation and we think the community garden is a great initiative and shared service that can be duplicated across the county and state.”
Palmyra Mayor Gina Ragomo Tait said the garden would be a true community space.
“By working with the Bridge Commission, we’re creating a space where our residents will not only gather to grow food, but also a place where they can meet and interact directly with their neighbors,” Tait said. “Not only will we be growing fresh good foods, but also stronger community ties.”
The Burlington County Bridge Commission Maintenance Department built the 12 garden boxes and the Commission also supplied some of the initial vegetable plants currently growing in the plots, but Riggins said the Garden would depend on residents to work and maintain them and supply additional seeds and plants.
“We took the lead to get the garden started, but from here the public will take over,” Riggins said. “This will be the community’s garden to work and maintain, and we want everyone to feel free to enjoy the fruits of the community’s labor.”
A ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the official opening of the new garden is scheduled for this Saturday at 10 AM at the Nature Center, which is located off Route 73 at the base of the Tacony-Palmyra Bridge.
The public is invited to attend the ceremony and tour the 250-acre nature preserve, which is jointly managed by the Bridge Commission and County.
The site was formerly used as a dumping ground for dredge spoils but has become an “urban oasis” along the Delaware River due to its varied habitats of wetlands, woods, meadows, wild creek and river shoreline, as well as the freshwater Tidal Cove the park is named after. It has also become a renown location for hundreds of species of birds and other wildlife.
Palmyra Cove’s environmental center also houses the Institute for Earth Observations at Palmyra Cove, a STEM education initiative focused on the natural history of the areas and the biology of the nature park.