Greater Newark Conservatory
32 Prince Street
Newark, NJ 07103
Open: Please check the website for site and time listings
Fee: Free but donations accepted
My review on TripAdvisor:
The Greater Newark Conservatory has been credited for much of the improvement in the City of Newark.
Having three farms, it has given new life to empty lots, given school children a chance to experience urban farming and given suburbanites a taste of country life in the city all while improving the lives of its residents. Having attended the recent “Beds & Breakfast” gardening program put on every year, I can see the outreach that the Conservatory is trying to have on people outside the city.
The Beds & Breakfast Seminar is an annual event that covers things like sustainable farming, trips for growing and pruning plants and trees and cooking classes. In the era of COVID, we had the 2021 “Beds & Breakfast” virtually this year and it was really nice because we could attend the meetings via Zoom. It was very engaging and you could ask questions online.
In the warmer months, it is nice to walk along the gardens and admire all the fruits, vegetables and plants being grown here. They have other events as well like Summer Cocktail parties and Pot Lucks.
The gardens and the new Demo building
Another event I recently attending was the Conservatory’s October Fest, which was a small festival where the gardens on Prince Street were open to the public and local vendors were selling their wares at tables surrounding the main walk way of the garden. The Conservatory was also running their Youth Farm Stand as well with fresh vegetables from their ‘farm’. In 2021, they had a smaller event with vendor booths and music. It was funny to see so many people with masks in the cool weather.
Try to support the Youth Farm Stand at the Greater Newark Conservatory
In the future, there will be Pumpkin Patches by the farm and a small event for Halloween.
The History and Purpose of The Greater Newark Conservatory:
The Greater Newark Conservatory (GNC) is a non-profit organization headquartered in Newark, NJ with the state goal of promoting ‘environmental stewardship to improve the quality of life in New Jersey’s urban communities’. It offers programs for youth education, community greening and gardening, nutritional health, job training and prisoner re-entry (Wiki).
Founded in 1987, the Greater Newark’s Conservatory’s mission is to promote environmental stewardship to improve the quality of life in New Jersey’s urban communities. The 3.7 million Prudential Outdoor Learning Center, named in honor of a $750,000 grant from the Prudential Foundation, was completed in 2004 and has hosted more than 16,000 at risk inner city children for environmental education field trips since that time (Vince Baglivo, Star-Ledger 2010).
The Conservatory grounds
The first step toward making the new Center a reality was the purchase of the historic former synagogue/church building at 32-34 Prince Street in downtown Newark. Acquired by the City of Newark, the property included the building and the land that it occupies (Vince Baglivo, Star-Ledger 2010).
The Conservatory provides programs on youth education and nutritional health and cooking. In the Demonstration Kitchen program, participants are provided instruction on cooking with recipes having high nutritional value. The Newark Youth Leadership Program (NYLP) provides training to high school students in Newark through a year-round program on horticulture. The program also includes a summer internship program where high school students are assigned to various department in the Conservatory in order to gain experience with career-related skills. The summer interns also receive training on finance, public speaking and nutrition (Wiki).
One Conservatory initiative is to bolster and support urban farms in the City of Newark. The urban farms were created with the purpose of offering low-cost and healthy foods in Newark. Participants also have the option of growing their food in one of 360 private plots. In 2011, the urban farms administered by the Conservatory generated 5,000 pounds of produce. The produce is sold in local farmers’ markets. Crops raised include arugula, beets and corn. Other related programs include raising chickens and maintaining a honey apiary (Wiki).
The gardens and grounds
The Conservatory is community partner for the City of Newark’s prisoner re-entry programs where job training is provided to ex-offenders through its ‘Clean and Green’ program. They include vacant lots in Newark, labor in maintaining urban farms and offering instruction to school groups on the basics of farming (Wiki).
Urban Environmental Center:
The Conservatory conducts its activities primarily at the Judith L. Shipley Urban Environmental Center, the Prudential Outdoor Learning Center and at its main education building. Many educational programs take place there as well. The center was named after Judith and Walter Shipley, who were major donors of the Conservatory. The Prudential Outdoor Learning Center is 1.5 acre site located on Prince Street in Newark and contains a series of outdoor exhibits and thematic gardens (Wiki).
Four program areas: environmental education, community greening and gardening, advocacy for environmental justice and job training, are the focus of activities involving everyone from students to seniors (Vince Baglivo Star-Ledger 2010).
The Community Greening Program addresses Newark’s deficit of quality preserved open space by enhancing existing community parks, creating new pocket parks, establishing greenways and improving neighborhoods with street trees, street side planted flower barrels and community gardens. The program works with Newark residents to transform neighborhoods with curbside flower barrels and lush community gardens on former vacant lots. These urban farms increase accessibility to food sources for urban residents by providing high quality, locally grown healthy food using natural pest control methods (Vince Baglivo Star-Ledger 2010).
Disclaimer: I want to credit writer Vince Baglivo from the Star-Ledger “Greater Newark Conservatory: City’s best kept Secret” 2010 and Wikipedia (current) as well as the Greater Newark Conservatory for information on the site. Please call the above number for more information on upcoming programs.