If you have been following our growth then you will have noticed that we have moved some of our operations to nearby Orange, NJ. We are very excited to be working with and supported by the Valley Arts District and the University of Orange, a collaborative learning effort designed to ensure that Orange, NJ, becomes the urban village of the 21st century. These organizations aim to develop a community that is inclusive of all kinds of people; supportive of the arts, education and recreation; providers of good employment for a wide range of skills; and caretakers of the urban infrastructure.
In particular is has been wonderful working with our immediate neighbors ORNG Ink. The art students have helped harvest some of our veggies, as well as added a beautiful and creative flair to our site.
Currently we are collaborating on an Earthbox “farm” in the Central Ward of Newark. Using the SPIN farming method we are again growing everything from collards and lettuces to heirloom tomatoes and corn.
The first organization to receive training in the “The Arthur and Friends Urban Greenhouse and Training Center” will be Prodigal Sons and Daughters Re-Entry Services. Prodigal Sons and Daughters Prisoner Re-entry Program Inc. (PSD) mission is to provide support to ex-offenders who are returning to society and ready to make amends and a positive impact to the community they once violated. To date, 200 ex-offenders have been through various training and mentoring program led by PSD and have maintained a zero recidivism rate. Their aim now is to create a number of our own small businesses in order to teach the graduates both concrete and soft job skills while simultaneously building their resume and work experience. A number of the Prodigals trained in landscape, greenhouse and horticulture management while in prison. The Prodigals’ Green Business Initiative, under the leadership of Walter Barry, received Greater Newark Conservancy’s 2009 Neighborhood Partner of the Year Award.
The hydroponic greenhouse concept is an integral component of their planned business development and upon completion of the six month training program in Orange, the Prodigals will be qualified to develop and assume management of their own greenhouse business. In addition to being the first “training class” in “The Arthur and Friends Urban Greenhouse and Training Center” the Prodigals constructed the actual greenhouse and installed the hydroponic infrastructure. In anticipation of this certification, the Prodigals, with the assistance of Garden State Urban Farms, have already entered in discussions with potential funders, municipalities, neighborhood development corporations and other potential collaborators for assistance in developing their own “Arthur” program.