This past Friday, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Mercer County spruced up its 212 Centre Street Trenton garden in preparation for the summer months. A group of volunteers came out on March 25 to help sweep, clean, prune and mulch the area where the Boys and Girls Club holds its summer camps.

Bryana Tiggett, who has an environmental education degree from Rider University, is the outdoor indoor garden specialist or, as she likes to be known, the Garden Manager.

“We had a garden volunteer day, and we just needed to clean up the space, so we cleaned up all the trash, pushed the mulch back into place because it rained…we pruned all the all of the big bushes and trees,” Tiggett said. 

In preparation for the organization’s summer camp, the outdoor space will teach Trenton kids about gardening and harvesting the fruits and vegetables they grow. 

“I teach the kids all about growing and what to grow and what’s all growing around them and about the ecosystem, and then we come out here, and we do it in real-time,” Tiggett said.

During the summer months, kids at the summer camp can even take home what they harvested and do a taste test with their entire family. “They do gardening in the summer where though they’ll grow tomatoes and peppers and then…when the vegetables are ripe, they’ll send some home to taste tests and cook as a project in the summer,” said Sean Phillips, Boys and Girls Clubs of Mercer County’s Director of Operations.

They don’t do this alone. There is help across the community including Rutgers Master Gardeners who come to help teach Trenton children about the different ways of gardening. Terry Truitt is one of the Master Gardeners. When snow is on the ground during the winter months, she works as Mrs. Claus. However, when the snow melts and flowers bloom, she lets her green thumb show and takes on the role of mother nature by tending to the Boys and Girls Club gardens. 

“There’ll be all kinds of vegetables to pick,” Truitt said. “This day is what gardeners call Christmas because you’re out in the garden. You’re getting ready to get the plants into the ground. Your sun’s getting warmer, and we can see what it’s gonna look like in July, which is the best.” 

For Tiggett, the most rewarding part is when Trenton people stop by to pick and eat what they plant. 

“You should see how many people come out here to even look at the space, and they really do love it…They’re like, ‘oh, this is a really cool spot, you know, can I walk in? Can I see what’s all here? Can I take a breath in here?’ And I love it. It’s one of my favorite things, just interacting with people that walk by. They’re like, ‘Can I have a cucumber today?’ Absolutely. Please take it. We’re here for the community,” Tiggett said.

There is another volunteer opportunity for the second garden day at the Spruce Street clubhouse on April 8th, 2022 from 10 a.m., to 1 p.m.