Clean up and foundation work for the 100th community garden in the city of Camden, N.J., began yesterday. If you’re not familiar with the city of Camden, let me tell you, this is a big deal. I live about seven miles from Camden, but I might as well live a world away because my community is so different from Camden.

For years, Camden was known as the most dangerous city in America. It no longer holds that title, but it can proudly claim a different title, Fastest Growing Community Garden City. (Okay, someone come up with a better title that reflects the same meaning, please.) A study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Public Health Initiatives came up with that moniker.

Young adults from Hopeworks, an organization that helps Camden youth get their GEDs, go to college, and earn a job, are working with the Camden City Garden Club, many faith-based community groups, and the Campbell Soup Company Initiative Organization to get this garden underway. Today, three tractor trailers full of mushroom compost will be dumped in the planter beds on the half-acre site, and gardening begins on Saturday.

This community garden, as well as others in the city, will be used as a source of fresh food, nutrition education for students, and a hands-on learning program for at-risk youth. It will also serve as a center for other community activities.

The Camden City Garden Club has plans for 30+ more community gardens in 2011. They really do want to earn the Fastest Growing Community Garden City title, don’t they?

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