ATLANTIC CITY — About 25 police and fire personnel helped build a 40-bed community garden and park today at the Hamilton Memorial United Methodist Church in the Northeast Inlet
The project was organized by Cookie Till, owner of Margate restaurant Steve and Cookie's. She said her aim was to bring fresh produce to an area of the city that otherwise has little access to it.
“These are neighborhoods where there’s people who want to do well, but they just don’t have a lot of choices,” she said. “I think it’s really important to get kids eating well, and just knowing what’s available.”
In addition to the 40 beds, the plans drawn up by local firm SOSH Architects include a playground, grill, a gazebo and a small amphitheater. Till previously sponsored a community garden at the church, but it was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.
Rather than offer the new plots to community members for personal use, Till has enlisted a group of “stewards” to care for the garden. The plans for the crops are uncertain, but possibilities include distributing them in exchange or garden work, using them for educational cooking demonstrations or a combination of the two.
Atlantic City Police Deputy Chief Bill Mazur said the department was eager to help Till with the project, as it will be a benefit to the community they serve.
“Public safety jumped at that for a number of reasons,” Mazur said. “Number one, to give back to the community, number two, the police department and fire department, there’s a great communal spirit...and (Till), she’s a great supporter of Atlantic City projects.”
Firefighters Chris Emmell and Bill DeLorenzo organized the fire department’s participation.
The project also has the support of the city, which donated some ipe wood as material for the beds. The hardy wood is the same type used on the Boardwalk, Till said.
Work began at about 8 a.m. and will end at about 2 p.m., depending on the group’s progress. Work will continue Tuesday until the project is finished.