Donation challenge met; roof becoming reality
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — In late 2015, the same year as the 250th anniversary of the founding of Rutgers University, an anonymous patron of the popular Rutgers Gardens Farm Market pledged $150,000 to build a permanent structure for vendors at the gathering.
His challenge was that other patrons and friends of the market donate another $150,000 to build the structure.
They met the challenge, and earlier this spring, construction began on the permanent structure, which can house up to 18 vendors.
Some vendors said they prefer to remain outside.
The market is held Friday afternoons on the Cook campus off Ryders Lane in New Brunswick during the season.
For the 2018 season, the market is now equipped with better signage on Ryders Lane for traffic heading to nearby Route 1 northbound and southbound.
The donor “appreciates the market and appreciates the value of a structure like this, because not only does it house and protect the farm market vendors, but as you drive by, it brings attention to the gardens,” said Rutgers Gardens Director Dr. Bruce Crawford on a recent Friday afternoon in June.
Because it will have a green roof with soil and native plants to encourage pollinators, extra reinforcement was needed to hold up the roof through a series of steel pillars.
“This structure is now a statement that says, ‘there is something going on here,’” Crawford said, noting the new permanent structure is expected to be totally completed by mid-July.
“Given that it’s an entrance to the Rutgers Gardens, we thought the building should be as garden-esque as possible, so we’ll have about seven inches of soil on the roof and in it, we’ll have various native plants that are beneficial to our native pollinators, bats and beneficial insects in order to attract all of them,” Crawford said of the green-roofed structure.
The anonymous donor, a loyal patron according to Crawford, was trying to attract other donors and stimulate more interest in the Gardens.
“So as the RU Gardens continue to develop, this is something that will support that process and hopefully continue with the future of the gardens and its development,” Crawford said.
Approval was granted by the City of New Brunswick in fairly short order and the $300,000 cost should prove to be a good investment in the future of the Rutgers Gardens Farm Market, Crawford added.
Vendors at the Friday market include Unionville Vineyards, Chickadee Creek Farm, Alstede Farms, Fruitwood Farms, South Town Farms, Local 130 Seafood Company and Neshanic Valley Honey.
“It will have it’s own power source, because right now, one of our challenges is a lot of our vendors have to bring in generators. They can be annoying to patrons of the market,” Crawford said.
“We’re not solar powered yet, but that is in our plans for the future,” he added, noting the permanent green roof structure will protect people from sun and wind, “and since it’s grounded, people will be protected from electric storms.
“There have been times over the past 10 years when vendors and everybody else had to get out of their booths and into their vans and trucks during thunderstorms.”
The facility is always on the lookout for new vendors, Crawford said, and farmers and food producers offering unique produce or goods are encouraged to fill out an application online.
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