Longbranch is ready to welcome a new community garden. What began as piece of land riddled with blackberry bushes, shrubs and trash has been developed into a budding garden for the community to enjoy. Located at the Longbranch Improvement Club, the garden began its development last year and is now into a projected three-year plan for completion.
The idea for the project came from David Shinners, a member of the Longbranch Improvement Club who saw an opportunity for the club to become more visible to the public.
“I started realizing that we do a lot of great things in the Longbranch Improvement Club, but nobody sees them because they’re in the building … and I started thinking that we need more things that people can physically see as they’re driving by so that if they don’t know about Longbranch, they can kind of see what’s going on,” Shinners said.
The Longbranch Improvement Club, founded in 1921 as a means to encourage the betterment of the community through volunteer effort, recently marked its centennial anniversary last December, though the festivities continue into August . The club focuses on the improvement of roads, schools, public safety and public service projects.
The garden is meant to promote a sense of neighborhood and community in Longbranch while creating opportunities to educate those who know little about horticulture or sustainability, and for people to simply enjoy.
“When people think of a community garden, they automatically go to one type of community garden. I’m not even sure community garden is the right term; it’s a multi-purpose outdoor garden activity,” Shinners said.
The area is set to go through phases of development that include construction of spaces large enough to hold events such as weddings or small enough for people to gather for coffee or dinner.
“We cleaned it all up, but it’s big enough that you could have sections almost like rooms. There’s a circle up front where you can do activities, and we’re building this kind of expanse at the back right now where you can have things like a dinner or a wedding reception,” Shinners said.
The idea was inspired by a combination of circumstances, including a lack of places to safely gather following COVID-19.
“I thought, well, we could create a garden, where people could kind of gather a community to a true community place,” Shinners said.
The garden is projected to be fully developed and operational for the enjoyment of all by 2024.
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