071214 FH garden SkoeMaster gardener Cindy Skoe in the Fair Haven Community Garden. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)


070614 FH garden signAmong the plots in Fair Haven’s community garden is an area with two small signs. One reads “UMW,” and  the other declares that Master Gardeners worked here.

The UMW stands for United Methodist Women, from United Methodist Church on Broad Street in Red Bank. The master gardener is UMW member Cindy Skoe, who along with five other gardeners from the group, is growing vegetables with the intent of sharing half the bounty with Lunch Break in Red Bank.

“They have a program on Tuesdays to drop off produce.” Skoe said, adding, “They are very excited to get whatever one can bring.”

The Eatontown resident took the the Master Gardener course through Rutgers cooperative extension program in 2011. “You learn everything from soil testing, garden pests, diseases to trees and flowers,” she says.

But while it sounds like it’s heavy on the technical aspects of growing things,  the program “is basically about volunteering,” says Skoe. “We do school programs, and help other gardeners in community gardens.”

Filling grocery store bags on a recent visit, she picked two varieties of peppers, zucchini, purple vine beans, and tomatoes, all destined for the Red Bank soup kitchen.

“It’s been great weather for the gardens this year.” she said, “Everything is growing really well.”