Ever since programs for adults with special needs were moved to The Commons in Cherry Hill, educators with Jewish Family and Children’s Service have envisioned creating a garden in the courtyard. The idea was not only to teach clients how to plant and harvest fruits and vegetables and reinforce healthy eating habits, but also to eventually provide fresh produce for the Soups & Sweets culinary training program. Now, thanks to Boy Scout Jacob Goldsborough, the dream has become a reality.
Jacob and his crew of enthusiastic scouts from Troop 70 constructed raised garden beds in an under-utilized patch of courtyard that will count as his Eagle Scout project. Within days, participants of the To Our Positive Success (TOPS) adult day program got to work planting lettuce, spinach and other fall produce.
Jacob was very close with his grandfather Steven Sloan, a special-needs educator in Gloucester Township. Sloan passed away before the program came to fruition, but he knew of Jacob’s plans, according to his mother Debbie Goldsborough, who teaches to a similar population at Lenape High School.
“It’s just wonderful,” adds TOPS supervisor Amy Block. “I have a few of them who want to get into the garden every day. It was such good timing when Jacob came along offering his services.”
Although Jacob’s hands are more attuned to playing trumpet and drums in Eastern High School musical ensembles, he spent months planning the garden and soliciting donations from local businesses, family and friends. Leonberg Nursery in Moorestown came through with the soil; the wood was donated by Peter Lumber Company in Medford.
Many participants of TOPS were excited by the prospect of having a garden: they showed it by presenting Jacob with dozens of thank-you cards, including one from a participant who wrote: “We LOVE cooking with the vegetables that you planted for us. Make the community strong and never let that dream down.”
“It was a fantastic project, and I couldn’t have asked for a better team,” Jacob says. “It feels good to give back to the Jewish and special needs communities.”