Heidi Dolan and Jen Barone with Community Garden photos. Dolan was a close friend of Alice King who conceived the idea for the garden before her death in 2011. Credits: By Jane Primerano
A table full of goodies for people and pets at the fund raiser at Pavinci's. Credits: By Jane Primerano
Jen Barone of the Community Garden and Wendy Ciardi of the Pound Project joined forces for a fundraiser for their two groups. Credits: By Jane Primerano
Two Groups Join for Fundraiser
Wednesday, July 11, 2012 • 9:27am
HOPATCONG, NJ – Pavinci Italian Grill overlooking Lake Hopatcong was packed with more than the usual diners on Tuesday, July 10 as two local groups held a joint fundraiser.
The Hopatcong Pound Project and Hopatcong Community Garden held a wine and artisan liquor tasting to raise funds for their projects.
Wendy Ciardi, president of the Pound Project, explained the borough’s 55-year-old pound is in “pretty bad shape” and receives no tax dollars to run it. The “project” in Pound Project is to build a new building.
The decision to take that step came two years ago after the death of Kelly VanOrden, a borough resident and dog lover. Her husband, Ed, wanted to do something with the vacation money they had saved up before her death and decided to donate it to the pound.
Ciardi explained, “The last thing Kelly said to me was ‘take care of the girls', meaning her two dogs.”
Jen Barone of the Community Garden explained the two groups got together almost by accident.
“People tend to think we’re a garden club,” she said. “And the Pound Project folks asked us if we could plant some flowers around their building, We explained that’s not what we do, but that started a partnership.”
The community garden consists of 47 plots on a sunny lot off Bell Avenue. All plots are gardened at a donation of $25 each per year. The plots are 10 x 12 or 10 x 14. There are two handicapped accessible plots and a kids’ plot, Barone explained.
The garden is all organic and provides a place to garden for residents who have very small or steep lots or have limited sun.
“I have no sun at all,” said Renee Major who was selling roses at the fundraiser.
She finds the garden a perfect antidote to running a busy business.
The garden has deer fencing and the plots are separated by wood, Barone explained.
When asked what the funds raised would go to, Barone said, “we haven’t got a water bill yet.”
This is the first year for the garden which started, like the pound project, after a tragedy.
“The idea was started in April 2011 by Alice King,” Barone said. After King was killed in a motorcycle accident in October 2011 her friends and family wanted to start the garden in her memory.
The borough gave the group the land, but provides no other assistance.
Besides providing healthy food, the garden has enhanced the sense of community, Barone said. “We have a Facebook page, a website and a private chat group,” she said, adding she is learning a lot about organic gardening.
The garden is successful in its first year, with only one problem.
“We have a groundhog,” Barone said.
Ciardi said the decision to combine the two groups for a fundraiser was on “a little short notice.”
The pound project did a wine tasting in April and believed they would attract more people if the groups were combined.
It worked, according to Ed VanOrdan, who said there were 135 people at the tasting.
Besides wine, the guests were tasting Mediterranean Fig Flavored Vodka from Figenza Vodka and certified organic tequila from Talero.
Both groups had other items for sale, roses for the garden, and mugs full of candy kisses and t-shirts for the pound. The pound also sold its own designer cupcakes, made for them by Jeanne Verbel of The Scrumptious Cup Cakery in Flanders. The cupcakes were of black and white Russian pound case with a Kahlua frosting. They sold out promptly.
The foundation of the pound is in and rough plumbing is complete, Ciardi said.
She said the group receives lots of volunteer labor and was awarded a Lowe's Heroes award from three stores.
Final plans for the building are still in flux, but Ciardi said, “The most important thing is we will have a quarantine and intake room.”
She said separating dogs and cats make it easier to prepare the animals for their “forever” home.
Cats and kittens are overrunning the pound, Animal Control Officer Dale Sloat said.
He said the traditional Lake Hopatcong problem, summer residents getting a pet then dumping it as they return to the city, “doesn’t happen here,” because they know he will catch them.
Still, abandoned dogs are a problem.
Sloat said black dogs are harder to place than others because of the sense they are more menacing, left by the sight of bright white teeth against a black face.
He also confirmed certain breeds are harder to place.
“Pit Bulls are the sweetest dogs,” he said. “They have strong jaws. A Chihuahua will bite you 12 times and not do any damage.”
Both Pound Project and the Community Garden are planning a presence at Hopatcong Days on Saturday, July 14, and future fund raisers.