The history of Newark SAS

by Patrick Song, Sustainability Intern ’21

Newark Science and Sustainability, Inc. (Newark SAS) first began in 2012 with the idea of making Newark a self-sustaining community. In the past decade, through the help and support of over a hundred volunteers and non-profit partners, we have been able to transform this idea into a well-established grassroots organization that has provided food access, community engagement, and educational opportunities to thousands of individuals. 

The story of Newark Science and Sustainability must begin with the community gardens. Newark City Hall offered vacant lots throughout the city as part of the Adopt-a-Lot program. Newark SAS gained the land for its community gardens through this program, and the first People’s Garden (86 Garside St.) would officially open in 2012.

Our success is owed entirely to the help of community members and volunteers who gave their time and energy to make their city more eco-friendly and healthy. Our volunteers came from all walks of life. Some volunteers were college students, others were long-standing community members, and there were some who just wanted to do some good and found a positive outlet in our organization. In 2013, the second People’s Garden (478 Crawford St.) was created. As with the first community garden, our organization and volunteers were able to convert the dirt lot into a vibrant garden for the entire community to enjoy and share. We repeated the same process with the Garden of Hope (3-7 Fairmount Ave.) in 2015.

While the community gardens are the heart of Newark Science and Sustainability, we have also started a variety of initiatives aimed at raising awareness for environmental, ecological, and wellness issues. A comprehensive history can be seen through our Newark Science and Sustainability Facebook page. For instance, in 2017, we offered a yoga course to promote exercise and wellness, and in 2018, we gave away Halloween pumpkins for children. Every year starting from 2017, Newark SAS has offered a free summer program that teaches the youth how they can help create a healthy, sustainable community. We also partner with other Newark-based organizations to host the Annual City-Wide Garden Tour and Annual Community Meal. In 2018, Newark Science and Sustainability introduced a new program that would expand our impact on our communities. The Farm to Table Co-op or community supported agriculture program (CSA), is an innovative way to re-contextualize food availability in Newark. Through this program, we allow Newark to feed itself and bring the community closer to its food. With financial support from foundations, private donors, government agencies, and the help of volunteers, we harvest produce from community gardens and local farms to distribute to Newark community members every week. 

Our latest project has also been our most ambitious. For the past four years, we have been working on the redevelopment of our Garden of Hope, one refitted with a hydroponic greenhouse and commercial kitchen. The hydroponic greenhouse provides the needed infrastructure to meet the needs of urban agriculture, and the commercial kitchen provides a new innovative model for a non-profit, sustainable community hub that emphasizes the ideals of wellness, environmentalism, and urban agriculture that Newark Science and Sustainability works to embody.

Be sure to visit our community urban farm:

Headquarters & Urban Agricultural Hub
3-7 Fairmount Avenue, Newark, NJ 07107

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