For the first time, OLMC All Stars Afterschool Program received a collaborative grant from the NJ Healthy Communities Network (NJHCN) in partnership with Project U.S.E. to build a permanent garden for the school.

The NJHCN Community Grants Program brings together local, regional and statewide leaders to support communities in developing healthy environments for people to live, work, learn and play. Project U.S.E. is a great example of an organization that helps people develop healthy environments. For over 40 years Project U.S.E. has been enriching the educational experiences of students all over New Jersey through experiential learning opportunities based in nature that awaken curiosity, instill confidence, teach ethics and build character.

This spring at OLMC, Project U.S.E. deployed its super friendly and informative staff to teach our Garden Squad students how to build an urban garden from scratch.  In preparation for the project, students started cultivating vegetables in class to prepare for the spring planting. The Garden Squad is growing tomatoes, squash, blueberries, basil and more. As of June, the garden is blooming with beautiful colors!

“A study from Rutgers Cooperative Extension, Learning Through the Garden, shows that gardens can function as living laboratories. Students who participate in gardening have a considerable increase in grade point average, utilize new learning styles, and develop their perspectives and ways of learning to incorporate critical 21st-century skills such as “curiosity, flexibility, open-mindedness, informed skepticism, creativity, and critical thinking.” — from the article “Garden-Based Learning” by Kristin Stayer for Edutopia.

The garden will be maintained year round by our Garden Squad class. They are looking forward to harvesting their goods in the fall too.

Check out the fun on Instagram @OLMCAllStars to see the students in action! 

For more about Project U.S.E., visit

For more about NJ Healthy Communities Network, visit


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