Project Citizen Gardener

Project Citizen Gardener

Help us combat food insecurity in our own backyard using yours!

Lunch Break’s Project Citizen Gardener welcomes home gardeners and students of any age who wish to grow fresh produce on our behalf and accrue school service hours.

Project Citizen Gardener Grow Guide PRINTABLE VERSION

PCG Student Service Hours Form

While the rise of food costs have skyrocketed, so have the numbers of guests that visit our pantry and dining room each week. One of Lunch Break’s biggest expenses is fresh produce — and your generous efforts in growing and donating fresh vegetables help to drive down our costs. As a result, we initiated Project Citizen Gardener to encourage local gardeners to participate in helping us to provide the poundage of produce that we need.

STEP ONE: Grow Vegetables

Growing food in your own backyard is a rewarding experience on many levels. Your participation with Project Citizen Gardener not only produces personal satisfaction and self sufficiency, but also helps to feed individuals and families who need it most. Like most things in life, gardening is an activity that gets easier with time, dedication, and practice – so don’t give up!

Here’s what you’ll need to start a garden, the vegetable varieties that our guests love, as well as some tips and things to look out for when growing food:

  1. PLANTS & SEEDS: Can be purchased at a garden center or online. We recommend choosing organic/ non-GMO plants & seeds if they’re available. Please read on to learn about varieties our guests love.
  2. GROWING SPACE: Whether you have an established garden with raised beds & fencing (critical for deer) or containers in your yard, almost anything can be fabricated for growing vegetables. Do some research and get creative!
  3. GOOD SOIL: Having excellent soil quality is the first step to successful gardening. The Master Nursery Bumper Crop is one of the best bagged soil products to amend/ boost soil nutrients for healthy plants. It can be found at select plant and garden centers. If looking for excellent soil in bulk, Molzon’s in Lincroft carries and delivers mushroom compost by the yard. It’s used in a lot of local community gardens and is the perfect medium for growing superior vegetables.
  4. WATER and SUNLIGHT: Having ample water and sunlight are critical for plants to thrive. Every plant has different requirements so make sure to do research on plant needs so you know what to expect.

Veggies and Varieties that Lunch Break Guests Love:

  • Collard Greens
  • Swiss Chard
  • Kale:
    • Lacinato
    • Curly
  • Cabbage:
    • Green
    • Red
    • Napa
  • Radishes
    • Watermelon
    • Daikon
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Carrots
  • Beets
  • Green Beans
  • Lettuces:
    • Mesclun
    • Romaine
    • Butterhead
  • Arugula
  • Raddichio
  • Spinach
  • Fennel
  • Scallions
  • Green beans
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant:
    • Black Beauty
    • Japanese
  • Tomatoes:
    • Cherry
    • Slicer
    • Beefsteak
    • Heirloom
  • Tomatillos
  • Peppers:
    • Jalapeno
    • Poblano
    • Bell
    • Shishito
  • Summer Squash:
    • Zucchini
    • Yellow
  • Melons:
    • Watermelon
    • Cantaloupes
    • Honeydew

**Note: Bolded items are kitchen and pantry favorites

Eastern Monmouth County (Zone 7B) Vegetable Growing Timeline

Eastern Monmouth County (Zone 7B) Vegetable growing Timeline

Tools and Tips:

  • Greens and root vegetables are best started from SEED. Carefully follow the directions on the packet — It’s easier than you think!
  • PLANT NATIVE FLOWERS for bees & other beneficial pollinators. They’ll help protect your veggie plants from pests.
  • Using organic pesticides like BT and NEEM OIL will save your plants from caterpillars and other pests – Try to spray plants at least once a week for maintenance.
  • WEEDS come with the territory. Try stay on top of them before they get out of hand and your plants begin to suffer.

STEP TWO: Preparing Produce

If you’ve made it to this step, congratulations! You’ve successfully grown your own food. Vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, summer squash, and eggplant are pretty much ready to go once they’re picked. However other veggies, like carrots and lettuce, need a little more preparation before they’re ready to donate.

Washing Veggies:

  • GREENS: Once thoroughly washed, greens remain fresher and store more
    easily on our shelves if the bottom of stems or base of plant is put in bag or
    container with a small amount of water. This also applies to fennel & beets!
  • ROOTS: Carrots, beets, and radishes require some scrubbing to fully remove
    dirt. Using a scrub brush will make it easier – having your friends or family to
    help wash is helpful too! Lunch Break appreciates removal of carrot tops for
    the purpose of space in the pantry.
  • PACKAGING: Use whatever you have on hand to package fresh produce. If
    you are reusing an old box, bag, or container, just make sure it is clean
    and sanitary. Some examples of things to package food are: used fruit
    containers, cardboard boxes, and supermarket produce bags.

STEP 3: Drop Off Your Produce Donation


Lunch Break | Food Donation | Hours of Operation

Food Donation
10am - 2pm
10am - 2pm
10am - 2pm
10am - 2pm
10am - 2pm
10am - 12pm

Cleaned and washed produce can be delivered to:

Lunch Break Building

Lunch Break
121 Drs. James Parker Boulevard, Red Bank, NJ 07701

Please drive around to the back of our building via Norma Todd Way. Park in the spaces directly across from the building and come to the Donation Room. Your “Gift” will then be recorded in our Donation Book and at that time, you will get a receipt for your records. If you are a student accruing service hours, you can present your signed service hour form for your school and Lunch Break.

For more information, contact:
Bonnie –
Gabbie –

Thank you for helping Lunch Break make a difference to those who need it most.