Garden State Urban Farms was officially formed in the Spring of 2009, however its origins run much further than that. Founder Lorraine Gibbons spent years working with schools and organizations in Northern New Jersey, including Seth Boyden Elementary and Tuscan Elementary, developing edible gardens and accompanying curriculums. In 2008, with former partner John Taylor, Lorraine secured a lease on a half-acre lot in the Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District in Newark. Met with a few initial challenges, including that the lot was destined to eventually become developed and there was limited space, an innovative solution was sought. BCUF found growing containers that increased yields and made watering and weeding a breeze, called Earthboxes. This also meant that they could be moved to another lot, or even on rooftops or asphalt! The Earthbox technology was coupled with a Small Plot Intensive (SPIN) farming method that has previously been pioneered in a few urban centers. SPIN farming focuses on growing diversified and high quality produce on limited land.
The first season, planned as a demonstration garden, was met with greater success than could have been imagined. Volunteers poured in from neighboring Integrity House and were invaluable in initially setting up, and then maintaining the farm throughout the summer. Earthbox came to Newark and were enthralled with everything we were doing as well as the future possibilities. Opportunities presented themselves in neighboring urban areas, outside of Newark. With a myriad of interested and interesting groups looking to work with us, Brick City Urban Farms restructured as Garden State Urban Farms (GSUF) in early 2009.