Spaces to Places

Transforming Public Spaces into Vibrant Places for the Community.

REALTORS® Plant Roots with the Boys and Girls Club of Trenton

Written by Erin McFeeters, Content Coordinator, New Jersey REALTORS®

What was once a vacant lot on Centre Street in Trenton, New Jersey is now an educational community garden for the Boys and Girls Club.

Entrance to the Boys and Girls Club in Mercer County, NJ featuring a colorful fence made of bicycle parts.

New Jersey REALTORS®

The Boys and Girls Club of Mercer County offers countless indoor activities and programs for children, however, they struggled to have outside play time because of the lack of safe parks and outside areas in the city. The club acquired a vacant lot across the street from their Trenton location with the goal of transforming the parcel into an educational garden so children in their programs could learn and thrive in an outdoor environment.

Two men walking in a mulch pathway surrounded by trees and plants in the Boys and Girls Club's garden.

New Jersey REALTORS®

In 2016, NAR President Tom Salomone announced a partnership with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. President Salomone knew Boys and Girls Clubs, like Realtors®, are a part of the fabric that makes up every community across the nation.

A black and a white car parked right outside the Boys & Girls Club building.

New Jersey REALTORS®

The NJ Realtors® Housing Opportunity Foundation had worked with the Boys and Girls Club on previous initiatives and took special interest when they learned about the Garden Project. The foundation then donated $5,000 towards the cause plus pursued a $5,000 Placemaking Grant through NAR for a small library to add to the garden project plans. Additionally, NJ Realtors® commemorated their first anniversary in their Trenton Headquarters by donating $5,000 to the project.

Large rectangular plant beds in front of a pavillion with people talking, a tank to recycle rain water coming from the gutters.

New Jersey REALTORS®

“It’s important as Realtors® to get involved in the communities we work and live in,” said New Jersey Realtors® Housing Opportunity President Christina Clemans. “Trenton is our state capital and children in the city deserve somewhere safe to learn and grow.”

NJ Realtors® recently launched a consumer campaign titled Plant Roots with a Realtor®. The campaign has a goal of explaining the benefits of using a Realtor® because it’s more than a house—it’s a community, a neighborhood, and a place to roots. In April, the NJ Realtors® Housing Opportunity Foundation took this initiative to the most literal level when the Trustees, NJ Realtors® 2019 President Ilene Horowitz, and NJ Realtors® staff members made their way to the Boys and Girls Club to volunteer.

Two women standing right next to the little library and a plaque stating the little library was donated by the NJ REALTORS.

New Jersey REALTORS®

Under the direction of the Trenton Boys and Girls Club President and CEO David Anderson and Facility Director Rickey Woods, volunteers built raised garden beds, paved an entrance path, installed raspberry trellises, painted, and put together a small library to house books about gardening and nature.

Four people with shovels and one woman holding a piece of wood next to a few sand bags.

New Jersey REALTORS®

Just a month later the club held their official ribbon cutting ceremony. Children from the community, Trenton City Council members, donors, NJ Realtors® Housing Opportunity Foundation Trustees, and NJ Realtors® staff members attended to see the unveiling of the newest addition to their community.

Several people standing inside the pavillion next to a man holding the scissors during the ribbon cutting ceremony.

New Jersey REALTORS®

When you arrive at the garden entrance the colorful fence made of bicycle parts created by Boys and Girls Club bicycle program coordinator, Wills Kinsley, immediately catches your eye. The outdoor space now consists of educational areas including a library and growing area, a pavilion with bleachers, a storage shed for gardening tools, gardening beds to plant fruits and vegetables, and a play area with space for soccer.

A fence made of colorful bicycle parts with the little library featured in the background.

New Jersey REALTORS®

In addition, they created a native plant forest to teach children about what naturally grows in New Jersey’s climate and a rain garden for children to have hands-on experience with conserving natural resources.

Children of Trenton will now have the opportunity to enjoy outdoor activities in a safe environment, plus learn about plants, animals, insects, and gardening throughout the process.

NJ Realtors® Housing Opportunity Foundation is proud to collaborate with the Boys and Girls Club of Mercer County and looks forward to continually investing in community projects across the state.

A selfie featuring two women smiling pointing to a gardening bed in the back.

New Jersey REALTORS®


Community Outreach Programs

Housing Opportunity Grant
Housing Opportunity Grants support state and local REALTOR® Associations’ affordable housing activities. The goal of the program is to position REALTORS® as leaders in improving their communities by creating affordable housing

Smart Growth Grant
Smart growth is an approach to development that encourages a mix of building types and uses, diverse housing and transportation options, development within existing neighborhoods, and community engagement. The Smart Growth Program offers state and local REALTOR® Associations to way to engage with government officials, community partners and the general public in planning and designing community’s future.

Planned diversity initiatives makes good business sense. REALTOR® Associations with well-planned diversity programs create a stronger sense of community, particularly in neighborhoods with high concentrations of foreign-born and minority residents who are moving up the socioeconomic ladder and are buying homes.

NAR Placemaking Resources

Placemaking Guide: A Guide to Transform a Public Space into a Community Place
REALTORS® and state and local association staff can learn the details of Placemaking, the kinds of projects placemaking entails, how to organize them, and where to go for assistance and resources.

Placemaking Webinar Series
Our Placemaking Webinar Series will provide more in depth information on the various types of Placemaking and how REALTORS® were involved in Placemaking activities in their communities.

Placemaking Grant
The Placemaking Grant funds the creation of new public spaces, like pocket parks, trails & gardens, in a community. The grant focuses on “lighter, cheaper, quicker” placemaking projects, which can be built under a year and cost less  than $200,000.

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Smart Growth

The healthier a community, the better the environment for REALTORS®. Keeping a community attractive, livable and functioning well is a complex task.