For South Jersey residents, New Jersey is truly the Garden State

New Jersey’s designation as the Garden State rings truest to the residents of its southern region, where bird sanctuaries, nature conservancies, wooded lands and – of course – gardens abound. A partnership between the SJI Green Team, an employee resource group at SJI committed to empowering the company’s employees to support the creation of a more sustainable environment through civic engagement, and the environmental organization C.R.O.P.S. (Communities Revolutionizing Open Public Spaces) helps to bring new meaning to this age-old moniker.

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C.R.O.P.S. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that builds healthy and connected communities through education and advocacy. In addition to operating several SNAP, WIC and WIC/Senior FMNP accessible farmer’s markets throughout Atlantic County, the nonprofit also maintains five community gardens: Sister Jean’s Garden and Covenant House Garden in Atlantic City; ARC Community Garden and ARC Residents’ Garden in Egg Harbor Township; and The Egg Harbor City Community Garden. 

The SJI Green Team and C.R.O.P.S. began their partnership last August at a volunteer event in Sister Jean’s Garden. In addition to donating 17 bags of soil, team members helped clear out, winterize and prepare the grounds for the upcoming growing season. SJI’s Employee Resource Group found common cause with the nonprofit due to their shared mission of creating sustainable outcomes for local communities. 

team photo“All of us live within a community that impacts our surrounding environment, and often a hands-on approach is the final link that connects the dots on how to make small adjustments to live a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle,” said Caitlin Bast, Green Team co-chair. “We at the SJI Green Team want to help employees and community members make this connection through education via accessible, hands-on opportunities.”

They also assisted with renovating the C.R.O.P.S. Store in Atlantic City, which held its grand opening last October. More recently, the group sponsored members to attend C.R.O.P.S.’ Farm-to-Fork Fundraiser. Held at Rhythm & Spirits, the event included a four-course meal prepared by executive chef Kevin Cronin using locally sourced fruits and vegetables, many of which were grown by C.R.O.P.S. 

“Having the support of regular volunteerism from the employees of large companies like SJI really moved the needle forward in what we were able to accomplish in 2022. Being a small team and a very grassroots organization, having that many extra helping hands allowed us to finish projects in record time which is vital because the goals C.R.O.P.S. has in the communities we serve are things that should have been given back and established in these communities years ago. It also helps the SJI Green Team understands the importance of what we do and how heavily food ties into the overall conversation around sustainability in our communities,” said Alicia Newcomb, executive director of C.R.O.P.S.

team photoThis year the Green Team looks forward to maintaining its relationship with C.R.O.P.S. and building new partnerships that will continue to promote community and sustainability within the Garden State. In celebration of Earth Month, the SJI Green Team plans to volunteer at Stockton University’s “Community Day Party and Cleanup,” marking the second year the Employee Resource Group will participate in the annual city-wide street and beach cleanup of Atlantic City. The team’s members will also participate in a roadside cleanup with The Nature Conservancy of New Jersey at Maurice River Bluffs Nature Preserve in Millville. Later this month, the Green Team will co-host a “Dig-in and Learn” event with SJI’s damage prevention team to showcase how underground damage prevention can apply to environmental restoration.

“One of the Green Team’s main goals is to support the local communities in which we operate,” said Margo Carr, Green Team co-chair. “This is just the beginning, and we are looking forward to expanding the opportunities we provide to SJI.”

About SJI

SJI (NYSE: SJI), an energy services holding company based in Folsom, NJ, delivers energy services to its customers through three primary subsidiaries. SJI Utilities, SJI’s regulated natural gas utility business, delivers safe, reliable, affordable natural gas to approximately 700,000 South Jersey Gas and Elizabethtown Gas customers in New Jersey. SJI’s non-utility businesses within South Jersey Energy Solutions promote efficiency, clean technology and renewable energy by providing customized wholesale commodity marketing and fuel management services; and developing, owning and operating on-site energy production facilities. SJI Midstream houses the company’s interest in the PennEast Pipeline Project. Visit for more information about SJI and its subsidiaries.

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