Neighbor Spotlight: Robert Beatty III
One of the great matches at Kula Urban Farm last year was bringing on Asbury Park native Robert Beatty, III to help build and manage the Farm Without Borders on Springwood Avenue.
Beatty, who is 30, grew up just three blocks to the west on Springwood where his father Robert Beatty Jr. owns a building with a restaurant, barbershop and apartments. His dad taught him to be an entrepreneur, but also to give as much to the community as he could, the younger Beatty says.
Beatty came on board with Interfaith Neighbors in March 2017 through Kula Farm’s work experience program where residents can be paid for up 60 work hours at the farm. Fifteen residents completed the program so far and several, including Beatty, continued to long-term, part-time jobs at the farm.
Beatty also has been able to help staff Kula’s Farm to Table dinners at the greenhouse, a type of work that relates to his other job as a supervisor for a catering business at Monmouth Race Track.
“He’s been very consistent at work and has such a great personality,” says Lisa Bagwell, who with Thijs van Oosterhout, manages Interfaith’s year-round Kula Urban Farm and oversees the Farm Without Borders program. “He’s been good at bringing people into the farm. He’s very welcoming.”
Beatty says that when he first started helping to create the Farm Without Borders located on land Interfaith owns across from Kula Café, people in the neighborhood couldn’t understand what he was doing working in a vacant lot.
“I felt we were helping the community,” Beatty says. “This is an area that has known a lot of negativity and now that you have a garden smack in the middle of it, it’s a positive.”
“We help a lot of people with vegetables, and give them seeds to start their own gardens,” Beatty said. “All the food that’s grown is free. We want people to stop by and get vegetables to cook and eat.”
The farm has expanded from the original lot to nearly three times in size courtesy of Monmouth Elks Lodge No. 122 which owned the adjacent property.
“We get our water from the city fire department, which we really appreciate, and try to keep good relationships with everyone,” Beatty said. “This was just a random dirt parking lot,” he added in a rather proud way standing in the midst of the flourishing summer garden. “We’re open to all and take what you need,” he said.
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