One of these posters, made by the town's school children for the firemen during Fire Prevention Week, lists what the students thought firemen did all day. Topping the list were sleep and eat.
Gardening was not mentioned at all. But the firemen at Engine 10 have been planting their own vegetables since the early 1900s.
"You can grow everything here," said Firefighter Bill Renner, who has been on the job for 19 years.
The garden has seen everything from tomatoes and basil to grapevines and five-foot tall cornstalks.
These vegetables do not only find their way to the firemen's tables, but are also distributed throughout the community.
"He feeds the community," said Brian Cosentino, a fireman for 14 years, about Renner, who gives vegetables to the neighboring businesses and residents.
"We grow too much to consume ourselves or even to bring home," said Chris Sissick, a 15-year veteran of the fire department. "If we don't give them away, they will just rot."
Back in time
The garden began in the early 1920s when horses responded to fires.
"Each set of guys that came on the job just kept it going," said Renner.
Renner explained that the soil was fertilized with horse manure, as well as elephant manure picked up from the Clyde-Beaty Circus when it was featured at Palisades Park, an amusement park that closed in the late '60s. "It is so fertile," said Renner about the soil. "This year we really didn't have to fertilize it much."
However, Sissick said, "The biggest reason why the garden is so nice is because it catches the morning sun." Now, the soil gets very little treatment to grow its vegetables. It gets some grass clippings and a little Miracle Grow.
"The grass clippings keep the ground moist," said Sissick. "It also keeps the weeds from growing."
The firemen begin planting right after Mother's Day. "That is when the threat of frost is over," said Cosentino. Often, firemen will be seen tending to the garden as early as 5:30 or 6 a.m.
"Basically we've got it covered between the four shifts," said Sissick, who explained that it is mostly just weeding and watering that needs to be done.
"The worst thing is if it rains too much," said Sissick. "Then the roots get rotten or moldy."
The garden will usually last until almost November. After everything dies, the firemen turn the soil and begin planning for the following year.
Too many vegetables
"We tried everything, I think," said Renner. "We even tried pumpkins one year." However, they found out that they needed a lot of land to grow pumpkins.
"Most of this is trial and error," said Sissick, adding that they also tried to grow carrots and onions. The firemen agreed that they weren't giving up on the pumpkins, carrots or onions. "Sometimes it takes a year or two to perfect something," said Sissick.
Corn is the perfect example. One year, Cosentino said that they were growing cow corn, corn grown for cows to eat. He added that they only found out because a resident came by and told them.
"This has been our most successful year for corn," said Cosentino. "It was the sweetest white corn we've ever had."
The community takes a large interest in the garden. Sissick explained that one resident came to them with a Dixie cup filled with 14 seeds for tomato plants. "Every one of those seeds grew," said Cosentino.
Next year, the firemen said they might try strawberries.
"We should get into dessert stuff," said Renner.