Every March, the Belmar Magical Garden volunteers come together for a spring cleanup day to prepare the raised planting beds, organize the greenhouse, and sow organic seeds that will grow into this summer’s harvest.
The garden and greenhouse are nestled behind Mitzi and Emily’s Playground on the corner of 15th Avenue and E Street in Belmar, New Jersey.
"The community garden is an opportunity for residents to learn about organic gardening and can serve as a model for them to use in their own gardens or, for those who do not have a place for a garden, it provides an opportunity for them to garden," says long-time volunteer Carol Davies, pictured below in the greenhouse.
"We grow a variety of vegetables," she adds, "which we strive to grow organically, and always enjoy trying something new each year. This year, we are planting various greens, green beans, peas, onions, summer squash, radishes, carrots, beets, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant, kale, and more." RELATED: Best Playgrounds And Parks In Belmar
The Belmar Magical Garden season begins with a breakfast and planning meeting the first Saturday in March and ends with a wrap-up meeting in late fall. Every Saturday morning throughout the growing season, members of the gardening group take a hands-on role in planting, watering, and maintaining the vegetables, flower beds, fruit shrubs, and herbs. The group meets weekly from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m.
A to-do list of gardening activities is maintained in the greenhouse for members who cannot attend the Saturday morning sessions so they may provide their weekly hour of service as their schedule permits. In addition, garden members assist with tasks such as preparing the garden layout, maintaining the compost pile, ordering seeds, building new planting beds, organizing popcorn fund-raisers at free movie night on Belmar beach, and other responsibilities.
At harvest time, all the community garden members share in the bounty of their efforts, with everyone taking home a share of the fresh produce, herbs, fruit, and flowers to enjoy. RELATED: Making Perfect Matches At MidAtlantic Bulldog Rescue
The Belmar Environmental Commission is the sponsoring municipal entity of the Belmar Magical Garden, which opened in spring 2000 as an outgrowth of the playground that was built on a vacant piece of land owned by the Borough of Belmar.
According to Davies, "The greenhouse was built by inmate labor donated through the New Jersey Department of Corrections, and Home Depot donated tools and seeds the first year. It began with approximately eight families and has grown to over 20 family units."
An annual membership to Belmar Magical Garden costs $20 per year. Membership fees are used to purchase planting supplies, such as seed-starting mix, vegetable and flower seeds, and organic fertilizer. Membership is open to Belmar residents, as well as families from neighboring towns. All levels of gardening experience are welcome, from master gardener to first-timer.
New families are welcome to join the Belmar Magical Garden for 2022. Email the garden coordinator if you are interested in getting involved.
"The success of the garden is made possible by the contributions of each of the members," Davies says. "It takes all of us to make the garden a success!"
Belmar Magical Garden and Greenhouse
604 15th Avenue
Belmar, New Jersey 07719
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