Community Happenings

Like Clockwork, Belmar’s Magical Garden Springs into Another Growing Season

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For the past 18 years, Belmar’s Magical Garden has given members of the community the opportunity to produce their own bounty of organically grown fruits and vegetables, such as “The Jersey Tomato.” Credits: Cathy Goetz
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Sharon Russell-Fowler, in forefront, and Nellie Steltzer, both of Belmar, begin to prepare the heated beds for seeds in the Magical Garden’s greenhouse. Credits: Cathy Goetz
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Community gardeners begin their seasonal work at Belmar’s Magical Garden, located behind the 15th Avenue playground. Credits: Cathy Goetz
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BELMAR, NJ — For Belmar’s community gardeners, it’s time to fling open the doors on the greenhouse tucked behind the 15th Avenue playground. Spring is right around the corner, and the Magical Garden is ready to begin its annual transformation — from brown and bare to green and glorious.

But it takes more than waving a wand and saying abracadabra for the magic to happen. Beginning in early March for the past 17 years, members of the community group gather every Saturday morning at the garden, located at the corner of 15th Avenue and E Street. They quickly begin the tasks at hand based on Mother Nature’s seasonal clock.

At first, they brave the chilly temperatures to prepare the grounds for the season or to plant seeds in the much warmer greenhouse.

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In mid-spring, it’s on to planting seeds and tender sprouts in the raised plots outside. And with a regimen of routine weeding and daily watering from that point on, they soon begin to reap the rewards of their efforts. The Magical Garden bursts with organically grown fruits and flowers, herbs and vegetables — a bountiful crop that, of course, includes “The Jersey Tomato.”

“Tomatoes are always a favorite, plus beets and greens of any kind,” said Carol Davies, who has served as garden coordinator since 2001 — the year after it was opened as an initiative of the Belmar Environmental Commission.

There is a $20 membership fee for a family to participate in the group, which is open to residents of Belmar and some nearby towns — from master gardeners to novices, adults and children. While there are no established “rules,” there is one guideline that everyone follows and respects: If you can’t work a Saturday or during the week, you can’t take produce home.

“So far, it has worked out well and everyone seems satisfied with what they get and the amount of work they do,” Davies said.

At the end of the season, everyone gets together to discuss what worked … and what didn’t. And then, the wait begins again for spring, like clockwork.

Anyone interested in becoming part of this year’s Magical Garden community can stop by any Saturday, from 9 to 10 a.m., or contact Davies at belmargarden@gmail.com.

To keep up with updates, follow the garden on Facebook.

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