The 2014 Community Garden Season begins….And more!

Spring is in the air, let’s get the garden started! Planning a new garden can be fun. The opportunity to act as a creator can be appealing but anyone who gardens knows it requires some preparation.

The transformation has begun: Earlier this week (Sarah Meyer, Oakside Garden Coordinator, Michael Hodges, Bloomfield Health Department) and myself Gina Behre (Bloomfield Health Department) successfully completed the work that needed to be done despite the morning chill that still hung in the air. Thankfully, the sun eventually peeked out and joined us for the rest of the day.

Due to an overwhelmingly response last year, we more than doubled our garden plots. First thing on the agenda was the design. The area was marked off for 8 additional plots. We now have a total of 14 plots for community gardeners. The next step was tilling the land and creating walkways in between and around the individual gardens. We couldn’t forget about the beautiful perennial garden along the perimeter. Carefully we hauled the mulch to the garden area NOT damaging the tulips and daffodils peeking through.

Our local broadcast station WBMA-TVstopped by for some footage. Our garden will be highlighted in the To Your Health Bloomfield program. The next episode will air in May. Keep a look out!

We are so excited about this project because community gardens allows families and individuals without land the opportunity to produce food and provide a place for gardeners to share their knowledge and skills. There are so many benefits in community gardens: Studies have shown that community gardeners and their children eat healthier diets and the exposure to green space can reduce stress and increase a sense of wellness and belonging. We think this is fantastic. Come join us!

In addition to the manual labor at the gardens this week, Sarah reviewed some of the garden rules that must be followed in order to maintain the land and respect the other gardeners. We discussed the water sprinkler system schedule, individual hose use, and proper cleaning and storage of the tools. She also touched on companion gardening. Because our gardens are all organic, garden pesticides are not allowed. However, growing certain plants next to each other can minimize insect attraction. Basil and marigolds planted next to tomatoes act as a natural repellent to ward off whitefly. Using strong smelling vegetables such as alliums (onion and garlic) and herbs (rosemary and basil) can confuse insects and prevent them from attacking your crop. This is good stuff!! Thanks Sarah!

Sarah Meyer, Oakeside Garden Coordinator tilling the land...

Sarah Meyer, Oakeside Garden Coordinator tilling the land…

Through the ShapingNJ grant we will also be purchasing seedlings from a local garden center to provide our gardeners with some delicious vegetables such as kale, lettuce, cucumbers, various herbs and tomatoes when the time is right.

Opening season is this Saturday 4/12/14 at the Oakside Cultural Center located at 240 Belleville Ave Bloomfield. All our gardeners must attend an orientation and meet with Sarah Meyer, Oakside Garden Coordinator.

If you are interested in securing a plot and you live in the Bloomfield area you can download an application and review the rules and regulations. Please NOTE the application fee does not apply to you. For more information please contact Sarah at 973-429-0960.

Community Partnership Yields Results
The Bloomfield Health Department has continued to work with the YMCA, Bike and Walk Montclair, Bloomfield Parks and Recreation, Eat.Play.Live..Better, and the United Way of Bloomfield to install Bike racks at various locations in Bloomfield. Funding the project will be provided by the Partners for Health Foundation in connection with ShapingNJ initiatives. “Our goal is to provide opportunities that encourage physical activity, a proven strategy for combating obesity and maintaining wellness according to Karen Lore, Director of Health and Human Services.

Michael Hodges, Vincent Nicosia and Gina Behre of the Bloomfield Health Department, Mike Sceurman from the Bloomfield Recreation Department, Washima and Jonathan from the YMCA and Hilary from the United Way recently met to continue the planning for the community bike rack project. We discussed surveying the town for bike racks, types of bike racks, placement and installation.

Hilary Michel of the United Way, disussing the survey that her intens will perform...Pictured also are Gina Behre, Mike Sceurman, and Jonathan D'Arpa...

Hilary Michel of the United Way, disussing the survey that her intens will perform…Pictured also are Gina Behre, Mike Sceurman, and Jonathan D’Arpa…

Michael Sceurman surveyed all the Bloomfield schools for bike racks and placement. The only school with an available bike rack was found at the Bloomfield High School. Moving forward Mike will be installing new bike racks in all the Bloomfield parks. Hillary assisted in the bike rack survey throughout Bloomfield making some valuable observations that will help us along the way.

The ability to install bike racks in areas desirable to cyclists will foster efforts to make Bloomfield a bike friendly place. Placements of the racks are being considered at the following locations. Train Stations, Post Office, Bus Stop Corridors along Broad Street, Township Schools, Broughton Ave, areas on Bloomfield Ave.,between N. 15th and Broad Street.

Once again thanks for visiting our site. We’ll be also sharing more information on organic food, healthy eating and exercise too. Stay tuned for more updates.


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