70 F (21 C)
Saturday, July 21

Brookdale Newsroom

Brookdale Clubs Help Create Community Garden
Kids and Student work together in planting seedlings

More than half a dozen Brookdale clubs and organizations came together to open the Division Street Community Garden with Neptune Township on Sunday, April 22. Community members and Brookdale students planted vegetables provided by to Fulfill, formerly the Food Bank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, during the garden’s grand opening while others painted a mural depicting a shining sun.

Mary Beth Fiorentino, a Neptune resident, is the first gardener to join the community garden, with plans of growing broccoli, lettuce and some Jersey tomatoes.

“I am very excited, looking forward to some fresh, grown vegetables,” Fiorentino said. “Community gardens like this are very important. A lot of people don’t have the space on their property, so it’s a great opportunity for people to come out, get together with others in order to share the work and the reward.”

Brookdale’s TIN (The Innovation Network) club originally investigated building a community garden at Lincroft in spring 2017 but did not have the funding to make it work. Fortunately, Neptune Township offered to partner with TIN and donated a space to build the garden at 130 Division Street. Several Brookdale and community organizations, including Brookdale’s Environmental Club, came together to make the garden possible.

Erika Etkine TIN president and public relations major stressed the importance of community gardens.

“They bring a lot of people together for a common purpose. From plotting lands next to each other to giving each other advice on growing methods. It’s such a cool thing to be doing with your neighbors,” Etkine said. “I personally met so many people just being out here today and I am not even planting. It is simply wonderful.”

Girl breaks open pinata

A Neptune resident successfully breaks the piñata during the Division Street Community Garden grand opening on April 22.

Gathered at the opening were representatives from TIN, the environmental club, the Student Life Board, EOF, the Poseidon Early College High School, Fulfill, Master Gardeners of Monmouth County, the Neptune Housing Authority and State Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling, a Neptune resident.

Brookdale interim President David Stout and Neptune Mayor Nicholas Williams both spoke at the event.

Twelve raised beds were available to grow plants, with students and community members planting in the first four. The harvest collected will be donated to Fulfill.

Jess Sinkhorn, garden coordinator for Fulfill, provided seedlings of onions, broccoli, kale, snow peas and lettuce, which were grown at Fulfill and Rolling Hills Farm of Lambertville. They will be ready to harvest in the coming weeks.

The remaining eight beds are open for purchase of 4 by 4 parcels for the season. Neptune Township residents will pay $20 for a parcel; Neptune senior citizens, $15; and nonresidents, $25.

Gardeners will also be responsible for the upkeep of adjacent crops going to Fulfill, with guidance from the Master Gardeners of Monmouth County.

Brookdale students kept local children busy throughout the 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. event with planting, painting and various games and activities such as ladder toss, face painting and a piñata.

Erika Etkine TIN president and public relations major stressed the importance of community gardens.

“They bring a lot of people together. For plotting lands next to each other to giving each other advice on growing methods. It’s such a cute thing to be doing with your neighbors,” Etkine said. “I personally met so many people just being out here today and I am not even planting. It is simply wonderful.”

Event sponsors were Booskerdoo Coffee Roastery, who provided muffins and coffee and Barlow’s Flower Farm and Garden Center who donated soil.

If you are interested in purchasing a parcel for the season, please email garden@brookdalecc.edu

Check out more photos from the grand opening of the Division Street Community Garden here.

By Minh Connors