BRICK – Members of the Brick Township Garden Club are using their “green thumb” to make the Township greener, as they prepare for a new season ahead.
The Brick Garden Club was initiated in September 1999 by Robert Anstett of the Brick Township Recreation Department in conjunction with resident Dianna Jankos. It was created with a purpose to educate members and the public about gardening as well as enhance the community with beautification projects.
The Club’s first meeting was held in September 1999. Today, the club has over 120 members, with about 60 to 70 who are very active.
The Bob Anstett Cultural Arts Center located on Herbertsville Road is considered the Club’s home. As the warmer months kick off, members of the club are wasting no time and are making sure the grounds are pristine for their upcoming events.
Garden Club President Maureen Dougherty explained how the Center attracts a lot of foot traffic – many residents walk their dogs on the property, a community garden is available for those who wish to grow herbs and vegetables, the Township Green Fair and the Club’s Garden Tour & Tea. However, no one lives on the property to maintain its landscape.
“The weeds and plants get out of control. Over the years, the Garden Club has planted garden beds here. The Township does come out to mow the grass, but no one maintains any of the plants,” Dougherty said.
The group has just begun their process of sprucing up the place and fixing their garden beds so that the Center is ready for the rest of spring and the summer season.
“Right before the garden tour, we’re out there in the summer heat weeding and trying to make everything look nice, which is difficult because it’s overrun with weeds. The plants we planted just aren’t flourishing,” Dougherty said. “We decided this year that we’re going to redo the garden beds to make them easier to manage, with native plants. The path had lots of irises and different perennials but the weeds have taken over and it’s very difficult to weed certain perennial plants because all the weeds get entwined with their roots or tubes.
“So, we decided to dig up the irises out of the two beds along the paths. Most of it will be transformed to grass, that way it can be mowed. There are also three large beds alongside the building. So, we will be redoing those as well,” she added.
Additionally, Dougherty said that the club is currently working with the Township to plant more trees on the property.
“We found out that there is grant money through the Green Acres Program to pay for trees. We’re currently working on getting some trees, trees that flower, to add more shade to the grounds,” she said.
The volunteers work hard to keep the grounds of the Center groomed, but this also prepares the area for two major events: the Green Fair and Garden Club’s Tour & Tea.
This year the Green Fair is held on May 20 and will feature vendors, exhibitors and student groups representing environmental and social responsibility, locally-sourced products and zero waste. The Garden Club will have its own tent with a hands-on workshop of planting in pots to help pollinators.
One of the Garden Club’s biggest fundraisers is their Tour & Tea event, which will be on July 11 this year. The day will feature seven homes that participants can tour and view their gardens. Afterwards, everyone meets at the Cultural Arts Center for tea and other treats. The event will also have vendors and a plant sale.
Dougherty said that the money raised goes towards buying plants, resources, as well as scholarships. The Club provides scholarships to high school students who live in Brick and plan to study science in college.
In addition, the Garden Club takes care of the multiple garden beds on display at the corner of Brick Boulevard and Route 70. Dougherty said many volunteers come out to plant seasonal flowers and water the beds.
“We’re very excited to be fixing up the grounds at the Cultural Arts Center; it’s something we have control over. With our new plan of changing out the beds, we only have to do regular maintenance in the future. We’re looking forward to it all being done!” Dougherty said.
The Garden Club meets the second Monday of the month, with their next meeting being May 8. There are no meetings in January or February. For more information about the Garden Club or their scholarships, visit brickgardenclub.com or email Maureen Dougherty at firstname.lastname@example.org.