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BLOOMFIELD, NJ — The Oakeside Community Garden, at Oakeside Bloomfield Cultural Center, celebrated its 10th anniversary Sunday, Aug. 4, with a party attended by 100 people.

The community garden was started on the former Oakes estate at 240 Belleville Ave. by Sarah Meyer, a 1998 graduate of Glen Ridge High School.

The garden’s location had once served the Oakes family as a vegetable and perennial flower garden and in 2008, the area was neglected and overgrown. But Meyer had an idea, and asked Kim Reilly, the cultural center director, if she could start a personal garden. She received permission and joined a few other gardeners.

In 2010, Meyer, who is employed at Queens County Farm Museum in New York, presented a business plan to Oakeside’s board to create a community garden, with herself as it director. It was accepted.

“When we started, we were using one quadrant and had eight gardeners,” Meyer said Sunday, Aug. 4. “The rest of the area was overgrown.”

Little by little, the number of gardeners and quadrants being tilled increased.
Three of the four quadrants are in use, containing 36 gardens used by 50 gardeners. Since its inception, Meyer said 150 individuals from Bloomfield and neighboring communities have been members of the community garden. Each plot is approximately 8 feet by 11 feet.

In addition to the vegetable gardens being rehabilitated, a small building that once housed chicken coops was made into a tool shed and a cold frame has been put into working order.

“We also have uncovered 100 perenials that were overgrown,” Meyer said. “And we’ve planted irises and Japanese anemones.”
Looking forward, she said there are plans to expand the garden to include eight more plots in the fourth quadrant.