Zen, Veggies and Flowers at Jersey City's Brunswick Community Garden

Looking for zen in this urban Chilltown paradise we all love so much? I found it. More like, I was led to it by Sarah Welt, owner of Village Yoga, and after just two hours sitting in the shade of the Brunswick Community Garden on this gorgeous summer day, I feel so peaceful.

I wish two things: one, that we weren't leaving so soon, because otherwise I would get on the waiting list for a plot in the garden immediately and two, that Sarah and I had linked up sooner. I could see lunch in the garden being a restorative regular occurrence for us ladies, had my family remained in town longer, as much as I could see myself growing a good portion of the food we eat in the summer here.

Sarah and I have been trying to get together for months now after connecting on Twitter. Sadly that's how I roll. It takes months to get plans together. Not because of my popular and hard-to-pencil-into personal schedule, but because weeks at a time seem to fly by before I know it.

With our impending move, and the Brunswick Community Garden block party coming up this weekend, Sarah and I finally put a meet-up on the calendar and made it happen. I'm simultaneously so glad we did, and so sad to meet such a great woman and friend just as I hit the road.

It was fun in equal measure getting to know Sarah, and exploring the garden of which she is a member. Membership in the Brunswick Community Garden is $20 per year, giving you access to a little plot with which you can do what you like. Some folks were growing flowers, others, veggies. And yet others were nurturing a combination of the two. My favorite little plot -- belonging to some new friends we met and hung out with -- has a fairy garden in it, which I found just as magical as my daughter did. Maybe more.

This garden has been located on Brunswick Street next to the Sixth Street Historic Railroad Embankment since 2000, as part of the city's Adopt-a-Lot program. Dedicated to maintaining an open green space in an urban environment, and supporting all aspects of community food, urban forestry and ornamental gardening, the Brunswick Community Garden is a wonderful community asset. Thanks to a lot of hard work and sweat by garden members, the lot has blossomed into a flowering, food-producing focal point of pride for the entire neighborhood.

There is even a dining area, built by its members so they can share the space and enjoy a meal al fresco with garden goodies and the communal BBQ grill on site. I loved this beautiful little corner of the garden, which is absolutely surrounded by lush greenery. Have I mentioned the peacefulness? And the zen? And the calm in the midst of the city storm?

This coming Saturday the 25th, it won't just be the members of the Brunswick Community Garden celebrating its existence, but all of Jersey City during the Village Block Party on Brunswick Street and Newark Avenue between noon and 10 PM. It promises to be a good time for parents and mini-people alike, with plenty of activities for the whole family.


Mama and Papa will surely enjoy the wine provided by Madame Claude Wine and the creatively crafted cocktails by Third and Vine (using herbs and ingredients from the garden!). Third and Vine will also be providing yummy craft beers.

If you begin to get tipsy from all of that goodness, you can (go with it, or) tipsy-toe on over to the food trucks on hand -- Incrediballs (meatball love), Me Casa (authentic Puerto Rican) and El Chilango Taqueria (Mexican deliciousness) -- and/or take a break to browse the eclectic vending village organized by ISIS Records, take a tour of the Community Garden or watch the live art organized by Ian Kuali’i.

There will be an art show curated by Roland Ramos, with participating artists including Carolyn Texidor, David Rivers, Deidra Callaghan, Erin DeLaney, Greyegg McKenna, Joe Russo, Kayt Hester, Lisa Gevorgyan, Matt Caputo, Mike McNamara, Norm Kirby and Will Torres.

And there will be music! Tons of music. And dance! A stellar lineup of music and dance, in fact, that concludes with one of my absolute favorites in Jersey City, gypsy jazz with Manouche Bag. I will be bad-momming it up on Saturday night and letting her stay up late enough for me to catch that show. Hashtag selfish. The full entertainment line-up is as follows:

1:00pm The Sensational Country Blues Wonders (Country)

2:30pm NIMBUS Dance Works

2:45pm Fredo (Improvisational Jazz)

3:45pm NIMBUS Dance Works

4:00pm Katja Larssen (Singer Songwriter)

4:45pm Dream Team Belly Dance Troupe (Dance)

5:00pm June & the Pushas (Magnetic Soul Punk)

6:00pm Ex Astra (Psychedelic Fusion)

7:00pm Dan O’Dea and Eagle Ridge  (Bluegrass)

8:30pm Manouche Bag  (Gypsy Jazz)

Most importantly (for our household), there will be tons of free fun for the kiddos from 1-5 PM, which Sarah will be (wo)manning. There will be fun and games with Gymboree Jersey City, face painting with Bella Wess and Faces & Twists, food fun with Bambino Chef, an arts and crafts table, sidewalk chalk and balloons. Once Upon a Princess is sending Princess Anna of Arendelle and there will even be free haircuts for the kids provided by Lavish Days Salon! Phew! So much to do. Jersey City's little people will sleep well on Saturday night.

And what for? Yes, summer celebration. But also to benefit the garden itself, the Village Neighborhood Association, 4th Street Arts and the Feral Cat Trap Neuter Release Program which cares for the cat colony living within the garden. Yes, a cat colony! The cats were, by far, my daughter's favorite part of visiting the garden today. Watching Adam Ginsburg -- the caretaker of the Brunswick Garden Cat Colony as well as a number of other colonies in downtown Jersey City -- feed the fur babies who live within made her day.

Trap Neuter Release is a program where feral cats are trapped then either spayed or neutered, given a rabies shot and ear tipped, which is a universal symbol to indicate they have been TNR'd. Adam has started a sponsorship program where individuals in the community can directly donate to help with the feeding and medical care of an individual cat. Adam will have a sign-up sheet at Saturday's festival, or for more information, contact Adam at BrunswickGardenCats@gmail.com. If we weren't leaving, we would most certainly sign up to help with these sweet animals.

Excited yet? I am! We'll meet you on Brunswick Saturday afternoon and evening, where we'll be dancing, face-painting, wine-ing and food trucking to our heart's content. Bring your party pants.

To learn more about the Brunswick Community Garden or the Village Block Party, visit: