The Keyport GardenWalk Is Back At The Bayshore

Artwork by 2018 Keyport GardenWalk Art Contest winner Billy Green

Artwork by 2018 Keyport GardenWalk Art Contest winner Billy Green

Come with your walking shoes on, your cameras loaded and your appetites ready.

For the seventh year running, the Keyport GardenWalk will attract thousands of enthusiasts to the private and public gardens of this charming town on the southwest corner of the Raritan Bayshore. The event takes place over two days on June 2nd and 3rd from 11am to 3pm and is free to everyone. Visitors should give themselves plenty of time to browse the many dozens of gardens on display. A number of the gardeners of previous GardenWalks have cultivated their gardens once again for this annual event. Indeed, the annual preparation for this event marks the beginning of the gardening season for many of them.

“We are nothing without our generous gardeners,” says Keyport GardenWalk chair, Clare Skeen.

There are many gardeners who are willing to do so year after year and every year there are new resident gardeners who put their homes and gardens on display. The gardens that you will see vary from the sublime to the eclectic and the plants, shrubs and trees within them vary from indigenous to exotic.

The resident gardeners are always willing to discuss their gardens with visitors and some welcome them with soft drinks, light fare and even some live music.

“Our visitors marvel at the generosity of our gardeners and the variety of the gardens,” Skeen adds, “(The visitors) also really appreciate the fact that 99% of our gardens are designed, planted and maintained by the gardeners themselves.”

Photo by Jr. Photographer “Lo” – age 9

The seed for the GardenWalk was planted 8 years ago when Ms. Skeen read an article about the GardenWalk in Buffalo, New York, in the June/July 2010 edition of Horticulture magazine. She then brought the concept to the Keyport Garden Club. From there, the Keyport GardenWalk started to grow from concept to reality. According to Skeen, the organizers of GardenWalk Buffalo “were very generous in their advice” to the Keyport Garden Club members that organized the event. In order to prepare and plan accordingly, the Club decided that the first GardenWalk in Keyport would be in 2012. Since then, the event has grown to be a top tourist attraction, attracting 3,100 visitors to the historic Borough of Keyport in 2017 alone.

Visitors from as far as Dusselberg, Germany have previously visited the dozens of public and privately owned gardens as they walked, biked or took a complimentary pedicab ride through the picturesque borough which is scattered with Victorian-era homes and buildings that add to the charm and appeal of the day.

In addition to walking the gardens, visitors can attend morning GardenTalks at Keyport Borough Hall on topics that include “Gardens of the Cotswolds – Inspirations and Lessons” presented by Kirsty Dougherty of Noble Garden Tours and local garden designer, Erin Koberle and “Backyard Birds and Beyond” presented by photographer and birder, Ed Norman.

Photos by Jr. Photographer “Lo” – age 9

The day will go by quick, and you may not get through all of the gardens on in one day. You can stay overnight at any of the local hotels, but don’t leave town without visiting one of Keyport’s renowned restaurants for a late lunch, dinner and a drink. Vendors from near and far have inquired if they could set up at the GardenWalk, but the response is always, “Thank you for your interest but we want visitors shopping in our year round shops and eating at our restaurants,” Skeen states. The organizers resolute to keep the interests of the local businesses and restaurants in town at the forefront. Local businesses and restaurants are “incredibly supportive of our Club and, in particular, this event,” Skeen adds.

The Keyport GardenWalk is uniquely suited to provide a wonderful opportunity for visitors to support the local businesses in town. It attracts thousands of folks from near and far, and for that reason, Local Joan supports this event and gives it a grade A+.

When you arrive at the Keyport GardenWalk event, be sure to make your way down to the Keyport waterfront gazebo – that is where the Keyport GardenWalk headquarters is. They will have all of the information you will need to start your tour of the gardens of Keyport.

For information on planning your visit to Keyport on June 2nd and 3rd, you can visit the Keyport GardenWalk website which has directions, hotel information and general information about the Borough of Keyport.


Second Life Bikes – School Is Out, Bikes Are In!

I need a bike. I used to think that I just wanted a bike, but I truly need one. Do you need one, too? Well – check out Second Life Bikes in Asbury Park, NJ!

Second Life Bikes is more than just a used bike shop. Way more. They describe themselves as a biking community center in Asbury Park where people connect to each other, build skills, join group bike rides, learn bike safety, and create bike art and custom designs that can support new social enterprises. They say that their “mission is to get more people (especially youth) on bikes.”

Before you go, check this video to see why you really need to support this local business!

21 Main Street
Asbury Park, NJ 07712

The Buy Local Instead Picture Project

Join Local Joan’s “Buy Local Instead” picture project!

Do you own a local business? Do you know someone who does? Send us pictures of your storefronts, fair stands, or products! We’ll be posting them on the website.


Photos will be included in a video campaign coming soon – so we need at least 100 pictures. Post them on our Facebook page at!


Communities with an active “buy local” campaign have experienced markedly stronger revenue growth compared to those located in areas without such a campaign.

According to a survey taken by the Institute For Local Self-Reliance, a national survey of independent businesses has found that those in communities with an active “buy local” campaign have experienced markedly stronger revenue growth compared to those located in areas without such a campaign. You can download the report here.

The article by Stacy Mitchell, senior researcher with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, highlights the report and provides a basis for what many proponents of “buy local” campaigns have been claiming for decades. Have a look and make your own conclusions.

Not a Local Business? Well, That Doesn’t Matter….

Costco and Whole Foods Market Support Local With Good Corporate Citizenship

I’ve spent a lot of time looking into how large superstore chains can hurt the economy. From predatory pricing to poorly compensated employees, I decided early on that there isn’t much to like about these conglomerates. They end up doing much more to hurt the local economies surrounding them than helping. Or so I thought….

9512021_sIt is true. There are some conglomerates that will never be good corporate citizens in their local economies. I shudder at the thought of giving them business, but why not? They are local, right? And they do employ my friends, family and neighbors, right?

Yes. But in order to improve their reputation, they need to be active in improving their citizenship status within their communities.We’ve seen examples of this in a couple of our local superstores: Costco and Whole Foods Market.

How do they do it?

Being Too Generous To Their Employees

Back in 2005, Wall Street continually faulted Costco CEO Jim Sinegal of “being too generous to employees.” This was, and continues to be worn as a badge of honor by Sinegal and Costco, and their customers take note, staying loyal to Costco “because they like that low prices do not come at the workers’ expense.” As Sinegal puts it, “this is not altruistic. This is good business.”

Supporting Local Vendors

11259873_sWhole Foods Market has a track record of supporting local companies and selling local products in their stores. While becoming a vendor for Whole Foods Market isn’t an easy task, the process is simplified and can become lucrative for both parties. They are also pretty open about their sourcing efforts in some cases, like this one in Hawaii.

Working To Strengthen Their Community

Even further, Whole Foods Market touts what they call their Commitment to Society. One of the tenets of this commitment is Community Giving which provides a framework that any conglomerate can follow to give back to their communities.

Another tenet which is most impressive is their overt financial support by way of their Local Producer Loan Program. These loans employ rates that rival SBA rates (currently between 5% and 9%). Have a look!

What I Like About Them

The very practice of buying local is intended to strengthen and bolster the local economy. With the support that Costco and Whole Foods Market provide to individuals and their communities, these companies fall within the buying local ecology. I support such companies when local stores can’t provide a job for my nephew or don’t have what I am looking for. If my nephew can’t find a job at a local small business, I’ll send him over to Costco. If I’m going to buy something, I’ll always buy local instead—but if my local grocer doesn’t have the cut of meat or particular vegetable that I am looking for, Whole Foods Market might. And if they do, they probably got it from a local vendor.

A Loaf of Bread, Container of Milk and a Stick of Butter…

If you’re close to my age, you may remember a sweet little Sesame Street animated short about a girl who was tasked to walk to her local grocery to buy these staples for her mother. I’d have loved to do that for my mom – I asked her if I could, but we lived in suburbia, and the local stores were a bit farther than up the block and around the corner. The closest one was about two miles away, and the closest supermarket was about the same distance.

Locally bought foods are better!

Buy them local instead!
Image credit: belchonock / 123RF Stock Photo

For a time, such little “mom-n-pop” stores dwindled into near extinction. It was common to see them close down as supermarkets and super stores popped up in nearly every town around us. Indeed, in some cases, pushing the mom-n-pops out of our communities was the very intent of the larger national conglomerates.

Some local grocers, farmers markets and specialized shops like fish markets, butchers and delis still thrive in their communities, though, and as more communities begin to see more value in purchasing from them rather than the superstores, more and more mom-n-pops like them are popping up around towns and in town centers.

Am I Saving Money At The Local Market?

There are many benefits to purchasing local food from a local market, but will you actually save money? On the price tag, you may find that the local price is a bit more than the superstore price, and sometimes there’s a nefarious reason for that. As we are learning to stretch our dollars further in this challenging economy, we’ve learned to look beyond the price tag and consider the other factors that will contribute to the cost of your purchase.

So why wouldn’t I buy a loaf of bread from the superstore at $2.29 when it’s $2.99 at the farmer’s market in town? Because it just makes more sense not to. Don’t take our word for it – others agree. GreenUpgrader has 10 great reasons why spending $.70 cents more saves you money in the short run.

Next time you need a loaf of bread, a container of milk or a stick of butter, Local Joan says “Take a walk to the local market, and if they’re around, bring the kids!”


Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial