CELERY & BEER
Jersey City South is what the NJ Economic Development Authority called Greenville, Jersey City, in their study in 2022 as they ranked us #17 in the list of 50 designated food deserts where the need is high in the state.
We used to be the celery capital in the area, meaning our soil was fertile and rich with nutrients. Our neighborhood's lack of access to food is man-made.
We even made beer here. One of the most successful brewers in the United States before Prohibition was Lembeck. The street you know was named after him.
We not only had enough food to eat but had very big businesses grow out of here.
But how did we end up here?
About the farms of Greenville, Jersey City quoted from NJCU's Jersey City Past and Present:
Before the Civil War, the small farming and fishing village of Greenville was populated by Irish and German immigrants. They lived among the established, though the small, settlement of earlier English, Dutch, and African American settlers. Well-to-do New Yorkers built large country homes along Bergen Point Plank Road (now Garfield Avenue) with panoramic views of New York Bay.
With open fields, orchards, and woodlands, Greenville's market gardens offered fresh produce and dairy products and attracted clients from nearby cities in New York and Jersey City. Greenville farmers raised livestock on the gently sloping meadows, and fishermen harvested the plentiful oyster beds on the shorelines. In particular, the hardy crisp-stalked vegetable of celery that grew in abundance gave Greenville its local name "celeryville."
About Henry Lembeck and his contribution to St. Paul's church in Greenville, Jersey City quoted from NJCU's Jersey City Past and Present:
When new Irish and German Roman Catholic immigrants settled in Greenville, they attended Sunday Mass at either St. Joseph’s at Baldwin Avenue or St. Peter’s at Grand Street, each several miles away. A request for a local Catholic church in Greenville was forwarded to Bishop James R. Bayley, the first Bishop of the newly-created Diocese of Newark. The request was honored and resulted in the parish of "St. Paul’s Catholic Church, Greenville, N.J.." incorporated in 1861. At the bishop’s behest, the Passionist Fathers of St. Michael’s Monastery at West Hoboken (now Union City) founded a mission at Greenville where Masses were celebrated in the homes.
The congregation purchased two lots on the Old Bergen Road for $375 and built the first church at Old Bergen Road between Greenville and Linden Avenues. It was a modest wood-frame church 20-by-30 feet, costing $1,382. Henry Lembeck, one of the founders of Lembeck & Betz Eagle Brewing Company, and William Farrell are credited with advancing the church’s building program.
Henry Lembeck was one of the most prominent figures in Greenville during his time. Not only was he the president of the most successful beer company in the Eastern US before its shut down during Prohibition, but he was also one of the founders of Greenville Banking and Trust Company as well as the director of the Hudson Real Estate Company. He died at his residence at Lembeck Ave & Old Bergen Rd and was buried in Bayview Cemetery in 1904.
Researching the area's old maps and looking through resources like the Library of Congress website to confirm the stories of Celeryville and Mr. Lembeck
Postcards designed & printed
Vinyl designed, cut & hand-applied
When asked to participate in St. Paul's Greenville feast in June 2022, Jung started by researching the history of the church. Many stories had familiar names and sites, and she could see these glimpses in the neighborhood now. Using the materials she found, she made postcards to sell and donate the proceeds to the pantry run by the church.