Gathering Again 4-14-18

Gardeners appreciate rain, and Rain We Got on the 2nd Garden Gathering April 14, 2108.  Still, people came out with freshly dug perennials, cuttings, and vegetable starts. The rain did not dampen our spirits.  Neighbors made new connections and revived aquaintences.

Greg Parker and Brent Avery of city Parks and Recreation hosted the Pizza Garden station, and the city Landscape management division supplied the soil.  Sabrina also set up stations for the kids to make “seed bombs” and decorate their own tin can to use for a planter.

We all took delight in the joy of lil’ Nicholas’ romp and the Garden Music Station that Emily Bodnar built.  The Worm Hotel from Jerry King was a big hit…and Mrs. Mary Howe, Master Gardener, helped everyone identify unmarked contributions.  Adornments from “Wood and Beam” were available for sale to show our affinity for nature.

Original artwork by @Brandy Baird was appreciated in the raffle as well as:

Cunningham’s Pot Yard gift certificate

Tea Basket and Olde English tea pot

Bonsai trimmed by Sabrina

pansy kit

Sabrina’s hand made Herb Garden Tower

Child’s overalls

Quilted mug rug by Heather Ross, @mrsdragon

 

 

 

 

Priorities and Preferences

Our vision for improvements in our area begins to take shape with the help of professional planners and engineering staff.  Imagine if Andrew Jackson Way had stores and apartments above them as in this picture; a lot of people liked that configuration! This sort of preference can/may lead to new zoning policy to make it a bit easier for a developer with vision to accomplish the makeover.

 

Check out the results of the last two meetings here:

http://bigpicturehuntsville.com/five-points-northeast/

We live in the BEST city in the state because leaders and residents show up and communicate!

Starting a Slow Bridge Movement!

When you walk on the Oak Park Trail, you will cross over a culvert on two bridges made by Northeast Huntsville friends and neighbors and other residents of Madison County.  The first bridge was made by members of the mountain biking club called SORBA Huntsville; it’s a sturdy beauty.  The second bridge, also sturdy, was built solely with hand tools from start to finish; felling, splitting, hewing, and making and driving pegs.  Jacob Chancery introduced us to the tools and techniques used for at least 200 years to make the bridge.
We knew the wood had to be naturally rot resistant to be sure the bridge lasts a long time, and we wanted harvest the wood locally.  We decided on black locust which grows quickly in areas with lots of sun.  Brandon Perry of the Land Trust of North Alabama marked some trees that could be harvested, and fortunately they were only a few miles from our project site.  We worked two weekends on the bridge. I hope you enjoy this video of our project!

The trails need improvements and we will built more “slow” bridges by hand.  Get updates by texting ‘trail’ to 84483

 The Oak Park trail starts on city land behind the Oak Park baseball fields. 

 Here’s the bridge design.

Please join our Association to help build bridges between ALL residents of NE Huntsville! Contributions support the ways we promote the area as a great place to live and improve the quality of life in NE Huntsville.

 

 

 

McLeod Masters Trail Crew Report for Jan. 8, 2017; better late than never?

We had 8 brave souls show up for the work day this morning which started out at 14 degrees F. It was cold but thankfully the sun was shining and we didn’t have much wind.

car-dashboard-tempnew-dallas-branch-trail

We continued working on the new Dallas Branch trail, which was started after Thanksgiving on the Land Trust of North Alabama’s Monte Sano Mountain Preserve located in Northeast Huntsville, Alabama.

 

In preparation for the workday, the entire trail had been blown of leaves and debris which was instrumental in the group being so effective in their efforts. We broke out the tools and shortly after 9 a.m. began a short walk to where we began working clipping vines, grubbing (i.e. digging) out trees, cleaning the trail of brush, overhanging limbs, removing rocks, etc. We did take a short break and ate brownies but not to long because you’d begin to get cold again.

We knocked off at noon and ate pizza, provided by the Northeast Huntsville Civic Association, together and talked about trails, the hikers social coming up on Jan. 18th, plus other things. Tatyana helped in the group celebrating the Orthodox Christian Christmas which was yesterday with candy presents that we all received.

All of the high quality photos were provided by Kenn, who graciously supplied them and seemed to enjoy taking. If you’d like to get involved with Trail Crew work days, just send a text message with the word trail to 84483 and you’ll receive notifications.

Meridian Street Shakers and Movers

Yes, there are auto shops, a party rental store, and electric supply stores on Meridian.  There are also iconic and out-right uber cool new retail sites now, and the success of the  Lincoln Academy and Village can’t be understated.  And NOW, just for FUN, this Sunday is the inaugural Tweed Ride in Huntsville starting and ending at businesses right off Meridian Street. It is a regional draw….yes, it’s a thing and we are just now hearing about it!

historic-lowry-house-d753b1239e1cdf8d

Lowry House, 1205 Kildare St

Tweed Rides are an internationally popular way to mix it up with people devoted to leisure for an afternoon, wearing fine or vintage street clothes, exploring the city on slow bikes, talking to each other, enjoying a spot of tea at the park and picnicking with a jazz band.  A group from Memphis is coming to Meridian Street with their Bone Shaker Bikes!

Beth Norwood, host at WLRH public radio and a resident of our area, interviewed Brandy Baird and me, Frances, on Nov. 8th to learn more about the NEHCA and the ride.  The Darwin Downs neighbors received a special shout-out as the Original Tiny House Community.

 Shakers and Movers since 2006

The Tweed Ride is also the first time our Association is sponsoring a special event to showcase the progress on Meridian Street, the western “limit” of our service area. Think of downtown as the heart with arteries like Meridian Street. Much of the progress on Meridian is a because of private investments, later supported by city investments in street scape as mentioned in the 2006 Downtown Master Plan.
The most recent investment is in the rennovation of the Lincoln Mill Commissary building, formerly home to an antique store and stage theatre.  The very current and classy Preservation Company will fill part of the building.  Holt Leather Company will sell high end goods from the other section, and they employ 35 people making the goods sold all over the country.

Ten years ago people would have thought you crazy to visualize Meridian Street as home to a renovated Lincoln Mill business center (thanks Ana and Jim Byrne and Wayne Bonner), an uber cool retail stores in a renovated Lincoln Mill Commissary (thanks, Butler family),  a flourishing Lincoln Village Ministry (thanks Mark Stern, Southward Presbyterian, First Baptist, and other churches).   The Downtown Master Plan of 2006 put Meridian street on the radar, and the private investments were complemented by  attractive street lights, long sidewalks, bike lanes, and new construction design standards.

When you hear the call to participate in the Master Planning Process or The Big Picture this winter, please make every effort to attend, will you?

In any event, make a visit to the interior of Lincoln Mill, check out the shops in the Lincoln Mill Commissary, volunteer at Lincoln Academy, and while you are here, enjoy the sound of old fashioned commerce rolling through our area!  (Warren Buffet is watching BSNF, too.)

 

 

Master Plan Taking Shape

The first session of the Five Points and Northeast Huntsville Master plan was productive. Have a look at the list of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats!  More to come in January.

Click here: http://bigpicturehuntsville.com/five-points-northeast/

Northeast_FivePoints Study Boundary 3

Neighbors in need: Ya say ya saw a Yeti?

Adam Rosetta was baffled by the sight of something strange on our Land Trust Trails out of Oak Park, in particular, on the Dallas Branch Trail.  He shared the sight with others on the Nextdoor.com site but no one else could back him up on the sighting.  Adam, living right next door to me, knew he could count on the Association to back him up.  The best we can do, we said, was get everyone together to look for it.  Join us!  Send a text to 84483 with the letters: EventsOP to get updates.

Yeti tracking for web

 

Garden Gathering

I grew up in a greenhouse. As a child I dirtied my hands in the big bin of potting soil, started cuttings, learned which plants liked a lot of water, which plants just liked a sip, made bonsais, propagated, and learned to airfoil among many other things. The big greenhouse, its slightly cracked door always beckoning, would welcome you with dense warmth, and a wondrous smell of humus, and the gentle roar of the big fans upon the threshold. I would play between the rows of orchids, succulents and bromeliads till the sweat poured, then cool off in front of one of the huge fans.

My father and grandfather owned and operated a nursery for more than 50 years. Plants were always around. A particularly pretty flower in the window sill, a good climbing tree in the back yard, a stunning variegated green friend just outside the window, vines twisted into hedges, naval oranges picked from the backyard, a child-sized vegetable patch – I didn’t know it had permeated so thoroughly until long after I had moved from home, Simon’s Nursery had closed its doors, and I had a house and yard of my own.

After my first few walks, down the roads, sidewalks and in the quiet back alleys three years ago, I realized I had definitely moved to the greener part of Huntsville. And that made me absolutely thrilled! I was exactly where i wanted to be. So many beautiful yards and so many back yard, and even front yard gardens – shrubs, flowers, hanging baskets, vines, fruit trees, vegetables. Sure – I had kept a modest box garden on the south end of town for 8 years – but I was one of two houses on the whole street that had a garden. It seemed, finally, when Spring started knocking I’d be able to meet others who were just as excited about gardening as I was – and well… actually neighborly.

I borrowed a small tractor from a good friend, plowed up an 8’x30’ section of my backyard and got to work on my garden space. My Dad drew up a landscape plan for the house, which we dug and planted. Along and along, as I unpacked, and worked on my green space – I met my neighbors up and down my block, and then others from blocks over. I always made it a point to say hello to folks if they were outside, or if they were walking by, because well, thats the type of neighborhood Five Points is, and its part of why I love living there.

The second year of my garden, my folks came up for a visit in the middle of summer. At sunset I grabbed three baskets and harvested eggplants, onions, leeks, tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers with my Mom’s help and handed them all to my Dad on the patio. He looked back at the garden, the veggies in his hands and then up at me and said “Nano (ie. his father) would be so proud of you. Of all the things grown, he was most impressed by growing food. He would love your garden.”  I never knew that; and as i fell into the sheer depth of those kind words, it all just made me want to grow more and share more. So I shared my harvest with friends, with coworkers, with my neighbors, with family. I cooked, baked, froze, canned and pickled it all! By the time the summer was over, my friends and neighbors were running the opposite direction of me because I was always coming at them with baskets of fresh veggies.

An idea popped into my head then and there. What if I could organize some sort of local veggie swap in the middle of the summer? Or wait, better yet… What if I could organize a swap at the beginning of Spring for folks to plant gardens, or for people who never have but want to, or just for plants, or ideas, maybe just seeds, or herb gardens, or container gardens. There were so many directions it could go. And more questions to be asked. I nested on the idea for a year, grew an even larger garden, chased my friends with baskets of vegetables, and finally posted a give away for my bumper crop of eggplants on NextDoor.com. They were all gone within four hours.  So obviously some people liked fresh veggies just as much as I did. With that courage, I proposed a Five Points Garden Exchange last fall. From the handful of folks that appeared and the couple meetings we had – I gained some ideas (like historic plant swapping) and some more green friends. I decided to join the Northeast Huntsville Civic Association as their Membership chair and they added more ideas and encouragement to the original idea. It was finally go time.

Or should I say green time? The Garden Gathering is for anyone who loves things green and leafy, for anyone who grows a vegetable garden, for anyone who likes flowers, has a plant with a story, prunes shrubbery. The morning of April 8th is for kids who want to grow a pizza garden, for folks who like to cook with fresh herbs, for container gardeners, for people with fruit trees, for neighbors with more green space than house, for anyone even remotely curious about plants. From Nine to Noon at the Optimist Park Pavilion anyone can trade and swap and exchange seeds, plants, flowers, bulbs, herbs, seedlings, knowledge and ideas, and very basically, be neighborly. After all, we call Huntsville, Alabama home. At the very heart of it – The Garden Gathering is for everyone – people who grew up in a greenhouse, and for those who have never even gotten their hands dirty, but wish to.

Garden Gathering Poster