Tag Archives: Aspetuck Land Trust

Roundup: Foliage Hikes, “Guys & Dolls,” Lunar Eclipse …

With fall foliage at its peak, Aspetuck Land Trust recommends several great hikes. Two are in Westport.

Caryl & Edna Haskins Preserve is tucked away off Compo Road South. Gentle flat trails circle both ponds. They’re great spots to observe wildlife, and beautiful foliage colors reflecting off the water. A wooded trail near the brook is moderately steep. Click here for the back story on Haskins Preserve.

The red trail through the Newman Poses Preserve (off Bayberry Lane) winds through a wetland on a boardwalk to a meadow marked by large bayberry bushes. Through the meadow towards the lowlands lies the Aspetuck River. A favorite spot for quiet contemplation is the stone bench on the riverbank where neighbor Paul Newman enjoyed floating. The trail loops back by the meadow, into the uplands and back to its starting point.

Trout Brook Valley Conservation Area in Weston is ALT’s biggest preserve: 1,009 acres, with 20 miles of trails. For the best views, start at the orchard. Hike to the highest point; then look south all the way to the Sound and Long Island.

Click here for full details on Aspetuck Land Trust’s preserves.

Haskins Preserve (Photo/Wendy Cusick)

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Tickets went on sale yesterday for Staples’ Players fall production of “Guys and Dolls.”

They’re selling fast — even without mobile advertisements like this:

(Photo/Julianne Mulvey)

The show runs November 11, 12, 13, 18 and 19. Click here for tickets, and more information.

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Cris Jacobs and his band returned to Westport last night for a long-awaited return of the “Supper & Soul” series.

The event — sponsored by the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce — included a concert at the Westport Library. It was sandwiched in between a 3-course dinner at participating restaurants, and post-concert drinks.

A large crowd enjoyed the music, the food and beverages — and the return to normal entertainment, following the long COVID siege.

“Supper & Soul” at the Westport Library. (Photo/Dinkin Fotografix)

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Jonathan Alloy writes: “Did you know there are charging stations for electronic devices at the Westport train station platforms? I just noticed today.

“It is BYOC (bring your own cable). I count 3 on the southbound platform and none northbound.”

One of the charging stations for electronic devices. It opens up flat for your device.

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The Westport Country Playhouse production of “From the Mississippi Delta” explores the African American experience in the South, during the Great Migration and civil rights movement.

An insert in the program describes Westport’s role in the movement. An accompanying exhibit on the Great Migration of Blacks out of the South is on view at the Playhouse’s Lucille Lortel White Barn, weekdays from noon to 6 p.m. and on performance dates until intermission.

But the Playhouse also acknowledges current issues. Another insert urges theater-goers to support the Mississippi Rising Coalitions, which addresses the water crisis in Jackson. Click here for more information on that project.

Clck here for more information on “From the Mississippi Delta.” The show runs through October 30.

The cast of “Mississippi Delta” acknowledges applause, From left: Tameishia Peterson,  Claudia Logan, Erin Margaret Pettigrew. (Photo/Dave Matlow)

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Diwali — the Festival of Lights — is one of the most important events in Hinduism.

The Unitarian Church of Westport hosted a Diwali celebration last night. It was light, bright — and very, very festive.

Diwali last night at the Unitarian Church. (Photo/Sarathi Roy)

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Election Day: It’s not just for voting.

If the weather is clear Tuesday, November 8, the Westport Astronomical Society will have telescopes available for the public to view the lunar eclipse. The observatory is at 182 Bayberry Lane, behind the Aspetuck Health District.

It’s from 4 to 6 a.m. — before the polls open. They’ll post on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Meetup if bad weather scraps their plan.

This is the first Election Day total lunar eclipse in US history. The next one won’t happen again until November 8, 2394. Chances are good you won’t be around for that one.

Unlike a solar eclipse, a lunar eclipse is perfectly safe to view == and lasts hours. The moon glides into earth’s shadow, and can be viewed over a large part of the planet.

It will turn a notable reddish color for 84 minutes, as the light from the sun passes through the earth’s atmosphere to reach the moon’s surface. This “blood moon” is the final total lunar eclipse visible from North America until 2025.

This partial lunar eclipse was photographed by Westport Astronomical Society member Carl Lancaster this past May.

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“Who” saw this beautiful barred owl in his back yard?

Tom Carey. And he captured it — on his camera, anyway — for today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature.

(Photo/Tom Carey)

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And finally … on this day in 1998, a court supported the superintendent at Fort Zumwalt High School in St. Louis, and his decision that the marching band could not play “White Rabbit” in their act, because of its drug references.

(After your Aspetuck Land Trust preserve hike, thank “06880” for the suggestion. Contributions of any amount are welcome! Please click here to help.)

Roundup: Cyndi Lauper, Aspetuck Land Trust, Longshore Ladies …

Last night, Cyndi Lauper joined a long list — Willie Nelson, Smokey Robinson and Chuck Berry, to name just 3 — who played a Levitt Pavilion Fundraiser.

Bantering with the audience and sounding in fine form, the “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” girl wowed the sellout crowd.

The weather was fine. The set list was great. And — thanks to all those ticket buyers — Westport’s favorite outdoor entertainment venue can begin planning another summer of over 50 free events for 2023.

Cyndi Lauper, in action. (Photo/Dinkin Fotografix)

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This is the week to pick up 6,000 pre-ordered native plants, through Aspetuck Land Trust’s semi-annual sale.

Funds support their Green Corridor. It links green spaces within developed residential and urban areas to the protected natural areas ALT preserves, maintains, and manages as public spaces.

The Land Trust has added 34,000 native plans to the region, in just the past 3 years. 1,400 Fairfield County residents have contributed more than $100,000, helping improve the region’s biodiversity.

To learn more about Aspetuck Land Trust, click here.

Haskins Preserve is one of Aspetuck Land Trust’s many such areas. (Photo/Wendy Cusick)

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The Longshore Ladies 9-Holers’ recent Charity Golf Event lived up to its name.

The Westport Woman’s Club Food Closet received over $1,125, and 4 grocery carts of food donations. The funds will help provide Stop & Shop gift cards.

Seems like there were plenty of winners at that golf outing,

Food donations, courtesy of Longshore Ladies’ 9-Holers.

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“06880” covers Westport, past and present.

On Thursday, I spoke on exactly that subject to the Y’s Men of Westport and Weston.

My message was, “The bad news is: Westport has changed. The good news is: Westport has changed.”

It was a great audience — as the Y’s Men are for all guest speakers. They asked great questions. They laughed at all the right times.

And the donuts and coffee were fantastic.

Yours truly, at the Y’s Men meeting. ({Photo/Ted Horowitz)

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Hurricane Ian has claimed another victim.

Well, at least the weather has.

The Westport Book Shop event with Lauren Tarshis — originally scheduled for this afternoon (Saturday, October 1) on Jesup Green — has been rescheduled to November 5 (3:30 p.m., Westport Library Trefz Forum).

For more information, click here.

Westport Book Shop.

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Work continues on Westport Hardware’s new location.

The popular store is moving a few storefronts west of its current site, in the shopping plaza opposite Fresh Market.

They’ll open “soon,” they promise.

(Photo/Andrew Colabella)

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Speaking of shopping: Hurry on down to Walgreens.

Altoids are selling now at a much lower price than before!

(Photo/Phil Rubin)

Today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature is a serene scene, off Compo’s South Beach:

(Photo/Laurie Sorensen)

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And finally … today is October 1. Or, as it’s better known in Westport: The day dogs can return to Compo Beach.’

Enjoy th next 6 months. April 1 will be here before you know it.

 (After playing with your dogs, please consider a contribution to “06880”! Click here to help.)

Roundup: Shred Day, Playhouse Benefit, Post Road West …

Shred it!

Westport’s 13th annual annual Shred Day is Saturday, September 24 (9 a.m. to noon, Greens Farms train station).

Residents may shred up to 8 paper bags (bags recycle too) or 3 boxes (12 inches by 18 inches) per household.  Each car will be charged $10. Proof of Westport residency is required.

Among the items often shredded: personal, confidential and sensitive papers, bank statements, cancelled checks, credit card statements, tax records and medical records.

For more information, contact Town Clerk Jeffrey Dunkerton by phone (203- 341-1110) e-mail (JDunkerton@westportct.gov).

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Everything is set for Saturday’s (September 17, 5:30 p.m.) Westport Country Playhouse benefit.

Broadway star Renée Elise Goldsberry (Angelica Schuyler in “Hamilton”) headlines a high-energy concert of Broadway, pop and soul, backed by a 7-piece band.

There’s a pre-show cocktail party and after-party with a DJ and dancing — plus an auction. Among the items:

  • A week’s stay for 8 at a Malibu beachfront home, and dinner at Pier Café.
  • 3 -hour sail on the 72-foot yacht Ticonderoga, from Riverside Yacht Club.  Choose a dinner sail for 12, or a cocktail cruise with appetizers for 20.
  • Metropolitan Opera premium box seats for 8 at the world premiere of “The Hours,” starring Renée Fleming and Westport’s own Kelli O’Hara. Post-performance champagne with Kelli in her dressing room.
  • 2 house seats for 5 must-see Broadway shows, curated by Mark Lamos, Playhouse artistic director. Dinner prior to one evening’s performance, plus round-trip car service.
  • A round of golf at Shorehaven Golf Club with Stephanie Szostak (avid golfer, film and TV actress), plus a lesson with a Shorehaven golf pro, gift certificate at the pro shop, and drinks at the club.
  • Coffee and conversation with Tony and Olivier Award winner Gavin Creel.
  • Catered dinner for 10 on the Playhouse stage with Playhouse actors and Mark Lamos.
  • Drinks or coffee in New York with film, television and stage actor Michael Urie.

Raffle prizes include a $15,000 Shopping Spree at Lux Bond & Green, and mezcal and taco tasting for 10 at Don Memo.

For more gala details, including tickets, click here.

Renee Elise Goldsberry

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50 Post Road West — the once-handsome, now decaying building on the left, heading into town — will not be redeveloped.

At least, not now.

50 Post Road West (Photo/Frank Rosen)

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Land use expert and engineer Rick Redniss reports: “After careful evaluation of the challenges in achieving a redevelopment that enhances the historic building and navigates the complex lengthy local and state approval process, the contract purchaser has elected to withdraw the pending text application (before the Planning & Zoning Commission).

“While trying to achieve a successful balance of costs and benefits it has become clear that taken as a whole, the effort does not ‘pencil out’ at this time.

“We thank everyone for their participation and hope that a future effort will help protect this historic building, so it can once again be an asset to Westport.”

There’s another Bridgewater in town.

Besides the world’s largest hedge fund, Westport is now home to Bridgewater Chocolate. The two have nothing to do with each other, besides our Zip Code.

The chocolatier — located in Parker Harding Plaza, near GG & Joe’s — was founded in the upstate town of Bridgewater (hence the name). This is their 4th store. Other locations are Brookfield and West Hartford.

Bridgewater Chocolatier’s grand opening is 4:30 p.m. today.

Bridgewater Chocolate (Photo and hat tip/Ifeseyi Gayle)

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Much-loved photographer Jerri Graham is September’s guest art exhibitor at Westport Book Shop.

It’s a true local show. Her images highlight the beauty and bounty of Wakeman Town Farm.

As a young girl, Graham learned darkroom techniques with her father. Together they experimented with negatives and light.

The exhibit is open during regular business hours at the used book store on Jesup Green. All artwork is available for purchase — and Graham will donate a portion of the proceeds back to the Town Farm.

To see more of Graham’s WTF photos, click here.

Jerri Graham’s photos, at the Westport Book Shop.

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Interested District 2 voters are invited to apply for a Representative Town Meetng vacancy. It was created by the resignation of Christine Meiers Schatz.

No party affiliation is required, as the RTM is non-partisan. The term runs through November 2023.

To apply, send a resume by September 23 to Town Clerk Jeffrey Dunkerton: JDunkerton@westportct.gov.

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Piano master Brian Marsella returns to the VFW this Thursday. He headlines Jazz at the Post, the weekly series that’s drawing rave reviews and large crowds.

He’s joined by Reid Taylor, Brian Floody and of course Westport’s own “jazz rabbi,” Greg Wall.

There are 2 sets on Thursday, September 15: 7 andn 8:30 p.m. (VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399, 465 Riverside Avenue). There’s a $10 cover, and dinner beginning at 6:30 p.m. Reservations are suggested: JazzAtThePost@gmail.com

Brian Marsella

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Aspetuck Land Trust’s next “Lunch & Learn” webinar features writer, author and wild bird rehabilitator Suzie Gilbert.

The author of the memoir “Flyaway: How a Wild Bird Rehabber Sought Adventure and Found Her Wings” and the novel “Unflappable” shares her love of the natural world and passion for wild birds, and her journey from raptor center volunteer to founder of a bird rehab center and author.

Click here to register.

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Kids love nature. They also love Victoria Kann.

On October 9 (11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.), they can combine both. The author will read from her popular “Pinkalicious: Treasuretastic” book, and sign copies. There’s also a scavenger hunt for natural treasures through the remarkable Blau House gardens, and a chance for children to take a bean home and watch it grow.

The gardens are at 9 Bayberry Ridge Road. Registration and payment ($10 per child, which includes a copy of the book) must be done by October 7. Click here for details.

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Sure, this entitled parking photo is from a few feet over the Westport line — it’s at Equinox, in Southport.

But the driver is a few feet over several lines — handicapped lines.

Allison Ziering Walmark, who saw this spectacularly selfish act, took note of the flag on the back. She writes: “Whoever parked this way must be so traumatized by the Queen’s demise, that he or she can’t think straight. Not one, but two handicapped spots!”

(Photo/Allison Ziering Walmark)

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo is both wondrous and scary: a ginormous wasp (or hornet?) nest, hanging heavily on a branch at the entrance to Grace Salmon Park:

(Photo/Marc Frankel)

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And finally … today’s song is a collaboration of 3 generations.

Longtime Westporter Barbara Reis has spent over 50 years writing musicals. They’ve been produced at the White Barn Theater, Fairfield Playhouse, Orpheum in New York and others.

She wrote the music in the video below. The lyrics are by her daughter, Rosalind Mae Reis. And the photos were taken by Barbara’s grandson, Eli Melet, at various national parks.

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(That’s it — another great grab bag o’ stories. To help keep them coming, please click here to donate to “06880.” Thank you!)

Roundup: Club 203, Native Plants, Cohl Katz …

Club 203 — the new Westport organization providing social and fun activities for adults with disabilities — launched with a bang Wednesday night.

Over 100 people gathered at MoCA for the kickoff event. DJ Joe’s great playlist got everyone on the dance floor from the moment they arrived.

The dance floor was filled.

Participants came from as far as Middlebury, Connecticut. DJ Joe rocked the night! Everyone was in on the dance floor. MoCA, The Porch at Christie’s, CVS for providing the venue and snacks. We would also like to thank all the volunteers from our community who helped us last night. We could not have done it with out them!

Hanging with the DJ …

Club 203 organizers Stacie Curran, Kathryn Sonne, Joe Anastasi and Sharuna Mahesh thank MoCA, The Porch @ Christie’s and CVS for providing the venue and snacks — as well as the many volunteers who made the night special.

Next up: a Halloween celebration (October 23, Remarkable Theater). For more information, click here.

,,, and hanging out.

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One of the most well-known houses in Westport (the Kowalsky home) sat for years on one of the last large open residential spaces in Westport.

Now the home — officially, 117 Morningside Drive South — has joined the list of notable town teardowns.

A recent photo …

… and an even more recent one. (Photo/Alan Phillips)

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Though all eyes were on the UK yesterday, after the death of Queen Elizabeth II, viewers watching Yahoo! Finance got a double dose of Westport.

Dave Briggs — one of the platform’s anchors — interviewed internationally best-selling author Jane Green, a British native. Both now live here.

Click here for the full interview.

Screenshot of yesterday’s interview.

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Speaking of Her Majesty … on Monday (September 12), the Remarkable Theater honors her life and legacy with a special showing of “The Queen.”

Helen Mirren stars in the 2006 film, which examines Queen Elizabeth II n the aftermath of the death of Princess Diana.

The lot opens at 6:15 p.m. for tailgating. The movie starts at 7;15 p.m. Click here for tickets, and more information.

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Who was Sigrid Schultz, for whom part of the newly designed Elm Street parking lot is named?

She was a pioneering female reporter, social justice activist — and longtime Westporer — who played an important role in exposing the growing Nazi threat during the lead-up to World War II, and beyond.

Last night, the Westport Museum for Culture & History hosted Professor Dr. David Milne of the University of East Anglia. He is writing her biography, and shared fascinating details of her life. The “Dragon Lady” exhibit is open to the public at the museum through the end of the year. (Hat tip: Dave Matlow)

Dr. James Milne, at the Westport Museum for History & Culture. (Photo/Dave Matlow)

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Wondering about all those yellow ribbons downtown?

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. The ribbons create awareness too: for Circle of Care, a Wilton-based organization that helps families deal with the diagnosis of a child with cancer.

Click here to learn more about Circle of Care. Then click below, for a local video:

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With autumn around the corner, it’s time for Aspetuck Land Trust’s fall native plant sale.

Hard-to-find plants, trees, shrubs and perennials can be ordered online, and picked up September 30 to October 2 at the Caryl & Edna Haskins Preserve off Green Acre Lane. Click here for details.

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Aarti Khosla believes that teachers are the backbone of our society. In these unprecedented times, she says, they need our love more than ever.

Aarti owns Le Rouge Chocolates, on Main Street. So she’s in a position to make it happen. Sweeeeet!

Her “Give a Little Love” chocolate heart campaign works like this: For $8 each, customers can sponsor a heart for one Westport teacher. Aarti hand-delivers the treats to each school.

This is the third year in a row for “Give a Little Love.” Teachers have been very touched by this small gesture, she says.

To donate one or more chocolate hearts online, click here.

“Give a Little Love” with chocolate hearts.

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MoCA’s next show — the premiere of the From The Pen To The Knife exhibition, featuring close to 300 watercolor paintings by Marian Christy, who creates watercolors using only palette knives and puddles of paint — is on view from October 15 to November 27.

An opening reception is set for October 15 (5 to 7 p.m.).

Christy was a Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Globe journalist, covering fashion and celebrities, for the first chapter of her life.

In the second chapter, she pivoted from “the pen to the knife.” Christy, now 90, had no formal training. She has worked for the last 15 years in her basement at an easel, held firm by used bricks to sustain her forceful palette knife strokes. For more information, click here.

One of Marian Christy’s nearly 300 works, exhibited soon at MoCA Westport.

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Cohl Katz’s clients have included Al Pacino, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Barbara Bush, Bob Dylan, Cal Ripken, Cindy Crawford, Ellen DeGeneres, Hillary Clinton, Hilary Swank, Jerry Seinfeld, John McEnroe, Johnny Depp, Katie Couric, Keith Richards, Leonardo DiCaprio, Martha Stewart, Mary Tyler Moore, Mel Gibson, Mick Jagger, Muhammad Ali, Nicole Kidman, Phil Donohue, Ray Charles, Robert Redford, Robin Williams, Rod Stewart, Rosie O’Donnell, Sting and Tom Cruise,

The hair stylist and makeup artist recently moved back to Westport. She’s offering a back-to-school special for new clients (of all ages): a 50% first-appointment discount. Call 917-848-9596 — and mention “06880”!

Three of Cohl Katz’s clients.

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Several Westport chefs will prepare 4-course tableside meals at Greenwich Wine + Food. The fundraiser for the Jacques Pépin Foundation and Wholesome Wae is set for October 7 (at Abigail Kirsch The Loading Dock, Stamford).

The local contingent includes Jes Bengtson (Terrain Garden Café. Amis Trattoria); Debra Ponzek (Aux Delices), Matt Storch (Match Burger Lobster) and Bill Taibe (The Whelk, Kawa Ni, Don Memo).

The evening includes honors for the Serendipity’s 2022 Most Innovative Chefs. Among them: Will Friedman of Kawa Ni.

Click here for the full schedule, and ticket information.

Bill Taibe and Jes Bengtson will cook at Greenwich Wine + Food.

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The girls are gone from Compo. Now — as seen in today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo — the gulls take over.

(Photo/Tracy Porosoff)

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And finally … as we remember the remarkable life of Queen Elizabeth II, the United States mourns with our British friends.

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(“06880 is entirely reader-supported. Please click here to contribute.)

Roundup: Harvest Fest, Deer Plants, CraftWestport …

The Wakeman Town Farm Harvest Fest fundraiser is September 10.

The online auction — a key part of the event — opens September 6.

But you can preview all the items now.

They include destination travel, private dinners at WTF, kids’ cooking parties, sunset cruises, and great sporting events.

All proceeds — and those from the live auction at Harvest Fest — help fund youth programs, adult classes, scholarships, the farm stand, family events and more.

Click here for a preview.

Those alpacas didn’t pay for themselves. (Photo/Cathy Malkin)

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Oh, deer!

Aspetuck Land Trust’s next “Lunch & Learn” webinar should appeal to just about every homeowner in Fairfield County.

Called “Designing With Native Plants in Deer County,” it’s set for next Wednesday (September 7, noon to 1 p.m.).

Landscape designer Brid Craddock will discuss deer-proof plants, and the techniques that will actually keep Bambi at bay. Click here to register.

(Gorgeous. Now get off my lawn! Photo/Karen Weingarten)

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CraftWestport — the monster pre-holiday show with over 175 vendors selling handmade fashions, accessories, jewelry, home décor and furniture, plus photography, ceramics, glass, metal, wood, mixed media and other artworks — returns to the Staples High School fieldhouse November 5 and 6.

Also on sale: gourmet specialties like bourbon-barrel aged maple syrup, hand-painted chocolates, teas and honey, cheese spreads and curds, baked goods,  skincare products, soaps and candles.

It’s the first time in 3 years for the popular Westport Young Woman’s League show, following 2 COVID cancellations.

Net proceeds from Connecticut’s largest indoor fine crafts festival go to charitable agencies in lower Fairfield County.

Click here for more details.  

One of 175+ booths at CraftWestport.

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The deadline for comments on the proposed cell tower at 92 Greens Farms Road is September 7.

The email address is sitingcouncil@ct.gov; the snail mail address is Connecticut Siting Council, 10 Franklin Square, New Britain, CT 06051.

A cell tower been proposed for the property on the left: 92 Greens Farms Road. (Photo courtesy of Google Maps)

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There’s a back story to today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo. Lauri Weiser writes:

“I was at Compo yesterday, under the South Beach trees that provide a little bit of shade. The crow that’s been here all summer was there.

“Anyone who spent  time under these trees knows that this crow lives here and never shuts up. There were many threats on its life today🤣😳”

(Photo/Lauri Weiser)

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And finally … in honor of the Compo Beach crow (story above) … “it’s the same story the crow told me …”

(“06880” is your hyper-local, reader-support blog. Please click here to contribute.)

Roundup: Tarry Lodge, Lost Swan, Trees …

Finally, the long-rumored news is official: Tarry Lodge is permanently closed.

A sign on the door says what’s been obvious to anyone driving past the Charles Street restaurant for weeks:

(Photo/JD Dworkow)

The Italian spot opened in 2011, on the site of the former Abbondanza (and, long before that, Esposito’s gas station). At the time, I described owner Mario Batali as a “chef, cookbook author, TV personality and philanthropist.” These days, I have to add “serial sexual harasser.”

The website lists 2 Connecticut locations for Tarry Lodge: Westport and New Haven. A dropdown menu indicates both are “no longer available.” The reservations link still allows requests, followed by: “At this moment, there’s no online availability within 2.5 hours.”

And a phone call still leads to this message: “We’re currently closed, but our phones open daily at 11 a.m.”

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Westport Animal Control officer Peter Reid is often called upon for dog and cat crises.

But his portfolio includes many other local creatures: birds, raccoons, snakes …

… and yesterday morning, a swan.

Karen Mather reports: “I saw a swan walking in the middle of Morningside Drive South, and pulled my car over. The poor thing looked tired, and a bit out of place. 

“I called Animal Control. Peter arrived. He’s such a good, friendly, capable guy.

He said he would find an appropriate place for it — wide, open (territorial problems with swans) — perhaps Saugatuck. Hopefully this feathered friend had a better day!”

Animal Control Officer Peter Reid, and the swan. (Photos/Karen Mather)

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Speaking of nature: Aspetuck Land Trust asks, “Want to ‘think like a forest'”?

On Friday (August 26, noon to 1 p.m., Zoom), Anna Fialkoff leads a discussion on “planting native trees to support local food webs.'”

Native trees purify air, shade and cool in hot weather, store atmospheric carbon, minimize flooding and storm water runoff, and help sustain vital pollinators, birds and other wildlife.

Trees are part of forest-like systems, even planted near homes and businesses, in parks and public open spaces, along streets and highways, even parking lots. To learn more, click here.

Think like a tree.

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Two local authors have been added to Story Fest, next month’s Westport Library 6th annual literary-and-more event.

Tessa Smith McGovern and Patricia Dunn will hosting a conversation with  best-selling fantasy author Naomi Novik.

They’ll use the discussion to launch their new podcast: Go Ahead, Write Something!

McGovern is an award-winning English writer and teacher/coach. She’s written 2 best-sellers: the short story collection “London Road: Linked Stories” and Cocktails for Book Lovers.

Dunn is author of the young adult novel “Rebels by Accident.” Her next book, “Her Father’s Daughter,” is a psychological thriller. Her writing has appeared in Salon, The Village Voice, The Nation, LA Weekly and The Christian Science Monitor.

Click here for more information on StoryFest.

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Business Networking International meetings are usually limited to one person per profession.

But a Visitor’s Day on September 1 (7:30 to 9 a.m., United Methodist Church) is open to all.

It’s a chance to hear about classifications that can accept new members. Among them: LinkedIn expert, counseling services/psychotherapist, home security, HVAC, photographer, caterer or bakery, florist, event planner, home inspector, moving company, travel or tour operator, automotive repair, landscaper and electrician.

The Westport BNI group has nearly 50 members. In the calendar year starting October 2021, the group has passed over $3.2 million in closed business.

Pre-registration is required; email billhall747@gmail.com. For more information, click here.

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One Rivers is 10 years old.

Don’t freak out. They haven’t been in their location behind Shearwater Coffee, in the old Bertucci’s building, that long. But the unique art and digital design school is ready to celebrate with an Art Fest.

Set for Sunday, September 19 (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.), it includes a variety of workshops for children and teenagers. Some require advance registrations; other are drop-in.

There’s live music too; food from Goni’s Gourmet; local artists and vendors, and a raffle with a chance to win a free month of lessons.

Click here for full details.

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Giovanni (John) Mioli — a Westporter for 48 years — died peacefully on Thursday, surrounded by his family. He was 90 years old.

Giovanni was born in Santa Teresa di Riva, Italy (Sicily), the oldest of 5 children. He graduated from Istituto Tecnico Industriale, Messina, Italy and had a long career in electrical engineering.

Giovanni spent his 20s captaining sailboats in many regattas on the Caribbean Sea. This passion continued throughout his life. He loved spending time with family and friends on his sailboat on Long Island Sound.

Giovanni also loved communicating globally. As an amateur radio operator, he won competitions by contacting hundreds of amateur radio operators worldwide.

He was happiest traveling with his family to Italy, St. Maarten, Clearwater Florida, and anywhere there was a warm, beautiful beach. At home he enjoyed tending to his vegetable garden, and fig and lemon trees.

Giovanni is survived by his wife of 56 years, Concetta (Tina) of Westport;  daughters Rina (Thomas) Greco of Guilderland, New York, and Alicia (Joseph) Mioli of Hoboken, New Jersey; grandchildren Louis Greco and Victoria (Justin Valente) Greco; brothers Santo (Sabina) of Mamaroneck, New York, Joseph of Westport and Carmelo (Carrie) Mioli of Westport; his Rita Carolini of Harrison, New York, and many nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews.

A wake will be held on Monday (August 22, 4 to 8 p.m., Harding Funeral Home, , Westport). A funeral mass will be held Tuesday (August 23, 11 a.m., St. Luke Church). Entombment will follow in Willowbrook Cemetery, Westport.

In lieu of flowers, donations to the National Kidney Foundation would be greatly appreciated.  Online donations can be made at http://www.kidney.org.

Giovanni (John) Mioli

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Back to swans (see story above):

Today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature shows one that has not lost its way. Susan Lloyd spotted it, swimming serenely in Muddy Brook:

(Photo/Susan Lloyd)

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And finally … while Aspetuck Land Trust invites you to “think like a tree” (story above), Lerner and Loewe had that idea decades ago. Their musical “Paint Your Wagon” debuted on Broadway in 1951; a film version followed in 1969. Among the songs:

 

Roundup: Bike Giveaway, Adoptable Dogs, Outdoor Art …

In conjunction with its next production — “4000 Miles” — the Westport Country Playhouse will give away a Cannondale Adventure 1 Bike (valued at $960).

It’s a donation from Cycleology Bike & Ski of Westport. The store also donated an RBX classic SS cycling jersey and Cycleology water bottle ($97).

The tie-in? “4000 Miles” (August 23 through September 4) is about a young cyclist. His cross-country trip from the West Coast ends at the Greenwich Village apartment of his feisty 91-year-old grandmother. Their generational divide creates conflict over age, family, love, sex and politics — until they discover an emotional connection that gives each a purpose.

To be eligible to win, submit your name, phone number and email either by purchasing a ticket online, by phone (203-227-4177), or in person for “4000 Miles,” or by filling out an entry form here.

Tickets are not necessary to win. All tickets purchased to “4000 Miles” at any time, including subscription packages, are automatically entered into the giveaway, as long as name, phone number and email were given at the time of purchase. One entry per person; must be age 18 or older.

Westport Country Playhouse bike giveaway.

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As reported earlier this week on “06880,” Lily’s Weston Market now features a Returnable Bin. It’s a hassle-free way to return items bought online

Staff will be on hand today, giving out t-shirts and answering questions about the subscription service.

Lily’s Weston Market’s Returnable Bin.

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Julie Loparo is the proud, pet-friendly president of Westport Animal Shelter Advocates.

Every morning at 8, volunteers and Westport Animal Control officers walk, socialize, feed and medicate the “guests” at Westport Animal Control.

Yesterday morning, after completing their chores early, they decided to treat themselves to the newly opened Old Mill Grocery.

They brought along Brutus and Gaga — 2 dogs available for adoption. Both needed extensive vet care, but thanks to WASA are now healthy.

The dogs enjoyed Old Mill Grocery’s Earth Animal display.

“We at WASA, both canine and human, thank all those involved for saving this gem in Westport,” Julie says.

“We will add it to our other favorite place — The Porch @ Christie’s — for enjoying time with friends. Especially when they are 4-legged and furry.”

Animal control officer Peter Reid, WASA president Julie Loparo, Brutus and Gaga.

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The 2nd annual Outdoor Art Gallery is set for September 10, at the Leonard Schine Natural Playground on Weston Road.

But Aspetuck Land Trust — sponsors of the “art in the woods” event — need art to show.

Any form of art or writing is welcome — so long as it responds to the theme: “What about the birds?”

“Let’s celebrate these small, intelligent creatures that are vital contributors in the preservation of our earth,” the ALT says.

Artists of any type should submit a .jpg of their work (and any other information) to woodlandartexpo@gmail.com. The deadline is September 1.

And don’t worry: All submissions are accepted!

A possible submission for the September Outdoor Art Gallery. (Photo/Lou Weinberg)

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John Richers writes: “On a recent vacation, my wife Valerie Leff and I visited the Nobel Peace Prize Museum in Oslo.

“It featured an exhibit about both courageous journalism and the global plight of refugees. Among only 3 books displayed, one (below) was on photojournalism — by a very familiar name.

“We felt proud of our Westport connection to this courageous photographer!”

Author Lynsey Addario is a 1991 Staples High School graduate — and Pulitzer Prize winner.

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To plan ahead:

Next week’s Remarkable Theater drive-in features are “Paddington 2” and “Goodbye, Columbus.”

The canine film — a 2017 live-action animated comedy — screens on Monday (August 8, 8 p.m.).

The rom-com/drama about a recent college graduate and working-class Army veteran who has an affair with a nouveau riche woman is set for Wednesday (August 10, 8:15 p.m.).

Gates open one hour before both days, for tailgating and socializing. Click here for tickets, and more information.

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Sure, it’s easy to ignore Spooky Town — the Halloween store that has opened already across from Stop & Shop. Even the most ultra-organized mother does not think about her kid’s costume in early August.

And the Christmas music already wafting in the Bridge Square Dunkin’ Donuts — that’s a joke, right?

But check out this flyer that landed in yesterday’s mail:

“happy Labor Day!!” — Planet Pizza is serious.

Start planning that picnic already. Only 30 days left to order!

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The gulls were here first. And ever since the brick pavilion was built at Compo Beach, they’ve made it their home.

It’s a classic “Westport … Naturally” scene. And it will be, for decades to come.

(Photo/Ellen Wentworth)

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And finally … in honor of the Westport Country Playhouse’s bike giveaway (story above), let’s start working our way up to that 4,000-mile ride.

Ta-da! We did it! We even went 78 miles over!

 

(“06880” is supported entirely by readers. Please click here to contribute.)

Roundup: Lynsey Addario, Lunch And Learn, Co-Working …

This fall, New York’s School of Visual arts honors Lynsey Addario.

The New York Times photojournalist, MacArthur genius grant and Pulitzer Prize recipient — and 1991 Staples High School graduate —  takes part in the 32nd annual Masters Series Award and Exhibition.

“The Masters Series: Lynsey Addario” will be a comprehensive retrospective of her fearless, 2-decade journey documenting humanitarian issues around the globe.

The free exhibition runs from September 2 through October 29. Addario gives a special talk on September 9.

The exhibit showcases the photographers’ career, from Afghanistan and Iraq to Congo, Libya, Somalia, Syria, South Sudan, and most recently, Ukraine. She brings a strong focus on women’s issues to her work, including gender-based violence and rape as a weapon of war.

Addario is the author of Of Love and War, a solo collection of photography, and the best-selling memoir It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War.

Click here for the CVA website on the exhibition.

in the early days after the Russian invasion, Lynsey Addario’s photo of this bombed-out apartment building in Kyiv brought the war’s reality to people around the globe. (Photo/Lynsey Addario for The New York Times)

Screenshot of Lynsey Addario from “Firing Line.”

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You’re never too old to “lunch and learn.” Even in August.

Aspetuck Land Trust announces 2 upcoming sessions.

“Green Corridor: From Vision to Reality” (Wednesday, August 10, noon to 1 p.m.). features director of landowner engagement. Mary Ellen Lemay. She’ll explain why the Green Corridor initiative helps heal the fragmented and toxic landscape that surrounds us.

Using simple eco-friendly steps in yards and other private properties, the Green Corridor allows species to move across the landscape, improving biodiversity. Click here to register.

At “Think Like a Forest” (Friday, August 26, noon to 1 p.m.), Anna Fialkoff explains how planting native trees supports local food webs. Benefits include
purifying air, shading and cooling in hot weather, storing atmospheric carbon, minimizing flooding and storm water runoff, and helping sustain vital pollinators, birds and other wildlife. Click here to register.

And you thought there were no holidays in August!

This coming Tuesday (August 9) is International Co-Working Day.

To celebrate, Office Evolution — the great, airy, flexible and filled-with-all-you-need space at 500 Post Road East (opposite Westport Fire Department headquarters) offers free one-day passes to anyone looking for a new work environment.

The holiday is Tuesday, but the offer is good all next week (August 8-12).

For more information, email Westport.CT@officeevolution.com, or call 203-635-8770. Click here for the Westport website.

Westport Office Evolution owner Laura Kaufman (left) and business center manager Lindy Steinorth, when Office Evolution opened in 2019.

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The eagle landed yesterday at Compo Beach — and posted majestically for its “Westport … Naturally” shot.

(Photo/David Anastasia)

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And finally … in honor of International Co-Working Day (story above):

Roundup: Bill Kutik Preserve, MoCA Piglet, Staples ’62 …

Aspetuck Land Trust’s first capital campaign had an ambitious goal: $4.2 million.

The results are in. The non-profit — dedicated to preserving and conserving open space — blew past that figure. They raised $5.6 million.

Funds will help buy more open space, adding to more than 2,000 acres in Westport and 4 neighboring towns. Most is open to the public.

Contributions also support “homeowner engagement.” ALT helps residents make their yards more biodiverse, and become connectors between preserves. Over 1,000 homeowners have already taken the “Green Corridor pledge,” planting more native species and using fewer insecticides om smaller lawns.

At last week’s 56th annual meeting, president Bill Kraekel announced 2 named reserves. For the first time, naming rights were sold in the capital campaign.

Westporter Bill Kutik made a major donation, to save a preserve on the Weston/Wilton border. A developer had approvals, and was preparing a 2,000-foot driveway with utility poles for cars and service vehicles.

Bill Kutik Honey Hill Preserve

It would have sliced through the center of Honey Hill Preserve’s 119 acres of 19th– century farm land (now forest), to a remote 10-acre parcel he owns bordering the preserve. ALT acquired the land. The newly named Bill Kutik Honey Hill Preserve recognizes his contribution.

Kutik — founding editor of Backpacker Magazine, and a reporter for the New York Times and Daily News — moved to Westport in 1997. He hiked newly opened Trout Brook Valley, and was amazed to find there was no charge. He began contributing ever-larger amounts, “in lieu of entry fees.”

The other named preserve is the Daniel E. Offutt Forest Reserve Gateway. The 85-acres of Weston forest were purchased from the town, with proceeds from his will.

Bill Kutik (Photo/Nancy Moon)

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Yesterday’s MoCA Westport Family Day included a visit from the world-famous deaf and blind dog Piglet, and his owner Melissa Shapiro. She talked about The Piglet Mindset, a global movement for acceptance, inclusion, empathy and kindness.

Norwalk artist 5iveFingaz created a mural featuring Piglet. Guests also explored “Spark” (the Westport Public Schools art exhibition). and enjoyed an art activity and ice cream truck.

5iveFingaz, his Piglet art and a young fan. (Photo/Leslie LaSala)

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The Staples High School Class of 1962 grew up in post-war Westport.

They remember Saugatuck before I-95 came through, and the bathhouses at Compo Beach. They attended Staples when it was brand new, and Bedford Elementary before it became Town Hall.

Last night, they held a mini-reunion at Ned Dimes Marina. COVID knocked out plans for a big bash. But classmates came from New York, Florida and points in between for the casual event.

Now in their late 70s, the men and women of ’62 graduated in a far different time. It was a great time, they said.

And they looked great, too!

These 5 women were classmates at Staples High School — and at the original Saugatuck Elementary School on Bridge Street. From left: Loretta Santella Hallock, Donna Esposito Hughes, Wanda Tedesco, Pam Barkentin, Mary Ann Saponare Stirling.

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Six decades later — last night, in fact — the Wilton High School Class of 2022 graduated.

They don’t have their own beach. So early this morning — we’re talking 5:30 a.m. — they headed to Compo to celebrate.

Congratulations, Warriors. Maybe you can gather at the Ned Dimes Marina too for your 60th reunion, in 2082.

(Photo/Paula Schooler)

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Nature can be beautiful. It can also be dog-eat-dog.

Or as in this “Wesport … Naturally” photo — it’s bird-eat-dinner.

As photographer Susan Leone points out, this creature really had its prey “in tow.”

(Photo/Susan Leone)

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finally … a few tickets remain for tonight’s special Levitt Pavilion concert with Michael Franti & Spearhead. If you like hip hop blended with funk, reggae, jazz, folk and rock, click here.

PS: The opening act is Tropidelic. Like their name, they’re another sunshiny band.

(Please click here to support “06880.” We are entirely reader funded!)

Long Lots Preserve: Legacy Project Enhances Gardens’ Lure

Discussions have begun on the future of Long Lots Elementary School. Renovate on its present location? Construct a new building on the athletic fields north of the current site?

Debate will likely be loud and long.

A few yards south though, peace and quiet prevail.

The Community Gardens — 2-plus acres with 100 plots where people of all ages grow fruit, vegetables, flowers, herbs and grasses; gather in a common space with a pergola, picnic table, grape vines, bocce court and Adirondack chairs, and enjoy birds, butterflies and pollinating bees — are one of Westport’s hidden-in-plain-sight jewels.

Taking a social break at the Westport Community Gardens.

Now, they’re getting even more gorgeous.

And more environmentally sustainable.

Before work began, invasive vines choked trees.

A 4-phase project just beyond the gardens will create a new preserve. It will turn unmaintained, forested open space — once the Jaeger family greenhouses, now inundated with aggressive invasive plants and shrubs, and tree-destroying vines — into a haven for native species.

The Long Lots Preserve will curve around the Westport Community Gardens. Hyde Lane is at top right; Long Lots School is at left, with parking top center.

Work began in April. Robbie Guimond bulldozed — at no charge — an area filled with mugwort.

Also at no cost, A.J. Penna & Son dug holes for 11 new trees.

AJ Penna workers digging holes for new trees.

Doug Williams of Bartlett Tree Experts took out 4 tree of heavens, a particularly invasive species with “absolutely no wildlife value,” according to Lou Weinberg.

A Bartlett crew removes an invasive tree of heaven.

He’s dedicated 18 years to the Community Gardens. Now its chair, Weinberg is the driving force behind the Long Lots Preserve. He’s getting help from environmentalists like Charlie Stebbins of the Smith Richardson Preserve, and Community Gardener Frank Rosen.

A 15-person team is overseeing the project. Many contribute countless hours of volunteer labor.

Community Gardens member Joe Wiles works on the Long Lots Preserve.

Phase 1 will involve planting native trees like river birch, pin oak, serviceberry, white pine, tupelo, white spruce and tulip poplar. Then come shrubs like viburnum, elderberry and northern bayberry.

The weed suppression team (from left0: Lou Weinberg, Darryle Kowalsky, Frank Rosen, Julie O’Grady, Andrew Coleman.

Phase 2, set for this fall, consists of a 180 by 50-yard area on the south side, where mugwort, Japanese stiltgrass and wineberry have taken over. As with Phase 1, native species like oak and sycamore will replace invasives. Aspetuck Land Trust and the Audubon Society will help guide the effort.

Next spring’s Phase 3 — way back, in the wet southwest corner — will involve swamp oaks. Phase 4 follows in the fall of 2023, along the western side of the gardens.

Click here for more details on each phase.

It won’t take long for these new trees to grow.

Long Lots Preserve will be a rich ecological oasis, providing food and habitat for pollinators, local and migrating birds, and other wildlife. Along the way, it will become a model for suburban open space rehabilitation.

Like the invasive plants that have taken over the garden’s perimeter, the benefits keep growing. They include: adding to the Aspetuck Land Trust’s Green Corridor; contributing to the national Pollinator Pathway; providing educational opportunities to students; raising property values; supporting the Westport Tree Board and Sustainable Westport’s missions — and of course enhancing the beauty of the area.

“This is a legacy project,” Weinberg says with pride. “It will benefit the town for generations to come.”

Long Lots Preserve is a 501(c)(3) non-profit. Click here for more information, and to contribute.

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