Tag Archives: Westport Community Gardens

Roundup: [UPDATE] Book Display, Book Sale, Wine …

[UPDATE] Several readers have pointed to a Westport Journal story that includes a photo of the banned book display at the Staples High School library. The book covers are exhibited, and students could browse the contents.

I have removed a story posted earlier today, citing a reader who emailed me saying she had changed her mind about the display, after learning that the book jackets had been covered.

That appears to be erroneous information. I have deleted this story, and will also remove other comments pertaining to it.

I apologize for posting her story.

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The “garden” part of Westport Community Gardens is clear to anyone wandering by the 100 plots just south of Long Lots Elementary School. They’re beautiful, and bountiful.

But the “community” part is just as important. Led by Lou Weinberg — and with plenty of help from everyone else — there’s as much camaraderie and spirit as there are vegetables, flowers and birds.

Yesterday, the Gardens community celebrated with a fall harvest party. Dozens of families shared friendship, music, pizza, gelato — and of course, plenty of salads.

Community Gardens fall harvest party.

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No, you did not miss the Westport Library’s summer book sale.

The mega-event has been moved to fall. This year, it’s Friday, November 11 through Monday, November 14.

There are thousands of gently used books for children and adults in over 50 categories: non-fiction, fiction, romance, cookbooks, antiquarian, plus music CDs, and movie and TV series DVDs. Also, “a limited selection of artworks and ephemera.” 

Westport resident Joseph Califano — President Carter’s Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare — has donated dozens of books signed and inscribed to him, from his personal library.

There’s a new “Fiction for $1 Room”: an entire conference room filled with hardcover fiction, mystery, science fiction, fantasy, young adult fiction and paperback novels — all just $1 each.

Also: a large selection of holiday-themed books, CDs and DVDs. Crank up that Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer!

Click here for information on prices, hours (and early-bird access).

Westport Library book sale.

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Last night’s hunter’s moon was gorgeous.

“06880” readers sent plenty of photos. Here’s the view from Sherwood Mill Pond …

(Photo/Matt Murray)

… and Long Island Sound:

(Photo/Andrew Colabella)

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Westporters love wine.

Which is why the Sunrise Rotary Club’s next event is such a winner.

“Westport Uncorked” (November 18, 6:30 p.m., the Inn at Longshore) is “a wonderful evening of dozens of fine wines (and heavy hors d’oeuvres).

Every dollar raised goes directly to charities supported by Sunrise Rotary. Click here for tickets, and more information.

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Staples High School Class of 1978 graduate Dave Ruden served as chair emeritus of this year’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s. He lost his mother to the disease.

Ruden’s day job is publisher of The Ruden Report — the go-to multi-platform site for coverage of Fairfield County sports. So he put out the word to all 16 FCIAC schools — asking all sports, all seasons to help.

Over 60 responded, raising funds and walking yesterday at Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk.

Among them: Staples baseball, cheer, boys ice hockey and girls tennis volleyball.

The Staples boys soccer program participated too — big time. Led by tri-captain Alex Laskin, they raised $9,428. That was the most of any FCIAC team — and 5th highest, among the 284 groups that raised funds.

Way to go, all you Wreckers!

Boys soccer varsity team, at the Alzheimer’s Walk. (Photo/Mark Sikorski)

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Speaking of sports: On Election Day night, you may be cheering or crying.

Earlier in the day, your kids will definitely cheer.

That is, if they’re part of the Staples High School cheer team’s clinic (November 8, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.). It’s open to children in grades kindergarten through 8 (

The $75 fee includes lunch and a t-shirt. It’s a fundraiser for the team. Click here to register, and for more information.

The Staples High School cheer team.

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“The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Man” — Paul Newman’s memoir — will be published October 18.

Next month (November 20, 3 p.m.), it’s the topic of a Westport Country Playhouse discussion.

Who better to talk about the beloved actor/philanthropist/race car driver — and longtime Westporter — than Melissa Newman? She wrote the book’s foreword — and is his daughter.

She’ll be joined by Anne Keefe, Playhouse associate artist, who served WCP co-artistic director with Newman’s wife, actor Joanne Woodward.

An audience Q-and-A will follow the talk.

Tickets are $45, and include a copy of the book. To purchase, and for more information, click here.

Melissa Newman

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In August, “06880” reported on Steve Bannon’s podcast about Westport. The segment alleged that our town is run by an “unelected Marxist Politburo.”

It included an interview with the editor of CD Media. The initials stand for “Creative Destruction,” which is “reopening newspapers up and down the Colonies.”

CD Media’s chief investigative correspondent and senior editor Christine Dolan comes to Westport on November 1 (6:45 p.m., Westport Library). She’ll bring her “American Conversation” series, to discuss “How Public Policy is Putting Our Children at Risk.” The event is co-sponsored by Children’s Health Defense, the anti-vaccine group chaired by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Among the topics her panel will address:

  • “Significant increase in child human trafficking”
  • “Exponential increase in youth deaths from fentanyl”
  • “Alarming increase in suicides of young people”
  • “Decrease in mastery of basic academic skills.”

Click here for tickets and more information. (Hat tip: Tom Prince)

Promotional photo for CD Media’s November 1 event.

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Soccer’s World Cup kicks off next month, in Qatar.

Games will be played primarily from what is early morning to mid-afternoon, Eastern Standard Time. An “06880” reader named Fernando asks:

“What are the bars and other places in the area that will be open for all the matches? Are there any places that did this in 2018 that can be counted on to do it again, or new venues that will do so?”

If you know the answer, click “Comments” below.

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The praying mantis is Connecticut’s state insect. (I know, I know …)

A pair of “06880” readers had the same idea this weekend: send a photo, for “Westport … Naturally”:

(Photo/Ken Yormark)

(Photo/Jill Grayson)

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And finally … contrary to what I learned in school, Christopher Columbus did not “discover” America. It was already here — and was home to a thriving population.

It took hundreds of years, but today we celebrate the indigenous people of North America — those millions  who were here first.

Grow A Row!

Despite this summer’s lack of rain, many home gardens are at their peak right now. Tomatoes, zucchini, other seasonal delights — they’re all ripe.

Some gardeners may actually have too much produce. They give it to neighbors — and still have extra food.

Every problem has a solution. This one is easy.

Grow-A-Row Westport is a volunteer effort to grow and donate fresh produce. Since 2020 members have planted, tended, harvested, and collected nutritious donations of fresh fruits vegetables, and herbs to benefit food-insecure people and families throughout Fairfield County.

Bounty from the Westport Community Gardens.

Amy Unikewicz runs Grow-A-Row Westport. The program began in the spring of 2020 at the Westport Community Gardens, during the early COVID lockdown.

The idea was simple: encourage fellow Community Gardens members to grow an extra row (or more) to donate.

She set-up a large cooler. All season long, gardeners filled it with freshly harvested items. Several members helped transport over 200 grocery bags were donated to the Center for Food Equity and Economic Development (FEED) in Bridgeport.

Westport continues to sustain the effort. Early on, Pippa Bell Ader of the Zero Food Waste Initiative and Sustainable Westport, and Aileen Brill of Christ & Holy Trinity Church, helped with logistics.

Last year Pippa connected Amy with Westporter Haley Schulman — national site coordinator with Food Rescue US – Fairfield County, a non-profit that picks up otherwise-wasted food from restaurants and supermarkets, and delivers it to pantries and shelters.

Haley — also a Wakeman Town Farm committee member — loved Amy’s idea to expand Grow-A-Row Westport beyond the Community Gardens.

They met Lori Cochran, director of the Westport Farmers’ Market. She championed the idea of a Grow-A-Row community collection cooler every Thursday at the Imperial Avenue parking lot.

By the donation cooler at the Westport Farmers’ Marker: Lori Cochran, WFM director; Amanda Sayegh, Westport Housing Authority director of programs and resident services; Amy Unikewicz, Grow-A-Row Westport founder; Haley Schulman, national site coordinator with Food Rescue US – Fairfield County, and Food Rescue US volunteers, Jennifer Seideman, Darryl Kowalsky and Susie Kowalsky.

The Wakeman Town Farm Committee supported Grow-A-Row collections at their weekly farm stand too.

Haley committed Food Rescue US – Fairfield County’s network of volunteers to transport the fresh produce, and found agencies that are a good fit for the collections.

Grow-a-Row at Wakeman Town Farm.

Now in its third year, the expanded Grow-A-Row Westport effort continues to, um, grow.

All home gardeners are invited to donate at any of 3 drop-off spots:

  • Thursdays (10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Westport Farmers’ Market, Imperial Avenue lot)
  • Saturdays (9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Wakeman Town Farm farm stand, 134 Cross Highway)
  • Daily (8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Christ & Holy Trinity Church Branson Hall, 75 Church Lane).

Westporter Cornelia Olson donates a huge rutabaga.

Not a gardener? Grow-A-Row gladly accepts fresh produce from your CSA, refrigerator, even “freshly-purchased” at the Farmers’ Market or Wakeman Farm Stand.

Each week, volunteers with Food Rescue US – Fairfield County deliver the donated produce to agencies in Bridgeport and Westport, including: FEED Center, Lucy Baney Family Reunification Center at Career Resources CT, Fridgeport (Bridgeport’s first community fridge), and the Westport Housing Authority.

Westport Housing Authority director of programs and resident services Amanda Sayegh says that residents are very appreciative of the fresh donations. They’re shared among 221 families, including seniors and families with children, and prioritized to the most food-insecure residents.

“Fresh vegetables are considered a luxury for many,” Amanda says. One resident was “thrilled” to receive fresh lettuce — something they had not been able to purchase for a long time.

You may shake your head, wondering how you’ll get rid of all that lettuce.

Now you know: Grow-A-Row!

(For more information, follow @growarowwestport on Instagram.)

(Want to help “06880” grow? Please click here to donate!)

Joe Stadek lives in Ridgefield — and donates to Westport’s Grow-a-Row project. (All photos courtesy of Amy Unikewicz)

Roundup: Fireworks, Farmers’ Market, Falsettoland …

Heading to the fireworks tomorrow?

“06880” wants your photos!

Picnics and barbecues; kids with sparklers; parties; red-white-and-blue outfits — share your patriotic spirit.

The only thing we don’t want is photos of the actual fireworks, bursting in air. Anyone can see those images anywhere

Send anything else via email: 06880blog@gmail.com. Deadline is 11 p.m. tomorrow.

Here’s looking at you, America!

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If local farmers grow it, you can buy it at the Westport Farmers’ Market.

And if you grow it — and have too much of it — the Market wants it.

Extra lettuce, tomatoes, zucchini, whatever — donate it, through the WFM and Grow-a-Row.

Grow-A-Row is a volunteer effort to grow and donate fresh local seasonal produce to food-insecure populations in Fairfield County. Based at the Westport Community Gardens, Grow-A-Row plants, tends, harvests and collects nutritious donations of fresh produce and herbs, then delivers it directly to agencies in need.

You don’t even need to grow it yourself, though. If you bought too much fresh produce, bring it too.

Deliveries are at the Farmers’ Market (Imperial Avenue parking lot), any Thursday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Produce will be delivered by Food Rescue US – Fairfield County volunteers. The Bridgeport FEED Center, Fridgport, Career Resources CT, and Westport Housing Authority will receive the donations.

If your cup (and table) runneth over, donate produce to Grow-a-Row, at the Westport Farmers’ Market.

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Music Theater of Connecticut’s stirring production of “Falsettoland” — starring a Westport father-and-son acting duo — took top honors at Monday’s Connecticut Critics Circle Awards. The event, which celebrates work from the state’s professional theaters during the 2021–22 season, was held at Long Wharf Theatre.

Westport’s Dan Sklar won Outstanding Actor in a Musical. His son Ari was honored for Outstanding Debut.

Kevin Connors was named Top Director for “Falsettolands.” He also earned the Tom Killen Award, for lifetime service to the theater.

The Westport Country Playhouse was cited too. Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical went to Daniel J. Maldonado for “Next to Normal”; Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play was won by Sharina Martin, for “Doubt.”

Congratulations to all!

From left: Dan Sklar and Ari Sklar.

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Speaking of awards: “The Lisa Wexler Show,” hosted by Westport’s own, won 1st place for Best Radio Interview at the National Federation of Press Women’s awards ceremony on Saturday in Fargo, North Dakota.

The honor was for Wexler’s live interview with Congressman Jim Himes on January 7, 2021, just hours after he had spent the night at the Capitol following the January 6 riot. Click here to hear the show.

“The Lisa Wexler Show” is broadcast weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon on AM WICC, AM 600 and 107.3 FM.

Lisa Wexler

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The cell tower saga continues.

An application by Tarpon Towers to build a 124-foot structure on private property at 92 Greens Farms Road was filed with the state on May 26. The town of Westport received notice of this filing and is coordinating logistics with the applicant.

Town officials notified Tarpon of a desire to explore an alternative site along the railroad right of way, and is trying to get the state Department of Transportation to approve that site. Information is available on the Connecticut Siting Council’s website.

A public hearing is scheduled for August 9. A final decision is expected a month or two later. (Hat tip: Stephen Goldstein)

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

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If the fireworks are not for you, but you don’t want to stay home tomorrow (Thursday, June 30), consider Jazz at the Post.

Guitar master Paul Bollenback headlines this week’s 2 shows at VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399 (465 Riverside Avenue, 7 p.m. and 9 p.m.; $10 cover). He’s joined by Mark Lewandowski (bass), Jason Tiemann (drums) and the Jazz Rabbi himself, saxophonist Greg Wall.

In addition to cool jazz, there’s a hot new menu from chef Derek Furino (from 6:30 p.m. on). Reservations are strongly suggested: jazzatthepost@gmail.com.

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The Westport PBA Scholarship Fund helps college-bound children of our Police Department. Two scholarships are also awarded to Staples High School seniors who will pursue degrees in law enforcement.

Major funding comes from an annual golf tournament. This year’s is set for July 18, at Tashua Knolls in Trumbull.

It’s a scramble tournament, shotgun start. The day includes breakfast, the tourney itself (9 a.m.), and a cocktail reception with open bar (1 to 3 p.m.).

There’s a 50/50 raffle, other raffle prizes, and prizes for longest drive, closest to pin, closest to line, and the winning foursome.

The cost is $250 per golfer. Sponsorships are available at the $1,000, $3,000, $5,000 and $10,000 levels. Checks should be sent to the Westport PBA Scholarship Fund, 50 Jesup Road, Westport, CT 06880. Questions? Email jlauria@westportct.gov, or call 203-803-0215.

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They can’t believe it’s time. But Staples High School’s Class of 1972 holds its 50th reunion September 9-11. Events include a Saturday night dinner at the Gaelic-American Club in Fairfield. with music by the Reunion Band. There’s an informal gathering Friday night at the Black Duck, and a get-together Sunday at Compo Beach. For more information and reservations, click here.

1972 Staples High School yearbook

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Osprey alert!

Carolyn Doan writes:

“I just returned from Block Island for a few days. Even in that short time, these guys grew so much. The chicks are exercising their wings and getting ready to fledge (if they haven’t already.) I didn’t see them lift up from the nest today, but they are ready!”

(Photo/Carolyn Doan)

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Westport has one less nail salon.

Luxe Nail Spa — in the shopping plaza opposite Fresh Market — has closed, reportedly due to high rent. The owners are seeking a new location, perhaps in Stamford.

Luxe nail opened in 2015. It is now closed.

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Staples High School Class of 2019 graduate and former Saugatuck Rowing Club member Justin Schmidt is part of a team that beat the defending men’s lightweight quadruple sculls 2 weeks ago in Florida. They’ll represent the US at the U23 World Rowing Championships next month in Varese, Italy.

Schmidt now rows at the University of Delaware. He and his Conshohocken Rowing Center teammates have set up a GoFundMe page, to help offset costs of the trip. Click here to help.

Justin Schmidt (3rd from left), with teammates and coaches.

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Carol Fisher died in her Westport home on Sunday. She was 94, and had fought Parkinson’s disease for a decade.

The New York City native graduated from  Queens  College at age 19. She worked at Little Golden Books and for a movie magazine before taking a job as acquisitions editor at Pyramid Books. There she developed and edited a book by Peter Max, plus health-focused cookbooks and short biographies of movie stars. Pyramid Books became, as a result of her efforts, the US publisher of  bestselling author Barbara Cartland.  Carol  also worked as an editor at Harcourt Brace.

Her life changed in 1978, when she married longtime Westport resident Milton Fisher, an attorney, investment banker, author,  and teacher of the popular Applied Creativity adult education class.

Together they founded Wildcat Publishing Company. Carol brought her editorial skills and experience to the publication of books including the  Holocaust memoir Dry Tears, by Nechama Tec,  a resistance classic, and The Fall of Japan by Westporter William Craig.

Carol Fisher was a devoted participant in and organizer of stimulating programs at the Westport Senior Center, Westport-Weston Arts Council, and Westport Library. The Senior Center recognized her efforts to enliven and improves the lives of seniors with a Service to Seniors Award in 2013.

As executive director  of the Renée B. Fisher Foundation, she was instrumental in creating and sustaining  initiatives including Milton Fisher Scholarship for Innovation and Creativity,  the annual Renée B. Fisher Piano Competition, and the Books for Teachers program  that has built thousands of classroom libraries in under-resourced schools across the country. The Pequot Library in Southport, where the program began, remains its flagship program.

Carol Fisher was an enthusiastic member of several book clubs and a movie discussion club, and was also an avid bridge player. She was a member of the Westport Rotary Club, and a longtime member of Temple Israel.

She loved hosting multi-generational gatherings on Thanksgiving and Passover every year, as well as month-long family reunions during summers. The last gathering she hosted coincided with her 94th birthday this year.

She was predeceased by her husband Milton and brother Leonard Plaine. Carol Fisher is survived by her stepdaughter Shelley (James Fishkin) Fisher Fishkin,  grandchildren Joseph and Robert Fishkin, and great-grandchildren Anna Ardith Fishkin Franklin and Simon Asher Fishkin Franklin, all of California. 

A private virtual memorial service is planned for late summer. Friends interested in attending should email sfishkin@stanford.edu. Contributions in Carol’s memory may be sent to the Anti-Defamation League.

Carol Fisher

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Eileen Lavigne Flug spotted these “Westport … Naturally” birds early the other morning, along Soundview Drive.

Wonder if they got the worms …

(Photo/Eileen Lavigne Flug)

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And finally … in honor of “Falsettoland”‘s honors from the Connecticut Critics Circle (story above), enjoy this bit of that memorable musical:

 

 

 

 

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.

(“06880 relies on donations from readers like you. Please click here to help.)

Roundup: Community Gardens, Jeff Clachko, Cote Manche …

It was a groundbreaking weekend at Westport Community Gardens.

Literally.

Work began on the Long Lots Preserve — the area surrounding the 100 plots lovingly tended to on Hyde Lane, where a true “community” of gardeners has grown.

However, the property is overrun with invasive plants. They’re being removed now. Soon, the area will be densely planted with native, pollinator-friendly trees, shrubs, wildflowers and wild grass, making it more ecologically sound.

Stakeholders include the Audubon Society, Aspetuck Land Trust, Earthplace and Westport Community Gardens.

Robbie Guimond and Bartlett Tree Service provided in-kind donation, to get the project off the ground.

Taking a break from working at the Westport Community Gardens (from left): Jeff Wieser, Daryl Kowalsky, Louis Weinberg, Joe Wiles..

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Many Westporters know Jeff Clachko. He’s very involved in many local activities. And he has a great sense of humor.

So when he had a close encounter of a deer kind — and realized it was captured by his Ring video — he quickly put it online.

Just as quickly, it went viral. As of last night, it had 8 million views.

And when “06880” readers click this TMZ link, there will be many more. Be sure the audio is cranked up high! (Hat tip: Amy Hochhauser)

Closeup of a screenshot: deer (left) and Jeff Clachko (right).

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Saturday’s Roundup item on the 2022 Westport PAL scholarship recipients was noticeable for 2 things: They’re a great group of Staples High School students.

And they’re all male.

Several readers wondered about that in the Comments section. I did too.

I asked PAL president Craig Bergamo. He quickly replied: “No girls applied this year. If they had, they would have gotten scholarships too.”

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Earlier this month, a ceremony in France honored a long-forgotten (at least here) Westport woman. Charlotte MacLear — a driving force behind our town’s friendship with Marigny, in the 20 years following World War II — were commemorated by officials in the Normandy village. They named a room in their Town Hall in her honor.

Now the event has been noted in a local website, Coté Manche. Click here for the site; then use Google Translate to read.

The new Charlotte MacLear room at Marigny Town Hall.

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The Staples rugby team battled the top teams in the nation — along with injuries and the flu — at this weekend’s national tournament in Elkhart, Indiana.

But they finished 7th in the country. And when their bus pulled off I-95 at Exit 18 yesterday afternoon, they enjoyed a police escort back to the high school.

Congratulations, Wreckers. You’ve done us proud!

On the Sherwood Island Connector. (Photo/Doug Tirola)

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It was a beautiful weekend for walking. On Beachside Avenue, Barbara Phillips spotted this gorgeous bird. It’s a handsome start to our “Westport … Naturally” week.

(Photo/Barbara Phillips)

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And finally …  today is the birthday of Robert Moog. The inventor of the famed synthesizer was born in 1934. He died in 2005. But his impact will last for a long, long time.

Roundup: Community Garden, Dog Fest, More Marathon …

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The Westport Community Gardens are one of our town’s true hidden gems.

Located just south of Long Lots Elementary School, they’re more than a place to grow fruit, vegetables and flowers — though the dozens of plots are great for that.

It’s also (as the name says) a true community. Gardeners trade tips, bounty and gossip. They socialize, and throw parties. They nurture the soil, and friendships.

A few openings may come up soon. Some more may be available next spring. Westport residents and Westport town employees are eligible. To get on the waitlist, click here.

Remember: The early bird gets the worm.

Taking a quick break at the Westport Community Gardens.

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Among the winners at yesterday’s Dog Festival: Oliver, with best trick. He did a few sits, downs and shakes. His grand finale was a “big baby”: He jumped into owner Scott Martin’s arms.

Afterward, he posed (below) with Scott Martin, and kids Cody and Emrys Martin.

Missed all the action? What a bitch!

But the next Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce-sponsored Dog Fest is less than a year away. In 2022, it returns to its regular spring slot.

(Photo/Kelsey Martin)

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Yesterday’s Roundup highlighted Todd Suchotliff. A newcomer to town, he’ll be running during next Sunday’s New York Marathon — through Westport. It’s a fundraiser for his mother, who died of leukemia 9 years ago tomorrow.

He created a Google Sheet — with mile markers and approximate times — for people to sign up to run or cheer for each mile along the route. He will start at 9 a.m., and plans to run an 8:42 mile pace.

For more information, email coachtoddwestport@gmail.com. To donate to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, click here.

Todd Suchotliff and his kids.

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Bamboo grows wild — and rapidly — in Westport.

I wrote about it in 2013. It continues today, as this “Westport … Naturally” photo from Narrow Rocks Road, off South Compo, shows.

(Photo/June Rose Whittaker)

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And finally … happy 74th birthday to Laura Nyro. The singer/songwriter made many great recordings. But she’s best known for the many artists that had great success covering her tunes.

JC Martin adds: “Laura lived in Danbury for many years, and recorded some of her last material in a studio she built on her property. It was one of the first studios to have a separate floor for the drummer, detached from the rest of the band. For ‘Mother’s Spiritual’ she brought in Todd Rundgren to help produce some of those songs, along with her friend and Danbury neighbor Felix Cavaliere.

“She died of ovarian cancer in Danbury in 1997, at 49. Her ashes were scattered beneath a maple tree on the grounds of her house.”

Hey, Gardeners! Grow Your Own — And Share

The Westport Community Gardens is a wonderful place. Dozens of gardeners — from  families with little children to folks in their 80s — grow fruit, vegetables, flowers, herbs and grasses, in all kinds of designs and configurations.

They joyfully share their bounty with others. The Grow-A-Row fresh food  initiative encourages gardeners to grow an extra row — or more — to donate.

Last year the program donated nearly 100 grocery bags loaded with fresh, organically grown produce to the The Center for Food Equity and Economic Development (FEED) in Bridgeport. Their culinary training program team prepares the donated food, distributes meals to soup kitchens throughout Bridgeport, and runs a food truck to reach neighborhoods that lack access to fresh food.

Some of the food donations grown and collected at the Westport Community Garden through the Grow-A-Row initiative last  summer.

This year, Grow-A-Row — with partners Sustainable Westport and the Zero Food Waste Initiative — invites all Westport home gardeners, everywhere in town, to participate.

They’ll even get you started, with seeds.

The Grow-A-Row Project received a generous donation of vegetable seeds from the University of Connecticut Extension Master Gardeners Program. They include radishes, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, okra and squashes. Seeds are available for pickup at Branson Hall, at Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church.

Seeds are limited to first come, first served. But all home gardeners in Westport are welcome to donate whatever they grow.

Once harvested, all fresh produce and herb donations can be dropped off at Branson Hall.

Questions? Email amyunikewicz@gmail.com.

Back To The Garden

Joni Mitchell was right. After a winter of snow — and a year of COVID — we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.

And there’s no better place than the Westport Community Gardens.

There — just a few hoe-lengths away from Long Lots Elementary School — 100 or so gardeners grow fruit, vegetables, flowers, herbs and grasses, in a wonderful array of designs and configurations.

Some are families with young children. Some are folks in their 80s. Some are experienced gardeners; others know little, but learn from them. All form a helpful, happy — and very well-fed — community.

Gardens plots are available to town residents and town employees. After the internal allocation ends March 1, any remaining plots are allocated to the wait list.

The gardens are deer-proof. Water is available.

Grow the tomatoes you’ve dreamed of — or any other fruits, vegetables and flowers you’ve wanted to try.

Families find a home at the Community Gardens. Supervised children are  welcome — and encouraged.

There’s even a bocce court.

Click here to join the wait list. After all: You are stardust. You are golden. You’ve got to get yourself back to the garden.

(Photos/Lou Weinberg)

Photo Challenge #318

Last week’s Photo Challenge was like the Bernie meme: It showed up everywhere.

People thought the photo of a lonely looking fence — 2 sections surrounded by empty space, protecting nothing — was all over town.

The Wakeman athletic fields, North Compo Little League diamonds, Longshore lower parking lot, back of Town Hall, Imperial Avenue lot — so many places that poor fence could be.

The photographer’s name — Lou Weinberg — should have given it away, though. He’s the chair of Westport’s Community Gardens.

That’s the big, beautiful space just south of Long Lots Elementary School. Coincidentally, it’s the former site of the Jaeger family greenhouses — but Jalna Jaeger says the fence was not there when they owned the property.

It’s where families with little children, folks in their 80s and everyone in between grows fruit, vegetables, flowers, herbs and grasses, in all kinds of designs and configurations.

And where, presumably, they all marvel at the wonders and mysteries of life — including this gate to nowhere. (Click here to see.)

Correct answers came from Diane Bosch, Elaine Marino, Joyce Barnhart, Bronwyn Cousins and Phil Rubin. Like everyone else — green and kiss-of-death thumbs alike — they anxiously await the arrival of spring.

In the meantime, if you know where in Westport you’d see this week’s Photo Challenge, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Rich Stein)

Visitors Interrupt Compo Wedding Ceremony

One of the joys of Westport is a wedding on the beach.

Many of us have been thrilled, at random moments, to see a couple sharing vows on the shore. We have no idea who they are, but it makes our day.

One of the joys of Lou Weinberg’s wedding on the beach yesterday was an unexpected visitor.

The wedding party, on a Compo Beach jetty.

Lou was married there yesterday. As assistant town attorney (and justice of the peace) Eileen Lavigne Flug performed the ceremony, she noticed the sand moving.

Eileen Lavigne Flug, flanked by the newlyweds.

Turtles were hatching.

Suddenly, 7 little ones — diamondback terrapins, Lou thinks — emerged.

5 of the 7 baby turtles.

“It was perfect,” Lou says, “I’m a nature boy.” (In his spare time, Lou volunteers as chair of the Westport Community Gardens.)

Lou then went one step further. Right after the wedding, he called Dan DeVito at the Parks & Recreation Department. Quickly, Dan called down to the beach. Within moments, an employee strung caution tape around the area.

Lou thought this would make a nice story. He also hopes it warns people that turtles are hatching at Compo.

“This is incredibly rare, valuable and important,” Lou says. “People need to be aware, and stay away.”

A tiny diamondback terrapin.

Lou calls last night’s hatching “a fortuitous start to our married life together.”

It is a great story. I’m honored to pass it along.

But in the interest of journalism, I emailed Lou back. I wanted to include his new wife’s name too.

I haven’t heard back yet.

Hopefully, he’s on his honeymoon.

Or else he’s saving even more wildlife somewhere out there too.

UPDATE: The bride’s name is Marjorie Donalds!

Congratulations, to Lou and Marjorie!