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LITTLE SILVER: A BARNYARD CELEBRATION

ls-barns-101616-10About 100 Little Silver residents, joined by Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagnols-barns-101616-4, celebrated the completion of restoration work on the three barns at the Parker Homestead Sunday.

The structures, the oldest of which is believed to have been built in the 1790s, and the Parker farm site on which they sit are “as important as Jamestown” in the history of America, Mayor Bob Neff told the crowd.

The restoration, funded with a $250,000 Monmouth County Open Spaces grant, was completed after a dispute with a contractor was resolved and a second contractor, Drill Construction, came on board in January, said Keith Wells, a trustee for the nonprofit Parker Homestead 1665 Inc., the nonprofit that oversaw the project. Two carpenters, Joe Rubel and Mike Cerniglia, were credited for work.

Click the “read more” for additional photos. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

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AUTUMN 2015: RED BANK, IN GLORIOUS COLOR

rb flowers 112115rb sunset 112215The trees may be nearly bare of leaves, but there’s no shortage of bold color to be found in nature this time of year.

Some hardy roses added splashes of magenta to the sidewalk along West Front Street in Red Bank Saturday, and Sunday’s sunset, seen from Pinckney Road at right, offered a glorious array of pink, gold, blue and more. 

Speaking of autumn, Thanksgiving week began with temperatures just above freezing Monday morning, with a forecast of sunny skies and a high temperature of only about 43 degrees. (Photo by Trish Russoniello. Click to enlarge)

RED BANK: LAVENDER-SCENTED MEMORIES

barb randall 083115Barb Randall with a lavender plant in her Red Bank yard. Below, a photo of her late sister, Donna Randall. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

donna randall 083115When her older sister died from a rare form of leukemia three years ago, Barb Randall found some solace in an aroma, and the memories it inspired.

Donna Randall, who worked in the fragrance industry, had created a simple lavender spray for her own use that she applied to linens.

“Whenever she had overnight guests at her Jersey City brownstone, she would spray it on the pillows,” Barb recalled in an interview at her Red Bank home this week. “And when I stayed there, the last thing she would always say to me was, ‘sweet dreams.'”

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LITTLE SILVER: BARN RESTORATION STALLS

parker barns 070915 2No work has been done on the barns at Little Silver’s Parker Homestead in months. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

By JOHN T. WARD

parker barns 070915 1One year after it began, work to restore three decrepit old barns at the Parker Homestead site in Little Silver has been stalled for months, and may be heading to court.

Neither town officials nor the contractor, Nickles Contracting, would discuss the reason for the inactivity, or even say when the stoppage began, leaving the structures a patchwork of braces and plywood coverings.

“It’s kind of in the hands of our attorneys,” Mayor Bob Neff told redbankgreen, citing the possibility of the matter winding up in litigation for his reticence on the matter.

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FARMERS MARKETS: WHERE TO GET FRESH

061815sbmkt1At the Sea Bright farmers market, Meg Paska sells locally grown produce and flowers from Seven Arrows Farm, while the Holly Hill Farm table, below, offers Rumson-grown seedlings and produce.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

061815sbmkt2Options for finding locally grown produce on the Greater Red Bank Green doubled with the addition last year of a farmers’ market in the Sea Bright municipal parking lot on Thursdays.

For local shoppers, that means more variety. While both Sea Bright and the Red Bank Farmers’ Market at the Galleria on summer and autumn Sundays are dependable for farm-grown veggies, there are some characteristics that differentiate the two.

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LITTLE SILVER: COOKIE TIN YIELDS GEMS

PH Cobb set A collection of baseball cards from 1909, including two feauring Ty Cobb, found among the possessions of a former Parker family member will be on display Sunday. (Photo above by Liz Hanson. Click to enlarge)

[CORRECTION: The original version of this article incorrectly reported that there may be thousands of baseball cards in the collection. That estimate refers to postcards, not baseball cards.]

By JOHN T. WARD

LS parker 121613 1Sunday may be Flag Day, but at the historic Parker Homestead in Little Silver, it will also be a day for baseball.

Old-time baseball, that is, in the form of a rare set of baseball cards discovered recently in a cookie tin among piles of possessions from the historic house on Rumson Road.

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LITTLE SILVER TO OPEN COMMUNITY GARDEN

ls garden 051315 1Little Silver gets down and dirty Saturday with the opening of its community garden, located on Harrison Avenue behind the Parker Homestead on the approach to Sickle’s Market. With a ribbon cutting ceremony scheduled for 10 a.m., the borough joins neighboring towns of Fair Haven, Red Bank and Shrewsbury as a place with a centralized growing spot for its residents.

Plot holders are charged $50 for the season, and four ADA-compliant plots were still available earlier this week. For more information, email littlesilvercommunitygardens [at] gmail.com. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

RUMSON: BLITHEWALD GARDEN IN PHOTOS

rumson blithewald 1 rumson blithewald 3The April 20 fire at the Rumson mansion known as Blithewald, which was undergoing extensive redecoration for use as a designer showcase in the monthlong VNA Stately Homes by the Sea fundraiser, occurred the same morning that landscapers had put the finishing touches on a yard design called the Secret Garden.

Red Bank-based Siciliano Landscape, which oversaw the project with a landscaper from Marlboro, has posted a gallery of before-and-after photos of the garden, along with a link for those wishing to donate to the VNA. The now-canceled home tour was to be the nonprofit organization’s largest fundraising event of the year. (Photos courtesy of Siciliano Landscape. Click to enlarge)

FAIR HAVEN: SHELTER FROM THE STORM PLOW

FH SNOW 020315 2FH SNOW 020315 1Bonnie Graziano of Fair Haven doesn’t know why her husband, Chuck, planted a line of baby Leyland Cypress trees along the edge of their Harding Road property in winter – and Chuck was not available for immediate comment. But the plywood bulwark he built to protect them from heavy snow tossed their way by snowplows held up during last week’s nonblizzard and appeared still to be doing its job Tuesday morning. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge.)

FAIR HAVEN: FOR GARDENERS, 2014 IS A WRAP

101714 raevisThe  front walkway at the Raevis house in Fair Haven is decorated with pumpkins grown in the community garden. Below, a bountiful harvest of pumpkins grown on a double plot in the garden. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

091314 fhgardenEven with this second coming of lettuce and spinach, rules must be obeyed, and all forms of inner fencing, weed-control sheeting, rakes, spades, hoses and whirligigs are to be removed from the Fair Haven Community Garden by this weekend, closing out another season.

Opinions on how the season went had a lot to do with what was planted and where. The sunnier plots nearest Ridge Road seemed to have a better tomato crop, while the cruciferous vegetables did better in the shadier back areas.
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RED BANK: PUMPKIN PANDEMONIUM

100514 rbfarmmktAngus McDougald with his daughter, Jade, at Red Bank Farmers’ Market. Below, Lisa Bagwell among the edible pumpkins from Organic Produce. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

100514 rbfarmmkt3 For those who think the season for fresh produce is over, there are still many vendors showing up at the Red Bank Farmers’ Market to prove them wrong.  It is the perfect time of year to buy fresh apple cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts.

But squash pumpkins and other  cruciferous vegetables take center stage this time of year.

“I like to simply roast them and eat them,” Lisa Bagwell, of the Certified Organic stand, said of the different varieties pumpkins and squash. Noting the smaller blue hubbard squash, she added: “These are delicious. The gourds, on the other hand, are not delicious.”

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RED BANK: ECOTOUR FEATURES GREEN IDEAS

092714 ecowalk5Michael Paul Raspanti in his garden. Below, Judy Marlow’s clothes dryer was good for laughs. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

092714 ecowalk7Energy efficiency, organic gardening and rain barrels were the talk of the town on Red Bank’s Green Home Tour Saturday, but composting was the star.

Every home on the four-mile, walkable tour practiced some form of composting, though each with a different method.  Michael Paul Raspanti has a unique underground compost area in his yard on Brown Place, for example, while Lou Di Mento of Alston Court uses an Earth Machine system for his.

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RED BANK: HOME, HOME ON THE GREEN

rb marlow 092414Judy Marlow’s 46-foot-long sidewalk garden on Madison Avenue is among the stops on Saturday’s Red Bank Green Home Tour. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

rb eco tour 2014Just to clarify things, it’s not the redbankgreen Home Tour — it’s the Red Bank Green Home Tour, as in a tour of environmentally forward-thinking dwellings located within the borough of Red Bank.

So while your favorite hyperlocal news source hasn’t gotten into the business of conducting open-house showcases, we can definitely get behind the notion of local homeowners who are rethinking the concept of life in the suburbs. And this Saturday, a select group of people in our community will be opening up their houses, yards and gardens to neighbors who’d like to see how ideas like composting, rain collection and solar power are working in a real-life setting.

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SHREWSBURY: GARDENERS EAT THEIR OWN

091414 shrwsbry gdn feast3Community gardeners celebrating their harvest at the garden, located adjacent to Borough Hall. Below, Pam MacNeill and Maureen Collins in the gazebo. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

091414 shrwsbry gdn feastSipping wine amid tables festooned with bouquets of flowers, the Shrewsbury community gardener’s celebrated the end of the growing season with a potluck dinner recently.

In the gazebo, a table laden with casseroles and salads made from this year’s harvest looked like a picture from a home and garden magazine.

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SEA BRIGHT: WEEKLY FARM MARKET DEBUTS

sb parking 2 052714The market will set up in the municipal beach lot every Thursday through October, with a finale one week before Thanksgiving, an organizer says. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

morsels mediumCan you beat this: shopping for fresh Jersey corn, tomatoes, blackberries and more, just yards from Atlantic Ocean, in summer?

With an OK from the Sea Bright borough council this week, a group called Community Green Market Organizers begins a weekly farmers’ market in the borough parking lot Thursday from 2 to 7 p.m.

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SHREWSBURY: GROWING COMMUNITY ROOTS

073114 Shrewsbury garden cukesEileen Olson and Carla Fiscella discuss the day’s bounty in the Shrewsbury Community Garden. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

073114 Shrewsbury garden adaIn its third year, the Shrewsbury Community Garden is a thriving example of team spirit. Inclusive to the point of having two raised beds that are ADA approved with ample room for a wheelchair, this garden is a modern model of neighborly spirit.

In addition to the 83 gardeners who presently share this Eden, there is a PAR – or plant-a-row – garden where extra plants are tended, with the produce donated to Lunch Break in Red Bank.

“It’s fun, because everyone does different things,” said Eileen Olson.

“I go to the pool and give away my produce to my neighbors,” Carla Fiscella added.

They were deep in discussion about the enormous size and bounty of Fiscella’s cucumbers this season.

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FAIR HAVEN: GARDENERS SHARE HARVEST

071214 FH garden SkoeMaster gardener Cindy Skoe in the Fair Haven Community Garden. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

070614 FH garden signAmong the plots in Fair Haven’s community garden is an area with two small signs. One reads “UMW,” and  the other declares that Master Gardeners worked here.

The UMW stands for United Methodist Women, from United Methodist Church on Broad Street in Red Bank. The master gardener is UMW member Cindy Skoe, who along with five other gardeners from the group, is growing vegetables with the intent of sharing half the bounty with Lunch Break in Red Bank.

“They have a program on Tuesdays to drop off produce.” Skoe said, adding, “They are very excited to get whatever one can bring.”

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FAIR HAVEN GARDEN: BLACK IS THE NEW GREEN

061514 community gdn WestonCarol Weston in the community garden, where black coverings in different materials can be found among the plants this year. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

053114 fh garden blackThe Fair Haven Community Garden is starting to look a bit like an airport runway.

The slick black blankets that cover swaths of the garden are actually a new-ish technology that several gardeners have chosen to make the backbreaking work of weed control a bit easier.

Some use polyethylene plastic mulch sheets. Others opt for biodegradable coconut fiber sheeting. Still others are experimenting with their own coverings.

Borough resident Carol Weston is trying a woven plastic fiber covering, hoping it will allow fewer weeds and keep the roots moist.

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FAIR HAVEN: GROWING, OLD SCHOOL

053114fhgardensmithLou Smith in the Fair Haven Community Garden. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

053114fhgardenwhirleygigIn the colorful, whirligig-friendly, anything-goes Fair Haven Community garden, the seeds have been sown and the plants are coming up., yielding a mesmerizing array of vegetables, and flowers.

The 33-year-old garden also features some familiar faces, not all of them human. A new deer fence is helping keep the garden from once again turning into a smorgasbord for the larger animals, but to the dismay of some, it does not keep out the woodchucks and the rabbits.

Lou Smith, who has been gardening here for the last five years, pointed to the chicken wire fencing surrounding his plot.

“What we need to do here is put this fencing all the way around the bottom of the garden to keep those woodchucks out,” he said, suggesting that everyone chip in and circle the entire deer fence. So far, though, his suggestion hasn’t gotten much traction among his fellow gardeners.

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KEEPING ‘COMMUNITY’ IN SHARED GARDENS

community gardenAfter 33 years, the Fair Haven Community Garden goes by tacit rules of etiquette. Others, though, have written rules.. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

Hey, it’s a jungle in there. Or life in the community garden can be, judging by the some of the gripes one hears, and the rules set down to address them, about shared, small-plot farming.

For example, that “gnome, whirl-a-gig or sculpture” you think will look cute on your plot? Please leave it home, along with bug lures and unattended watering mechanisms, according to the Shrewsbury Community Garden‘s rules on garden conduct and etiquette.

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RED BANK CUTTING FARM VENDOR FEE

RB farm mkt 1 051213Red Bank officials introduced an ordinance amendment this week that will allow food vendors at the Farmers’ Market to obtain yearlong health department licenses for $350, instead of paying $50 per week. A vote on the measure, which Mayor Pasquale Menna said would also reduce paperwork at borough hall, was scheduled for April 23. Here’s the amendment: RB 2014-10

The Farmers’ Market, based in the Galleria parking lot, returns on Mother’s Day, May 11, and runs into mid-November.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

LITTLE SILVER: BARNS TO BE AGE-TESTED

ls parker 1 040814Archaeology students from Monmouth University plan to conduct tests on the barns at Little Silver’s Parker Homestead Friday to determine the ages of the structures. A similar examination was done on the site’s farmhouse, and founding indications that dated it back to 1720, making it one of the oldest houses in America.

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RED BANK: GROWING COMMUNITY & VEGGIES

Red Bank’s Community Gardeners were in full bloom on Marion Street Sunday morning to kick off the garden’s second year. (Photos by Jim Willis. Click to enlarge)