Category Archives: InCity Feature

Union Hill revitalizaton plans – a recap!

By Sue Moynagh

The Union Hill area of Worcester has been declining for decades. There have been efforts to patch up pockets of deterioration from rehabbing old three deckers to repaving streets and sidewalks. Many of us are aware that the health of the neighborhood affects the health of its residents and vice versa. It becomes a vicious cycle that has to be broken. The City of Worcester has become aware of the problem and is now taking action. The Union Hill neighborhood of Worcester has been made the focal point for investment and revitalization. There are several initiatives that have been developed to improve the health and growth of this historic community, taking a holistic approach to “curing” the patient…my home!

I want to focus on three of these initiatives. The first is the “Union Hill Health Impact Assessment” developed over the past year through a number of community- engagement meetings. All aspects of community health are included, along with recommendations for action. The second one, “The Greater Worcester Region Community Health Improvement Plan” will focus on actual health issues of the residents of this neighborhood. The third is a streetscape improvement plan developed over a number of years but is being put in place thanks to City Manager Ed Augustus.

At first, I was leery about these projects. Too often surveys and studies are conducted, data and statistics compiled into a report that is pored over by officials and social agency workers. These reports are then left to gather dust on some shelf. Would this be the same? Apparently, these initiatives will use the data and statistics to address the health problems of Union Hill and then use the outcomes to improve the health of all Worcester communities. I want to describe just what these reports are and how they will benefit my community.

Union Hill Health Impact Assessment

The Union Hill Health Impact Assessment was released in November, 2013, after a series of community scoping sessions. These sessions, hosted by Worcester Academy, were initiated by the Worcester Division of Public Health and conducted by Project Manager Zack Dyer, MPH. The lead writer of the report was Karin Valentin Goins, MPH. All aspects of a healthy community were discussed. We were asked how we feel about six “Determinants”: Community Violence, Social Cohesion, Housing Safety, Traffic Safety, Park Access, and Physical Activity. Also incorporated into this report was a resident survey conducted over the summer by Oak Hill Community Development Corporation.  Some of the information was actually surprising, but much of it just reinforced what residents have known for quite some time.

One eye-opening statistic was the fact that 28% of the residents of Union Hill are disabled as opposed to 24% of Worcester population as a whole. Approximately 25% of households have no vehicle in comparison with Worcester overall (16.2%). Another shock was the high rate of pediatric asthma in local schools- Union Hill School 27.7% compared to Worcester average of 11.7%. As I stated, some facts do not surprise me. Our crime rate is higher that that of the rest of Worcester, we have the highest rate of traffic accidents involving pedestrians, and not quite half of the residents are employed. The economic statistics are not surprising. In Union Hill, 30% of households are below the poverty level, and a shocking 60% are below the 200% poverty level! We have little green space and limited tree canopy, and the few parks we have are overburdened.

Efforts are already being made to improve the safety of Union Hill. There is now a police district in the community, guaranteeing a quick response when trouble occurs, plus a police presence that makes people feel safer. ShotSpotter is now in place and it is working. The Department of Inspectional Services, along with Fire Department personnel are conducting sweeps of the properties within Union Hill. Problems are identified and being addressed, such as overgrowth of brush, litter, faulty fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, and other health or fire hazards. Oak Hill CDC and the City of Worcester are working to reduce foreclosure rates and provide assistance for improvement of homes. What is the connection to health? High crime, litter, poor sidewalks, and poor living conditions are stressful. Stress creates or exacerbates health problems, both physical and mental. When you are afraid to leave your home, you do not exercise. Bad sidewalks lead to accidents. Poor housing stock is depressing and demoralizing. This study will provide data to drive future work by all city departments in making the Union Hill Initiative a success. Methods used here will be refined and used throughout Worcester.

Greater Worcester Community Health Improvement Plan

This plan actually envisions creating a healthy Worcester region because it includes Shrewsbury, West Boylston, Holden, Leicester and Millbury. It is a partnership between the UMass Memorial Medical Center, Common Pathways, the Central Massachusetts Regional Public Health Alliance and Worcester Division of Public Health. What does this have to do with Union Hill? The University of Massachusetts Medical School’s Prevention Research Center, along with community partners have chosen Union Hill as a pilot to develop methods to encourage disadvantaged families to make better lifestyle choices, especially in regards to nutrition and exercise. Community input meetings have been held since 2012, and five “domains” of health were identified. The first domain, “Healthy Eating and Active Living” will identify methods to “create an environment and community that support people’s ability to make healthy eating and active living choices that promote health and well- being.” A federal grant of $4.4 million will enable researchers to come into Union Hill, and work for the school year with families from Union Hill and Grafton Street schools.

There are actually two programs that will be put in place. The first is a Mass in Motion program that will encourage children to walk more, and seek to allow school playgrounds to be opened up after school is out for neighborhood kids to play and get more exercise. There is also an initiative to make fresh fruits and vegetables available in corner stores. More community gardens will be open for allowing residents to grow their own healthy produce.

The second program will collaborate with community partners and agencies such as Oak Hill CDC and Friendly House to connect families with resources and services. Beginning with the coming school year, family members will be measured for weight, BMI and other indicators of health. They will be educated about nutrition, selecting and preparing good foods, and exercise. Incentives will be given for participation in the project. Union Hill School will use intervention methods recommended by the researchers, while Grafton Street School will develop their own methods to work with families. Results will be compared at the end of the year.

The Providence/ Harrison Streetscape Improvement Project

I feel that this project will play a role in Union Hill health by making the gateways into the community inviting and safer. The plan was discussed at a meeting held at Oak Hill CDC on Tuesday, June 14. Although there were concerns expressed by residents about the changes in parking ordinances, the plans for streetscape were very positive. Better sidewalks will encourage people to get out, play, walk and socialize. Street tree plantings would be especially advantageous for residents. Not only do they provide shade for walkers, they also provide environmental benefits such as pollutant removal, noise reduction and flood control. Crosswalks will be improved and curb extensions will make it safer for pedestrians and drivers. Of course, ADA compliant curb cuts will be constructed. The goal will be to make Union Hill inviting to newcomers, especially first time homebuyers. The work will begin in July and gradually will extend throughout Union Hill.

I see these initiatives as positive first steps in improving quality of life and health for my neighborhood. The problems that contribute to poor health in the community and its residents have been recognized, and now will be addressed by a number of approaches. I would like to see other efforts made, such as economic investment and job creation. Better income allows better choices for improving lifestyles. I hope the city officials and public health researchers will continue to engage residents in improving the health of Union Hill and its families. If so, Union Hill will be restored to its rightful place as a vibrant, healthy and welcoming community.

REC Farmer’s Market – the place to be! Every Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., Fuller Family Park – in back of YMCA, Main South branch

By Ron O’Clair (photos by Ron O’Clair)

(Don’t forget to check out REC’s great website, www.recworcester.org, for the latest REC news! – R. T.)

Acopia Harvest International Booth, Hydroponics - Monica from Central Falls, R.I, and Kavohn, (not pictured)

Brian, Sam & Madison, Left to right

On Saturday the 21st of June 2014, I attended the first of the weekly Farmer’s Markets sponsored by the Regional Environmental Council, and supported by a number of corporate sponsors. I got there right at 9:00 a.m. and they were still in the process of setting up the booths for the day ahead.

There were several area farms setting up under canvas to sell their locally grown produce, and one farmer came all the way from Rehoboth, Massachusetts to participate in the event. That was Mike and his daughter Mackenzie from Oakdale Farms in Rehoboth, Massachusetts.  They offered a variety of fruit and vegetables for sale under their tent, and Mike tells me that he grows them with organic farming methods.

There was another tent set up featuring produce grown in Worcester and Sutton from the New Lands Farm.  They had a variety of locally grown produce for sale, and all of it was fresh from the farm for sale to the public through the R.E.C. Farmer’s Market system.

National Grid had a booth set up to explain about the new meters that are coming into use, and the various ways that consumers of electricity can save money and energy at the same time. This was staffed by Carrie Lemelin from western Mass., and two intern college students, Rida Fayyaz from Pakistan, and Sopheakfva Chhim from Cambodia, and an intern from WPI. I forgot what school that Rida attends.

There was a Kids Fun Zone tent set up manned by a Clark University Intern, Alexis Charney from Stratford, Connecticut that was a place for the area kids to have fun with activities while the parents browsed the booths looking for good buys of fresh vegetables and fruits.

Acopia Harvest International had a booth of hydroponics set up for businesses and children’s education on hydroponic methods of growing plants.

There was a booth set up sponsored by the Ecotarium that had a U. Mass. Amherst full professor in attendance, Professor Robert Ryan and two college students, Benedita Silva Pinto from U.Mass. Amherst was one, and William Collier from Clark University was the other. They were doing a study on urban issues, and planned to interview Farmer’s Market attendee’s to ask questions for their research project.

There was a booth from Habitat for Humanity manned by Matthew Moore, who had served a year in the AmeriCorps VISTA program.

There was a booth set up that sold Honey products as well as farm produce from a farm in Rutland, Mass., the Schultz Farm running Flo’s Country Farm stand, where I purchased a large container of fresh strawberries for only $5.00. They were scrumptious.

There were many other booths, and many interns from the various colleges and universities that dot the Worcester Landscape, far too many to list in this article. I urge my reader’s to come to the Fuller Family Park next Saturday and check it out; the program will run throughout the summer.

Urban renewal! Main South’s Junction Shops Mill Project!

By Ron O’Clair  (photo by Ron O’Clair)

DSCF3652

A couple of days before Christmas of 2011, Brady Sullivan Properties, a real estate development company out of Manchester, New Hampshire plunked down $1.1 Million dollars to purchase the long vacant and derelict factory complex that dominates the skyline on Beacon Street here in the City of Worcester.

The buildings had gone to seed, the roofs were leaking, the windows were broken, the pipes had frozen and burst, in short, the place was one step away from the wrecking ball when it was sold to a developer that wanted to reclaim this Worcester landmark and turn it into market rate apartments.
Other people over the years that it lay dormant had envisioned turning the place around, and giving it a renewed lease on usability to bring it into the future along with our fair city, which is the 2nd largest in the entire New England area.

Worcester was long noted as a manufacturing hub, and it was because of that capacity to produce goods that Worcester attracted the many different types of immigrants who came to our city looking for a better way of life than that they had known wherever it was they came from. People from all over the world have chosen to make Worcester, Massachusetts their home, primarily for the opportunities for advancement that this city offered for them.

That was especially true when I was growing up and Worcester still had many factories producing goods that were shipped out of Worcester to the various places around the globe where they were needed. You could find a job here in the city without even trying hard.

Brown Shoe on Hammond Street was a major source of Worcester pride in quality manufacturing, there was Chess King right on the same street, Hammond Street that made all sorts of apparel for sale in shops here in the city and elsewhere, there was Thom McCann out on Millbrook Street, another shoe manufacturer. There was Worcester Knitting Company on Brussels Street near where Rotman’s Furniture is today, they made knit goods like sweaters and polo shirts for sale all over the world. I worked there in the early 1980’s myself as an assistant building maintenance man, and night watchman.
The list of factories that used to dot the Worcester landscape is long and was impressive in the total output of goods that were manufactured here in Worcester for sale here at home and elsewhere. A legacy of this history of manufacturing is that there are lots of vacant factory buildings that are getting more run down as time goes on, and many have succumbed to the wrecking ball of time already, such as Standard Tool on Shrewsbury Street to name just one example of a major manufacturer that closed its doors and took its place in the history of Worcester books.

Thanks to Mr. Shane Brady, CEO of Brady & Sullivan Properties and his frequent visits to his daughter when she was enrolled in out prestigious Clark University in Main South, the Junction Mill Shops Project got underway, and is making good progress towards reuse of long abandoned and vacant manufacturing space. Turning an eyesore into something that Worcester will be proud to have fully functional and in use once again.

There are going to be over 100 apartments in the complex. That is 100 plus families that will come to Worcester to settle here in our great melting pot of a city, looking for a better life for them and their children. Worcester has one of the finest public education programs in the country as witnessed by the recent visit of our President Barack Obama to honor students from Worcester Technical High School. I have long said that Worcester has one of the finest public school systems to be found anywhere in the country, and that visit by the President bears out my assertion.
Now if we could only attract the manufacturers back to hire some of those people…..

The Junction Mill Shops Project is underway, there is a completion date sometime in the near future, I was unable to have the management contact me to get the specifics of the anticipated completion date, or the exact number of rental units there will be in the finished product, but anything that helps to transform that area from a vacant expanse of derelict buildings into modern homes for families has to be a positive for the City of Worcester.

The recent crackdown I initiated in the 700 Block of Main Street with increased enforcement against the drug dealers that frequent this neighborhood is also a step in the right direction and I thank the Worcester Police for taking my complaints seriously and acting to curb illegal activity that was a constant disturbance for my tenants here on Main Street during the nocturnal hours of each and every night.

Congratulations are in order for Mr. Shane Brady, the CEO of Brady & Sullivan Properties for saving those old mill buildings and making them thrive once again.

Cool stuff happening, thx to the Worcester Education Collaborative! For ex: Reading, eating and fashion!

 

In August WEC will be at two of the One City, One Library branch sites with new literacy programs, thanks to the creativity of our intern from Clark University, Sadie Hazelkorn.

She will help  children create their own cookbook of family recipes at the Goddard  School of Science and Technology on Tuesday Aug 5 from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. and at Roosevelt school on Thursday, Aug. 7 from  3 to 4 p.m.

Sadie also is working with teens at the Goddard library site to produce a back to school fashion show featuring thrift store attire.

Besides writing descriptions of the outfits they will model, the teens are creating a guide of fashion tips on a budget.

Don’t forget! This Sunday! GEORGE STREET BIKE CHALLENGE FOR MAJOR TAYLOR in downtown Worcester!

 

Seven Hills Wheelmen present …

GEORGE STREET BIKE CHALLENGE FOR MAJOR TAYLOR!
This SUNDAY, JULY 27

See how fast you can pedal up a steep Worcester hill where 1899 world
champion cyclist Major Taylor trained.

The 13th annual George Street Bike Challenge for Major Taylor Open on Sunday, July 27, 2014, is
presented by the Seven Hills Wheelmen and Barney’s Bicycle.

It is open to riders age 12 and up.

Entry fee is $20.

Online registration closes at
1 p.m. July 26; on-site registration opens at 8:30 a.m. July 27 and
racing starts at 10:00 a.m.

Free admission for spectators.

Proceeds benefit Major Taylor Association.

For more information visit:
www.majortaylorassociation.org or call Barney’s Bicycle, 508-799-BIKE.
————————————————————————-

ALSO – check out their weekly bike rides!!!!
SEVEN HILLS WHEELMEN
EVERY MONDAY
WORCESTER-HOLDEN BICYCLE RIDE

Meet at 6:00 p.m. Mondays at Barney’s Bicycle, 582 Park Ave., Worcester,
Mass., for a 15-mile bicycle ride with the Seven Hills Wheelmen. Helmets
are required. For more information, call (508) 831-0301 or visit
www.sevenhillswheelmen.org.
————————————————————————-
SEVEN HILLS WHEELMEN
EVERY MONDAY & FRIDAY
SOUTHBRIDGE BICYCLE RIDE

Meet at 6:00 p.m. Mondays and Fridays at Southbridge Bicycles, 100
Central St., Southbridge, Mass., for a 30-mile bicycle ride with the
Seven Hills Wheelmen. Helmets are required. For more information, call
(508) 831-0301 or visit www.sevenhillswheelmen.org.
————————————————————————-
SEVEN HILLS WHEELMEN
SELECTED DATES
EASY-PACED BICYCLE RIDE

“EASY C RIDER” Seven Hills Wheelmen features the “Easy C Rider,”
moderately paced bicycle rides of 15 to 35 miles on relatively gentle
terrain in the Worcester, Mass., area, on selected Saturdays or Sundays.
Starting times and locations are posted each week at www.easycrider.com.
Helmets are required. For more information, call (508) 831-0301 or visit
www.sevenhillswheelmen.org.
————————————————————————–
SEVEN HILLS WHEELMEN
EVERY WEDNESDAY
WEST BOYLSTON BICYCLE RIDE

Meet at 6:00 p.m. Wednesdays at the Old Stone Church, Route 12 and
Beaman Street, West Boylston, for a 15- to 25-mile bicycle ride with the
Seven Hills Wheelmen. The group will determine the route and pace.
Helmets are required. Schedule changes (for Wednesday night West
Boylston rides only) will be posted at www.sevenhillswheelmen.org/weds.htm
For more information, call (508) 831-0301 or visit
www.sevenhillswheelmen.org.
————————————————————————-
SEVEN HILLS WHEELMEN
BICYCLE RIDE
August 10 and 17, 2014

Meet at 9:00 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 10, and Sunday, Aug. 17, at Dudley
District Court, Route 197 and Lyons Road, Dudley, Mass., for a 24-mile
bicycle ride with the Seven Hills Wheelmen. Helmets are required. For
more information, call (508) 831-0301 or visit www.sevenhillswheelmen.or

 

Friendly House and Elder Services farmers’ market coupon kickoff!

Farmers’ Market Coupon Distribution Kickoff

 

Elder Services of Worcester Area’s Nutrition Program and Friendly House wish to announce the MA Dept. of Agricultural Resources Farmers’ Market Coupon Kick Off Events.


Monday July 28, 2014 

11:00 am 

Worcester Youth Center
(Beaver Brook) 

306 Chandler St, Worcester

&

Thursday July 31, 2014 

10:00am 

Worcester Senior Center 

128 Providence Street, Worcester

  • As available, first come, first serve.
  • Distribution will begin July 28th and coupons must be redeemed by October 31, 2014.

 

Eligibility requirements:

  • Recipients must be at least 60 years old
  • Must meet income requirement; be at or below  185% of Federal Poverty Line. ($21,257/single or $28,694/couple) 
  • Picture ID, proof of address, and recipient signature required.  

 

 

 

Additional Information: 

Elder Services of Worcester Area- 508-852-3205 www.eswa.org Worcester, surrounding towns, plus Barre, Hardwick, New Braintree, Oakham, & Rutland. 

  

Friendly House: (508) 755-4362 

www.friendlyhousema.org   

Worcester Area  

 

Southern Central Mass:

Tri-Valley, Inc.-  508-949-6640 www.trivalleyinc.org

Southern Central MA -Bellingham, Blackstone, Brookfield, Charlton, Douglas, Dudley, E. Brookfield, Franklin, Hopedale, Medway, Mendon, Milford, Millville, Northbridge, N. Brookfield, Oxford, Southbridge, Spencer, Sturbridge, Sutton, Upton, Uxbridge, Warren, Webster & W. Brookfield. 


Northern Central Mass: 

Montachusett Opportunity Council -978-345-7066  www.mocinc.org Northern Central MA -Ashburnham, Ashby, Ayer, Berlin, Bolton, Clinton, Fitchburg, Gardner, Groton, Hubbardston, Lancaster, Leominster, Lunenburg, Pepperell, Princeton, Shirley, Sterling, Templeton, Townsend, Westminster, and Winchendon.

   

 

 

Don’t forget! FREE! This Sunday, July 27: Stanley Kunitz’s Annual Birthday Celebration in Vernon Hill!

The 2014 Celebration will be held THIS Sunday, July 27.

FREE!

Join us at 2 p.m. for the 109th anniversary of Stanley Kunitz’s birth.

4 Woodford St., (in Vernon Hill, off Providence Street) the house Kunitz grew up in …

You can bring poems to share during the Open Mic and then enjoy birthday cake. A docent-led house tour will begin at 3:15!

The docent-led tour includes historical information about artifacts and memorabilia collected during and after Carol and her late husband Greg’s twenty-year friendship with the poet.

History: Each year, Carol Stockmal opens the Stanley Kunitz Boyhood Home to the public on Stanley Kunitz’s Birthday – July 29.

Everyone is welcome to attend, commemorate, and celebrate his birthday with a tour of the house, an open mic, and a chance to sit in the garden (weather permitting.

******************

This poem mentions Worcester Academy, living off Providence Street … cool! – R. T.

The Testing-Tree

By Stanley Kunitz

1

On my way home from school
   up tribal Providence Hill
      past the Academy ballpark
where I could never hope to play
   I scuffed in the drainage ditch
      among the sodden seethe of leaves
hunting for perfect stones
   rolled out of glacial time
      into my pitcher’s hand;
then sprinted lickety-
   split on my magic Keds
      from a crouching start,
scarcely touching the ground
   with my flying skin
      as I poured it on
for the prize of the mastery
   over that stretch of road,
      with no one no where to deny
when I flung myself down
   that on the given course
      I was the world’s fastest human.


2

Around the bend
   that tried to loop me home
      dawdling came natural
across a nettled field
   riddled with rabbit-life
      where the bees sank sugar-wells
in the trunks of the maples
   and a stringy old lilac
      more than two stories tall
blazing with mildew
   remembered a door in the 
      long teeth of the woods.
All of it happened slow:
   brushing the stickseed off,
      wading through jewelweed
strangled by angel’s hair,
   spotting the print of the deer
      and the red fox’s scats.
Once I owned the key
   to an umbrageous trail
      thickened with mosses
where flickering presences
   gave me right of passage
      as I followed in the steps
of straight-backed Massassoit
   soundlessly heel-and-toe
      practicing my Indian walk.


3

Past the abandoned quarry
   where the pale sun bobbed
      in the sump of the granite,
past copperhead ledge,
   where the ferns gave foothold,
      I walked, deliberate,
on to the clearing,
   with the stones in my pocket
      changing to oracles
and my coiled ear tuned
   to the slightest leaf-stir.
      I had kept my appointment.
There I stood in the shadow,
   at fifty measured paces,
      of the inexhaustible oak,
tyrant and target,
   Jehovah of acorns,
      watchtower of the thunders,
that locked King Philip’s War
   in its annulated core
      under the cut of my name.
Father wherever you are
    I have only three throws
       bless my good right arm.
In the haze of afternoon,
   while the air flowed saffron,
      I played my game for keeps--
for love, for poetry,
   and for eternal life--
      after the trials of summer.

4

In the recurring dream
   my mother stands
      in her bridal gown
under the burning lilac,
   with Bernard Shaw and Bertie
      Russell kissing her hands;
the house behind her is in ruins;
   she is wearing an owl’s face
      and makes barking noises.
Her minatory finger points.
   I pass through the cardboard doorway
      askew in the field
and peer down a well
   where an albino walrus huffs.
      He has the gentlest eyes.
If the dirt keeps sifting in,
   staining the water yellow,
      why should I be blamed?
Never try to explain.
   That single Model A
      sputtering up the grade
unfurled a highway behind
   where the tanks maneuver,
      revolving their turrets.
In a murderous time
   the heart breaks and breaks
      and lives by breaking.
It is necessary to go
   through dark and deeper dark
      and not to turn.
I am looking for the trail.
   Where is my testing-tree?
      Give me back my stones!

 

Worcester: A great place to grow all sorts of things!

By Edith Morgan

Remember the victory gardens during World War II? If you are my age, you know what I am talking about. But today, once again, we city slickers are getting our hands dirty and trying to raise things we can eat and things we can enjoy looking at and smelling.

So what does a frustrated gardener like me do, on a 70’ by 70’ foot plot, most of which is occupied by the house, which faces north and shades the lawn? The city maple tree in front also throws its shade over much of the front, and my neighbors’ houses are close enough and high enough so that only a sliver of sun reaches the yard during the day… Of course, the nights offer protection, since there are no high winds or floods to worry about.

I have a sliver of land to the west of my house, which is home to a rock garden, where grape hyacinths, lilies of the valley, and dusty miller grow in wild profusion – this year, all I had to do is pull out various invaders, and severely prune back the climbing roses and, rose of Sharon, and mock orange bushes that all vie for life space where once grew a very tall pine tree, which I had to have removed (at great cost) as it grew too tall and too close to the house. Over the years I found that Mother Nature would fill in the space left by the stump, overcome the acidity of the soil around the pine needles, and gradually fill in every available inch of land. So at every season we all enjoy the fragrance of various blooms, and can sit on the porch and breathe in the ever-changing air.

But of course we HAD to have something we could eat also: on the narrow strip of land beside the house, to the east of the house, where the sun occasionally reaches in the middle of the day, we have a raised bed, maybe 8’ wide and 20 ‘ long, where my various vegetable and herb experiments grow. This year I have two kinds of tomatoes, four of each, growing in their cages, and one each, in pre-fertilized pots, of herbs like dill, lavender, sage, oregano, mint, and lemon balm – the lemon balm having spread out over much of the bed, unhampered by me as I love to go out and lop off a piece and crush it and smell it. A couple of anemic rhubarb plants grow every year on their own in the west corner of the garden bed, and a brave curly parsley plant comes up on its own yearly. After Passover a couple of years ago I stuck a piece of horseradish into the ground at the north corner of the raised bed, and lo and behold it has grown large fronds and white blossoms this year. I just leave all these plants to “do their thing”, and harvest something now and then.

At the southwest corner of the house, in a small circle of soil, several everbearing strawberry plants have taken hold, and we have just eaten the first ripe berries of the season – an indescribable taste treat compared to what we are accustomed to from the store. In the middle of that circle an old tire serves as a planter for yarrow, chives, onions, and a sedum in the center. Tulips, bleeding hearts, and several kinds of daisies share space with the strawberries, as well as other as yet unnamed flowers.

Beside the house on the west, where the blue rain barrel is now full, peonies and Solomon’s seal and ground cover grow beside the tiny back porch. And a jack-in=the=pulpit has this year doubled, so now I have two. The single May apple that my friend gave me has multiplied and hides the whole bottom of the rain barrel.

I know I have friends and neighbors with space who raise peppers, lettuce, radishes, and all such great vegetables. The city has just planted fruit trees (apples, pear, peach, and plum) at Newton Hill, but I haven’t enough room in my yard. What DOES flourish in every shady corner is the great variety of hostas, with their beautiful leaves and flowering late summer spikes. Worcester is a great place to grow all sorts of things!

I ain’t drunk – I just been drinking! ( a great blues tune!) … OR: InCity Yum Yums by Chef Joey

Summer Drinks!

By Chef Joey!

Summer-time and many people take off for a week or a long weekend and upon going out splurge with the official “I’m on vacation drink!” followed by a toast and lots of stories and planning for the coveted time off.

But summer time is also a great time to relax at home, too, and summer beverages are always fun to think about and always a great way to turn a blah day into a festive one.!

Here are some summer drink recipies that can be non alcoholic, or alcoholic which makes them even more fun!

The Blushing Bride is my new favorite – juice up 2 red grapefruits, add 1/4 cup pomegranite juice, and depending on the acridity of the grapefruit add some simple syrup* -shake over ice and garnish with a lemon wedge – Goes great with Vodka or Gin too – Serves 2

Cool as a Cuke – this one is a little legnthy but tastes great! A crisp and refreshing cucumber Lemonade Chiller summer cocktail recipe that includes fresh rosemary, cucumber and lemon juice! Ingredients: 3 cucumbers -1 tbsp. freshly chopped rosemary, plus a few sprigs for garnishing , 1 cup water ,¾ gin (substitute sparkling lemon-lime soda for a virgin drink) , ½ cup lemon juice , 3 tablespoons Simple syrup* Cut cucumber into 12 thin slices for garnish. Peel and chop remaining cucumber. In a food processor, add cucumber and fresh rosemary, puree mixture. Pour the pureed ingredients into a fine-mesh strainer and set over a medium size bowl. Press on the solids to extract all of the juice. Add water, gin (or sparkling soda), lemon juice, and simple syrup to the cucumber juice. Stir until  dissolved. Pour over ice, garnish with rosemary spring & cucumber and enjoy! Serves 4.

You say Margarita - How about a MINT-Erita!! Get a ½ cup fresh chopped mint leaves, ½ teaspoon kosher salt , 4 cups crushed ice, 1 ½ cups tequila (substitute lemon lime soda for virgin drinks), 1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 8 limes) – you can use bottled but fresh does tast like summer and 1 cup Triple Sec (omit for virgin drinks).  In the bottom of a large pitcher, crush together ice, mint and salt with the handle of a wooden spoon or cocktail muddler. Add lime juice, tequila (or lemon lime soda) and Triple Sec. Stir vigorously. Pour over ice and garnish with fresh lemon and lime wedges. Serves 4-5.

Flamable Ice Tea!! You dont have to got to Long Island to get one of those famous teas, but it is a fun summer drink and it is easy to make take 2 cups ice cubes. add 1 oz vodka 1 ounce gin 1 oz white rum 1  oz  white tequila 1/2 oz Triple Sec 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice 1/2 cup of and cola product, or to taste 2 lemon wedges

And what about my blender drink???  All of these can be made in a blender, by adding ice, but for a true summer bevvy how about a frozen Mojito – with Rum, or my favorite is a Joe-Jito made with Vodka!!  for each drink In a blender combine ice , juice of a 1/2 squeezed lime, 1 tablespoon simple syrup* and 5 or 6 mint leaves 1 1/2 oz white rum, or in my case vodka and blend!

*Simple syrup can be made way ahead and refrigerated for quite some time – it is merely one cup sugar and one cup water bring to a boild until the sugar is disolved – let it cool and voilá – you can add it to your ice tea too!

Enjoy responsibly!!

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Joey and his kid sis!

InCity Yum Yums! by Chef Joey

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Recipe and photo by Chef Joey

Peach and Crumbled Blue Cheese Salad and Watermelon Basil Feta Salad

Ingredients:

Blue cheese, mesclun greens, crumbled blue cheese, garlic (1 clove) 2 tbsp Dijon mustard, ¼ cup balsamic vinegar, 3 tbsp honey (brown sugar can be used if so use 6 tbsp) ¾ cup salad oil.

Take 6 peaches and poach then in a mixture of 3 cups water and 31/2 cups sugar one vanilla pod and 2 tbsp lemon juice. Heat and when it is bubbling cut the peaches in half and place in the sugar mix – if the peaches do not separate don’t worry they will separate once chilled with the aid of a spoon.

Turn peaches gently and poach for about 5 minutes each side, remove with slotted spoon and let cool.

In the meantime add garlic, honey, mustard and balsamic and blend, add the oil through the top of blender till it is the consistency of pudding – adjust your seasonings (salt pepper or oil).

Peal the peaches and cut slices save one for garnish – chop the peach into bite size cubes, place in salad bowl, add blue cheese and a large handful of mesclun greens per person add the desired amount of dressing (not too much!) and toss – plate and make a spiral ribbon out of the peach slice and garnish the top. You can accent with a balsamic glaze topping for show! Easy fast and delicious!!!

For Watermelon salad mix that salad dressing with cubed watermelon and fresh sliced up basil – add feta cheese and it’s done!