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Sarasota Thursday, Mar. 22, 2012 5 years ago

Culverhouse Nature Park features take shape

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

The Culverhouse Nature Park, off McIntosh Road, is taking shape right before Palmer Ranch residents’ eyes.

During a Palmer Ranch Communities Coalition meeting earlier this month, Vice President Bob Mills announced that preliminary work on the park’s community garden was under way, with a shed having been erected, an irrigation well drilled, part of the property having been mowed and a fence installed around the garden, thanks primarily to funds from a neighborhood grant program under the aegis of Sarasota County.

It’s all taking shape on an 82-acre site that Palmer Ranch owner and developer Hugh Culverhouse Jr. donated to Sarasota County last year. The park will be bordered by The Legacy Trail on the west, The Hamptons subdivision on the southeast and the Wellington Chase subdivision on the northeast.

The initial park segment is the Culverhouse Community Garden.

With deed restrictions preventing many Palmer Ranch residents from keeping a garden that’s visible from the road, Catherine Dente, one of the community garden’s organizers, said 60 out of 65 garden plots had been purchased already, for $50 each. In fact, no more plot sales will be allowed until the community is certain room will be available, Dente said.

In the meantime, founders bricks for the garden are selling for $100 apiece; buyers will be able to offer comments or quotes for printing on the bricks they purchase. The sale is a fundraiser for the garden, Dente said.

“We will begin enriching the soil this summer and it will take some time to experiment with what will grow,” Dente said. “We’re very excited.”

Because of the deer and feral hogs in the area, a fence recently was erected around the garden, at a cost of $13,000. The community grant covered most of the expense. A shed also has been erected for future garden use, and a well has been dug for a 1,500-gallon cistern that will irrigate the garden plots via a pump operated by solar panels. The cistern and panels will be installed later this month.

Future park amenities include parking for cars and racks for bicycles, a leadoff point for The Legacy Trail, a nature park, a pavilion, nature trails and a playground. The Friends of Palmer Ranch Parks is working closely with Sarasota County staff on the design of the facilities.

Sarasota County Parks and Recreation General Manager Carolyn Brown said the park would be open to the public late this summer or early this fall, after a driveway is created to mark the park’s official entrance.

“It’s going to be a welcome addition to our parks system, and a lot of residents are excited about it,” Brown said.

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