Riverside Avondale Preservation (RAP) this past weekend hosted their annual Spring Tour of Homes, an opportunity to visit a sampling of beautifully restored and furnished homes in the historic Riverside/Avondale neighborhoods of Jacksonville. Each year, RAP partners with the St. Johns Riverkeeper to highlight a River Friendly Yard on the Tour in an effort to educate and encourage homeowners to adopt garden practices that conserve water and prevent detrimental chemical runoff into our river. This Spring, North Florida Land Trust was recognized as the Outstanding River Friendly Yard on the Tour!
A well-attended tradition, the Tour brought over 600 people to the Land Trust’s humble historic office and garden in Riverside, one stop out of the Tour’s 14 featured homes and sites. Other sites included a native plant sale at Native Park in Riverside, and the newly designed community garden across from Willowbranch Library.
Guests to the North Florida Land Trust office were able to tour the old house, built in 1922, which has been restored to include an interior wall addition accommodating more office space. Five staff members occupy the office daily, as well as interns and volunteers on a weekly basis. The office has two bathrooms, a kitchen, and a conference room in the back for meetings and extra work space. During the tour, the conference room served as a display to highlight one of our current campaigns to preserve the Spanish-American War Fort in Arlington on historic St. Johns Bluff.
On the porch, guests could mingle and gather information about River Friendly gardening, native plantsand their discouraged, invasive counterparts, as well as the plants specific to the River Friendly and Edible Yard out front. Guests were encouraged to walk the garden and discover the variety and biodiversity of plant and wildlife found even in a small, cultivated space in an urban setting.
North Florida Land Trust has hosted four volunteer workdays to help grow the garden in the front yard. It has been a learning opportunity and a group effort since the garden was planted last Spring. NFLT also partnered with the expert gardeners of The Food Park Project to design and initially implement the garden, and works with EcoDesign Solutions to help maintain it. We are grateful to their hard work and volunteer hours in being good stewards of the land at our office garden and elsewhere in our region.
Many thanks to the St. Johns Riverkeeper for their great River Friendly Yard program. It is so important that we each do our part to take care of our land, which takes care of our water. Thanks also to RAP for hosting us on the Tour. We enjoyed meeting new faces in the community, and participating in this great community event.