Outstanding Dinner in the Garden October 22, 2017

Get Tickets for “Outstanding Dinner in the Garden” here

October marks our fourth annual fancy dinner party in the garden. In 2014, we had the perfect party in the garden. Set outside in October when the weather is typically nice, we set up a long table, dressed in white linens, with simple natural decorations. We hired noted chef and caterer Soren Pederson, who didn’t even blink when we told him we had no kitchen, no water and no electricity. He set up his own cook shop on the open lot. We strung up some paper lanterns, greeted guests with a pink cocktail and passed hors d’ d’oeuvres, poured some wine, and Soren and his waiters served us until well after sunset. Some guests remarked, “This feels like a wedding! We should do weddings here in the garden” and even “I’d be happy if this were my wedding!”

outstanding table missyIt was so perfect, we hired the same chef to develop and cook another five course menu in the garden in 2015. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate. Torrential rains and street flooding forced us inside the fire station making for a unique dining experience—unforgettable but less than perfect. In 2016, we had another picture perfect-party outdoor with no rain and a great turnout.

This year we will again greet guests with cocktails under the pergola. Chef Soren Pederson will again fire up his gas stoves and whip us up something fantastic. Dinner will be served family-style by attentive waiters. Special wines will be paired with each course. Not wanting to burden the firemen again, this year we have the Southside Place Clubhouse reserved as an emergency backup location.

If you missed this fundraising party the last threenyears, hurry and buy your tickets because we are sure to sell out. Cost of the tickets are $125 per person. Tickets are available here:

Get Tickets for “Outstanding Dinner in the Garden” only on Yapsody

Click the link above to pay through Paypal or mail a check made payable to SSPCG to 3739 Harper, Houston TX 77005 A portion of the ticket price is tax-deductible, as we are a 501c3 charitable organization. Truly, this is the most outstanding party of the year.

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Blame the Rain” Silent Auction Party was a Winner

Southside Living Magazine Article_July

SSLiving July 2016


Blame the rain for dividing our annual garden party into two fun parties this year. Our big, annual garden fundraiser slated for April was rained out at the last minute. While we served the donated food and wine, the silent auction Chair, Southside Place resident Kristine Martinez, made the call to hold off on the silent auction until a sunny day. She had collected over 25 goods and services from local businesses, including Julie Rhodes Fashion & Home, Alira Salon & Spa and Glow Medical Aesthetics, so that we may put them up for bid. Historically, our silent auctions have, aside from corporate donations, generated the largest deposits to the garden’s coffers. One successful silent auction can fund the maintenance of the garden for one year.

We finally got a break in the weather on Sunday May 22 so that we could hold our silent auction party outside in the garden lot. Residents Carolyn and Bruce Nichol had donated the use of their home in case of rain, which was a distinct possibility with our season of pop-up storms in

the Gulf. The sun scorched the party planning committee setting up tables for the party but there was adequate shade by the 5pm start time. It turned to be the best day of the season and our turnout was splendid, as you can see from the photos.

Because we had distributed the donated food on April 24, we served cheese, pretzels and nuts. Lest anyone go hungry, Bubba’s Burgers food truck sold buffalo and beef burgers from the parking lot. Bubba’s waived their minimum fee because we are a charitable organization. They were delighted to meet their minimum sales in the first half-hour of the party! No wonder, as the community garden is a wonderful place for a picnic. Perhaps we should have food trucks on site monthly, calling it “First Friday Food Truck,” “Third Thursday al fresco,” or something…with City Hall’s approval, of course.

The silent auction was wrapped up at 7pm with almost all of the auction items sold. Most popular were Bryan and Claire Baker’s donated Astros Club level tickets, which generated a series of competitive bids. We would like to thank the residents and local businesses who supported us in making this fundraiser a success, including: Lam Bespoke, Julie Rhodes, Glow, Soul Cycle, Madden Dental, Chandra Stone, Massage Heights, ArtVia, Kelly Gartner Style, Berings, Michael’s Cookie Jar, Define, Tiny’s #5, Mindful Meals, Natural Expressions, Pure Body, The Weekley Family Y, The City of Southside Place, Alira, The Rooted Garden, Avenu Fitness and their soon to open coffee shop, Boomtown, garden members Jennifer Anderson, Vicki Piper, Sally Lukats, Fabiana Cuggionni, Kay Browning, Bryan and Claire Baker, Patty Tilton, and most importantly, Kristine Martinez, auctioneer extraordinaire!

Join the Community Garden by emailing me at jbabcocktx@gmail.com.

Facebook group: www.facebook.com/groups/476972015691263/


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Read about our “rained in” garden party in Southside Living Magazine

Southside Living June 2016photos by Fabiana Cuggioni


click here to open in a separate window Southside_June_2016_Pag_10-11

Rain Dampens the Party but Not our Spirits

 By Julia Babcock

 The problem with having garden parties in Houston is that we are subject to the ever-changing weather patterns of Texas. Months of strategizing, shopping and scheduling went into our 4th Annual outdoor garden party benefit. We were optimistic that, the week after an epic flood, we had a break in the weather. Chance of rain was estimated at 20% on Sunday morning April 24. My iPhone showed a sun and cloud icon on the weather app. The tents were popped. The tables were set. The cakes were delivered. The wine and beer were being iced. The food was cooked and on its way. We were ready to roll. Unfortunately, what rolled is was a thunderstorm, coming at exactly the wrong time, shortly before the party start time.

I had written in previously promising that there would be no rain this year. I was wrong. We had no good rain out plan because we expected a large turnout of kids and families. But once again the City of Southside Place firemen came to the rescue and moved the firetrucks to the driveway so we could set up the food and drinks in the fire station. Molina’s arrived with campechana and chips. The Union Kitchen donated salad and Edloe Deli provided the King Ranch casserole.

We expected only a stalwart few neighbors to attend, so the silent auction was put on hold until a later date. The do-it-yourself container gardening booth was also waylaid. However, as you can see from the photos, we had a good turnout! Vicki Piper led a nutrition lesson for the children and they tasted kale smoothies. We moved outside to the pergola as the rain let up and stayed well past sunset. Families brought Tupperware to take home leftovers and the remaining casserole and cake was fed to our beloved firemen the next day. We didn’t formally take tickets but raised about $1,000 in donations at the door, so overall, it was a successful fundraiser.

When the weather cooperates, outdoor parties in the garden are fantastic, joyful, memorable events but, like planning an outdoor wedding, there is an inherent risk. Is it worth it? I think so. What we need, however, is a rain plan to circumvent the hour or so of “analysis paralysis” before the party deciding what to do. Next year, perhaps we can have an extra Sunday in May saved as a rain out date, reserve the courthouse lobby or clubhouse in advance, or just plan on using the fire station once again if we haven’t burned our bridges with our firemen–no pun intended. Next year, if there is rain for the third year is a row, we’ll be ready.

Join the Community Garden by emailing me at jbabcocktx@gmail.com.

Facebook group: www.facebook.com/groups/476972015691263/

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Blame the Rain Party May 22 5-7pm

Silent Auction Party May 22 2016bubba's

Silent auction & picnic to benefit the Southside Place Community Garden

Our annual outdoor party got rained out in April, so we postponed the silent auction to another SUNNY day. Join us in the garden for wine & cheese, beer, Bubba’s burgers food truck (see Bubba’s Texas Burger Bus Menu here MENU)

And check out all of the silent auction items in this pdf: auction brochure 2016 Here’s just a sampling:

  • Interior Design: Comprehensive design services for 1 room of winning bidder’s choice. Design will include: scale of room, complete space planning, and selection of all fabrics, materials, and pieces to complete room in a visual presentation. $3,500 value. Generously donated by Julie Rhodes Fashion & Hom www.JulieRhodesStyle.com
  • Zoom! Teeth Whitening: If you are interested in a brighter smile up to 6 shades whiter in just 1 hour, Madden Dental has the technology for you with Zoom! In-office whitening.  $600 value
  • Glow Medical Aesthetics: Reveal Brighter, Tighter, Glowing Skin with Glow Medical Aesthetics. This package includes Sublime Skin Tightening Treatment, Botox (20 units in a single area), SkinMedica Lytera Brightening Kit (travel size) and Visia Complexion Analysis andictures.   $750 value. glowhouston.com
  •  Southside Season Pass Membership: Do you love spending hours at the pool and tennis courts?  Did you know a Season Pass also gives you a 25% discount on the rental of the clubhouse, pool and pavilion?  $250 value.
  •  Lam Bespoke: Beautify your home with a set of 3 agateware cache pots and a gorgeous orchid drop-in from Lam Bespoke. $165 value
  • Tiny’s Number 5: Dinner for two at a local favorite – Tiny’s Number 5. A $150 value.
  • The Rooted Garden: 4’ X 4’ raised bed kit valued at $450. therootedgarden.com
  • Astros Tickets: 4 Club Level seats to watch the Astros take on the Seattle Mariners, July 6, 2016. Parking pass included!
  • Alira Sp & Salon: Goddess for a Day Package for Two! Couples massage, season fruit facial, Kerastase hair treatment, with mimosa. Expires 8/31/16. A $400+ value
  • Wine Pull: No bottle is valued less than $35 with most bottles valued over $50.

Join in the fun and bid! Don’t miss out on more wonderful items including a family photography session, closet organization services, home décor, flower arrangements, gift certificates, massage package and more! Bring your checkbooks or credit cards (+3% fee) and place your bids for the chance to win some of these fabulous goods, wines, and services.

Silent Auction Party FLYER May 22 2016bubbas burger photo


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Big Garden Party Bash April 24, 2015 4:30-8:30

April 24 2016 flyer

4th Annual


Garden party

To Benefit the southside place community garden

Party with your neighbors to celebrate our growth!

Join us for another fabulous outdoor party on the garden lot. Music, food, drinks and fun for the whole family. DIY container planting! Ladybug release! Silent auction! Bring your checkbooks! $20 per adult, payable at the garden gate. Kids are free!

Live music by singer-guitarist John Curry

john curry


Food generously donated by Molina’s

The Union Kitchen

Edloe Deli


BYOB + wine, beer + SlimRita’s samples provided


Cake kindly donated by Moeller’s Bakery

Cash-only ice cream truck


Do-It-Yourself Container Gardening


Silent auction!


Fun activities for the kids: ladybug release, worms, nutrition education!


Garden party flyer april 24 2016 2pg

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Wine Tasting and Sale in The Village News

See full story about our upcoming party Sunday March 6 4:30pm  at: http://edition.pagesuite-professional.co.uk/launch.aspx?eid=444cdada-beb3-4050-aa22-24ac1231927e&pnum=0

viaalge news1



viaalge news2Thanks, Ben!

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It’s Spring Party Time!

Last year's wine tasting

Our 2nd Beviamo Italian Wine Tasting is scheduled for March 6, 2016

The Southside Place Community Garden is not just about growing vegetables, it’s also about growing community.  One of the benefits of having a beautiful outdoor space is that we can use it as a gathering spot. Currently the Southside Place Community garden receives no funds from the City nor does it charge a membership fee. All of the money needed to build and maintain the garden comes from fundraisers and donations. Now that we have a fancy pergola donated by Lovett Homes, we can hold stylish events in the garden with ease.

may 2015 garden party3

Last year’s party ended early due to rain.

Our first spring event is a free laidback wine tasting and sale under the pergola on Sunday March 6, 4:30-7:00pm.  Beviamo wine distributors will be pouring a selection of Italian wines. You buy what you like for yourself and, if you are feeling generous, buy one to donate to the garden. This wine sale precedes the big, family-friendly garden party on April 24. Your donated wine will be served or allocated to the “wine pull” at the silent auction at the April 24th party. Cheese and light snacks will be served. In case of rain, the event will be moved to a neighbor’s house.


john curry

Singer John Curry will perform again April 24, 2016

Our second spring even is the fourth annual Southside Place Community Garden Party on Sunday April 24 4:30-8:30pm. Not to be confused with the fancy, white linen, adult-only party in October, this casual p
arty is for the whole family. There will be food provided by local restaurants and this is a BYOB event, although some donated beer and wine (see above) will be provided. Like last year, we’ll hold a silent auction, nutrition education for children, a ladybug release and book reading in the sunflower circles. New this year is a container planting station where you can create your own container garden for you to bring home. Guitarist and singer, John Curry, will be entertaining us with his tunes. Cost for this event is $20 per adult payable at the garden gate. Kids are free. Unlike last year, we have unanimously decided that this year THERE WILL BE NO RAIN. We have no backup plan to move this multifaceted party indoors, except maybe to scurry inside the fire station again.may 2015 garden party4

Join the Southside Place Community Garden! Membership is free. Work days are the first and third Saturday of each month, which are 9am in the summer and 2:30pm in the winter; and the second and fourth Wednesday of each month at 8am.  No gardening experience or knowledge necessary. Email jbabcocktx@gmail.com to join our email list serve. Also you may join our facebook group: www.facebook.com/groups/476972015691263/

Garden party flyer april 24 2016

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What Motivates Our Volunteers?

This month, I interviewed garden volunteers on why they volunteer. Although the general benefits of a community garden appear to be self-evident, our volunteers have a variety of reasons for participating. Many people may find it difficult to make the trek to city hall at 9am on Saturday mornings. We all have busy lives and can come up with multiple reasons why we can’t come on any given work day—I’m sleeping in, need more coffee, don’t feel like getting dirty, etc. But here are some reasons why our committed garden workers do keep coming.

Worker Bees

Emma Eggleton of Jardin Street often brings her children to the garden to educate them on how vegetables grow. She said that the benefits of volunteering are “to get my kids involved and see where their food comes from and get them excited about eating vegetables.” She said that after learning how to grow cucumbers, they planted some at home. The children now have cucumbers in their lunch box. They also learned that tomatoes sometimes look like green apples and hopefully, too, that apples do not grow on bushes. Emma also appreciates the community aspects of the garden, which is different than growing vegetables in your own back yard. Coming from Perth, Australia, she was used to living in a tight community where they had communal chickens, which she likened to caring for communal vegetables. Note that she is not the first person to propose adding a chicken coop to the garden!

Another devoted garden member, Shala Farhat, lives in a townhouse and does not have the room to garden. Clearly a talented cook, Shala has harvested carrots, herbs, cucumbers, tomatoes, and beans from our garden and cooked them all in creative ways. Shala thinks that in addition to playgrounds and parks, it is critical to teach kids that “this is where the vegetables come from and not the grocery store. Everything tastes much better when you grow it.” She said “it is really important in urban areas, that we have vegetable gardens…Houston needs to have more places like this where we can grow stuff that you can actually use.” She suggested that more of our city parks include areas for raised beds. Shala is aware of both the individual health benefits and the environmental impact of the garden. She said, “It’s important being out in the environment, meeting new people, getting some sun.” In addition, the garden “has to be close enough because if you have to drive 20 miles, what point is that? You should be able to walk or bike to it.”

We do encourage all Southside Place residents to walk or bike to the garden, bring their kids, participate in the work days, and harvest what you can use. Work days are the first and third Saturday of each month, which are 9am in the summer and 2:30pm in the winter; and the second and fourth Wednesday of each month at 8am.  Perhaps you will find for yourself more benefits of community gardening.

Post Oak making teepee

Join the Southside Place Community Garden! Membership is free. Open to all—not just Southside Place residents. Just email jbabcocktx@gmail.com to join our club. Also you may join our facebook group: www.facebook.com/groups/476972015691263/


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We are part of the AGRIHOOD

Welcome to the Agrihood: Building Communities with Community Gardens, Farm Stands and More

Agrihoods_Neighbors Dining Outside

Agrihoods help build community spirit when neighbors can gather to enjoy the veggies they’ve grown together.

Swimming pool. Clubhouse. Golf course. Hiking trail. Farm. These are among the many amenities new homebuilders offer buyers in today’s new communities.

Wait a minute. Farm? Yes, you read that right.

Whether it’s a working farm,vegetable gardening plots, farm stands, participatory cooking classes or Happy Farmer family nights, builders are finding ways to introduce community agriculture, or so-called agrihoods, into new-home developments.

The Agrihood Craze

Offering homebuyers both practical and emotional benefits, the agrihood trend builds on such themes as health, wellness, slow food, whole food and hyperlocal food production, says Brent Herrington, executive vice president of DMB, a developer of residential communities in Arizona, California and Hawaii.

“I see it as a slow revolution that has taken hold and started to be an animating force in the real estate industry rather than just a fringe lifestyle choice that individual people may have made in decades past,” Herrington says.

The tangible benefits are primarily edible as community agricultural efforts produce a bountiful harvest. Tenant farmers and residents grow lettuces, kales, herbs, tomatoes, onions, squashes, okras, peas, mushrooms, garlic, peppers and much more. Produce is also bought and sold at farm stands and used for communal meals.

The emotional benefits include the social aspects of community agriculture and aesthetics of farmscape, which is a landscape that includes open space, crops, trees, streams and other natural elements.

“Growing food, and then later gathering, harvesting and enjoying preparing and sharing food you’ve grown with your own hands is deep, emotional, powerful stuff. It draws people together,” Herrington says.

Farm and Garden

In some new-home communities, ag is just another amenity. In others, it’s a way of life.

Within those extremes, communities offer a variety of options. There are working farms, community gardens and backyard grow-your-own plots, all with varying degrees of help from local farming, gardening and food preparation experts.

Hillwood Communities’ Harvest project in Dallas offers residents three amenities within the community agriculture theme, says Tom Woliver, director of project management.

The centerpiece is a working five-acre farm. Tenant farmers sell greenhouse-grown microgreens to local restaurants, educate homeowners about farming and donate a portion of the produce to a local food bank. A demonstration or “test” garden in front of the farm shows residents how to grow their own watermelons, popping corn and other popular crops. Individual community garden plots allow homeowners to grow their own produce on their own time with their own tools, materials and efforts.

“We built 50 rentable raised garden beds in the first phase and they were sold out with our first 50 homeowners. We’re now building 70 more,” Woliver says. “We also have the option for every homeowner to build, through their builder or the association, raised beds in their backyard so they can grow their own food.”

“Everything You Need”

The new-home community of Willowsford in Ashburn, Va., features a working farm, farm stand, raised beds for demonstration projects and an on-site kitchen, says Brian Cullen, who leads the development operation for Corbelis Development.

The farm stand — soon to be joined by a second one — sells locally sourced chickens, eggs and dairy products as well as the farm’s fresh produce. “If you want to have a barbecue,” Cullen says, “you can walk to the farm stand and get everything you need for your dinner.”

Some early agrihoods required residents to participate in farm work. Newer communities tend to favor volunteer models that allow residents to pick and choose their own activities and levels of involvement.

Many activities are low-intensity and suitable for all ages, Cullen says.

“We have a front farm that is part of the farm stand,” he says. “It has raised beds and we use it for education or pick-your-own, like when strawberries are in season. We also use that front garden on Thursdays when we have Happy Farmer nights. The kids come out and do weeding or mulching or picking something.”

Life in An Agrihood

Homeowner John Pellerito, 35, and his wife, Kristy, 37, have lived at Willowsford since August 2014 with their two children, Sophia, 7, and Tommy, 4.

Pellerito says the agrihood wasn’t why he and Kristy chose their home. Rather, the main attraction was the two-story floor plan, a contemporary open arrangement with 6,000 square feet of space.

Still, they’ve enjoyed the agricultural component of their community.

“We’ve always been health-conscience and shopped mostly at Whole Foods for our produce and meat. The notion that there would be a farm within the community that would produce a good portion of the food we eat was very attractive and interesting to us,” Pellerito says.

The farm is located more than a mile from their home, so they haven’t been affected by any noise or odor, Pellerito says. Nor have they participated in any grow-your-own or hands-in-the-dirt activities. “This is all done for you. It’s well-packaged and managed,” he says.

Their primary interaction has been with the farm stand, which they visit every Saturday when it’s open, Pellerito says. They’ve also attended dinner events and daytime activities a few times each month when they’ve been able to secure places at the table.

“I would like to be able to do more,” Pellerito says. “It’s an open registration and you have to register immediately or they are sold out.”

Perhaps the biggest benefit has been the opportunity to educate the next generation. “We really like the aspect of teaching our children about farming,” Pellerito says, “that you grow food and it’s much healthier to eat food that you grow locally.”

In an agrihood, that might mean right around the corner.

Marcie Geffner is an award-winning freelance reporter, book editor and blogger whose work has been published by a long list of financial, mortgage and banking websites, trade magazines and newspapers. You can find her on Google+.
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Outstanding in the Fire Station

Last October, we held our first Outstanding Dinner in the Garden. Modeled after the traveling Outstanding in the Field ™ dinner party, we set one long table for 54 guests outside in the vacant lot next to the garden.  A string of white paper lanterns illuminated the table, serving beef, chicken, and fish and three other courses family style. Last year, everything was so PERFECT that we didn’t want to change a thing.

Outstanding 2015 Bryan

This year, we hired the same chef Chef Soren Pedersen, formerly of Sorrel Urban BistSoren3ro, now a private caterer, to plan and prepare a 5-course menu. We envisioned the same, long table in the vacant lot, but this year longer to accommodate more guests. We anticipated thanking Adam Gonzalez of Ramm Excavation for his supervision of the construction of
our beautiful new pergola, and serving appetizers and cocktails under this new meeting place. The only thing we changes is that we upped our wine game, with the Houston Wine Merchant pairing wines specially to each course of Chef Pedersen’s menu. We promptly sold out the 80 available seats.

Outstanding 2015 Jen

It hadn’t rained in Houston in over six weeks. Houston was in a drought. The weather for the citywide block party on October 18th was perfect. However, shortly before our party, Hurricane Patricia came up from Mexico, rain came in from the west, and strong winds came in from the east. We were in the vortex of three storms with severe street flooding projected. Many weekend events were canceled. We had to make the decision to get tents, go inside, or cancel. Plan B was tents: Renting tents was cost prohibitive and none that were long enough were available. I bought four tents online, but the never arrived. Maybe that was for the best, as the heavy rains saturated the grass and there was a threat of lightening. Plan C was to go inside the fire station next door to the garden.  The firemen pulled the firetrucks out, cleaned the floor and turned over the building to us. We set three long tables, dressed in white linens inside the stark building and strung white paper lanterns over the space. We greeted guests in the city hall lobby with prosecco, our signature “Outstanding Cocktail.” and passed hors d’oeuvres.

Outstanding 2015 McClure


Outstanding Dave

Then we moved into the fire
station for the remaining four courses of gazpacho, salad, main courses of trout, chick and beef, and dessert of chocolate chili cake and pound cake, all paired with a lovely wine chosen by Scott Spencer of Houston Wine Merchant. Some inadvertent entertainment was provided by the firefighters who had to dress and respond to an electrical fire in the middle of the party!


Outstanding 2015 Lisa

Being plan C, the venue and ambiance wasn’t perfect, but it was still OUTSTANDING!  We had a great turn out and guests were raving about the food and the fun of the whole event.


Outstanding 2015 Jen RonOutstanding 2015 Patty

Special thanks go to Scott Spencer and Barb DeWitt for the wine donation, the firemen and Assistant Chief of Police Ulysses Serrano for donating their space, and Jennifer Anderson and Ron Shimkus for the chair rental donation and for their hard labor in turning a fire station into a charming restaurant.  If you missed out, don’t worry: We’ll do it again next October–hopefully outside in pleasant weather.

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