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Space invaders

RACCOON SS76087606

Act quickly to eliminate, discourage wildlife from your home

By Gail Allyn Short

Alabama is blessed with an array of wildlife, from the squirrels, raccoons and skunks to the white-tailed deer. They’re adorable on television, in books and from a distance. But when members of the animal kingdom crawl, climb, dig, gnaw and leap into your dwelling to snag a meal and some shelter, they’re not so cute anymore. You want them away from your home. Fast. Here’s what the experts say you need to know to keep these wildlife invaders out of your space.

Rats

Habitat: They can live almost anywhere.

How they invade your home: Rats can get in your home through openings around the foundation of your home, entry holes around water and gas pipes and even around the roofline. “They can get in your house anywhere from the ground up,” says Lance Moore, owner of Critter Control in Huntsville. “They like to come in when the weather gets cold and during the summer months.”

The problem: Rats can transmit dangerous diseases with scary names like leptospirosis, hantavirus, lymphocytic Chorio-meningitis, rat bite fever and bubonic plague.

What you need to do: “Close any holes around your home’s foundation, vents and pipes going in and around your air conditioning unit,” says Moore, “and close up any other dime-size holes.” Pest control experts say you also can plug up holes with steel wool and put down glue boards and traps perpendicular to walls.

Squirrels

Their natural habitat: They love hanging around nut-bearing trees, pastures and yards.

How they invade your home: “Squirrels normally get in through the roof return or eaves,” says Stephen Weeks, a wildlife consultant with Conserv Wildlife Services. “It’s any weak spot in the construction of your house. They can chew their way into a corner of your roof, get into your attic and run around.”

The problem: “Once they get into the attic, they’ll dig out spots in your insulation or get into the small, nooks and crannies of your attic and build their nests,” says Weeks. “They can tear up your insulation and ductwork, which is expensive.” They also like chewing on electrical wires, which can start a fire.

What you need to do:  “Keep your trees trimmed back from your house several feet because they can jump pretty far,” says Weeks, “and keep your gutters clean and pine straw off of your roof because that’s going to attract the animal.” Weeks also suggests hiring a contractor to close up openings in the eaves and roofline.

Raccoons

Their natural habitat: They live around wooded and waterfront properties.

What attracts them: The smell of leftovers emanating from garbage cans. They can enter through garage door openings, chimneys, crawl space access doors and roof vents.

The problem: “Sometimes they get into the attic where they eat and run around. They can tear up your insulation,” Weeks says. They can also be aggressive and carry rabies.

What you need to do: “Don’t leave trash outside,” he says. “Keep it inside until trash day.” Also, be sure to keep your trees trimmed to keep branches as far away from your roof as possible.

Skunks

Natural habitat: They live around forest edges and in urban areas. “Seventy percent of my wildlife work is skunks,” says Steve Crawford, owner of SGH Pest Management Inc., in Cullman. “They’re everywhere.”

How they invade your home: In late fall, the females look for warm nesting sites, which can include the crawl space of your house.

The problem: The smell. “January and February is when people realize they have skunks,” Crawford says. “No product on the market will eliminate that smell, and if you have ductwork in your crawl space, when the heat comes on, the smell will get in your home.”

What you need to do: Be sure to seal up the entry points around your home’s foundation, says Crawford. Other experts suggest using repellants such as homemade or commercial castor oil or capsaicin.

Bats

Natural habitat: The most common bats found in Alabama include the brown bat and the evening bat. They live in trees, caves and buildings.

How they invade your house: They can squeeze in through the gable vent, and they like hanging out in attics, along rooflines, in chimneys, behind shutters and inside walls.

The problem: Besides causing anxiety, bats’ fecal matter can transmit bacteria to humans, damage sheetrock and emit a powerful and unpleasant odor, says Crawford. The upside: Bats eat mosquitoes and other bugs.

What you need to do: Make sure all of your windows are screened. Crawford also recommends hiring someone to place a galvanized metal mesh outside of roof and gable vents.

Deer

Natural habitat: Wooded areas, but overpopulation and encroaching development push them closer to urban and suburban areas.

The problem: Deer will graze on most anything green and can destroy ornamental shrubs, flower beds and vegetable gardens. Bucks will also rub their antlers on woody saplings, which can kill the plant.

What you need to do: Perimeter fences are a good (if potentially costly) solution, Weeks says. A backyard dog can help. And certain plants, such as onions, garlic, chives, mint, catnip, lavender, sage and thyme can be planted to deter feeding in gardens, according to information from the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.′

Outdoors: game birds

Daniel Felsher takes a shot at game while hunting from a canoe in the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta near Mobile, Ala. Photo by John N. Felsher
Daniel Felsher takes a shot at game while hunting from a canoe in the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta near Mobile, Ala.
Photo by John N. Felsher

Often-ignored game birds provide fast action

“Shoot,” I yelled as birds exploded in all directions from thick reeds just a few feet from us. “There’s another one. Fire! Here comes a straggler. Get him!”

In seconds, my son pumped out three rounds from his 20-gauge shotgun, scoring a double. More birds flushed from the dense cover of the Mobile-Tensaw Delta marshes while others raced into the canes to escape as Daniel quickly tried to reload. Hastily dropping one shell into the chamber, he downed another bird struggling to get airborne.

Fortunately, the birds that were flushed didn’t travel far. We watched where most were headed, picked up our game and took a brief break. Minutes later, after the initial adrenaline rush, we found them again for another round. Repeating this procedure during the next two hours, Daniel fired a box of shells before bagging his limit.

Alabama sportsmen can target abundant game birds that frequently go unnoticed by others, but provide incredible action. Common and purple gallinules both bear a resemblance to coots. One of the most striking North American game birds, purple gallinules exhibit blue and green body feathers, purple heads, long yellow legs, white rumps and red bills with yellow tips. Bright blue forehead patches distinguish purple gallinules from their more drab red-patched cousins.

People can also bag king rails, the largest of the rail species. Sora rails almost look like quail with short, powerful bills. Gallinules and these rail species typically prefer freshwater systems with abundant thick vegetation growing in or near the water edge or matted on the surface.

Alone among the rails, clappers like salty marshes. Also called marsh hens, clappers look like skinny chickens with long bills. They often walk mudflats in coastal marshes looking to snatch invertebrates to eat. People often hear their clack, clack, clack calling.

Rail and gallinule seasons generally run concurrent with duck season, but sportsmen can get an early jump on these birds during the September teal season. Some people hunt teal at first light and then go looking for rails and gallinules later in the morning. A limit of gallinules can turn a humdrum teal hunt into an exciting adventure, especially for young children or novice sportsmen.

Most hunting done from boats

A drake purple gallinule tiptoes through the reeds along a shoreline.  Photo by John N. Felsher
A drake purple gallinule tiptoes through the reeds along a shoreline. Photo by John N. Felsher

Since rails and gallinules do not respond to decoys or calls, sportsmen must go looking for them. Because soft mud in places like the Mobile-Tensaw Delta can make walking the marshes difficult, most people hunt them from small boats. Federal law prohibits shooting at migratory birds like rails and gallinules from boats under power, but sportsmen can paddle, drift or pole through the marshes or along a lake shoreline to hunt them.

Some people hunt alone, paddling canoes or other craft with their shotguns ready in a safe, convenient place, but sportsmen can hunt more effectively in teams. One person in the bow keeps a gun ready while the other person paddles, positions the boat and acts as spotter.

Paddling up rails and gallinules makes a great way to introduce children to hunting. They don’t have to sit long hours in a deer stand keeping quiet. They might see many birds in a good area so enjoy great action. In addition, hunters can easily carry snacks and refreshments in an ice chest and take occasional breaks if they wish.

Look for these birds along shorelines of sloughs and small channels with abundant matted vegetation and tall reeds that provide significant cover. At low tide, scan exposed mudbanks and grassy edges. At high tide, scrutinize any tall canes. Unlike loner rails, gallinules sometimes congregate in flocks in shallow coves with patches of matted aquatic grass. With their long toes, gallinules nimbly walk over floating lily pads, water hyacinths or other vegetation.

Rails and gallinules can fly and swim, but prefer to run into thick weeds to escape their enemies. When they do flush, they seldom fly far, usually dropping into a nearby clump of dense canes to hide. Hunters can frequently relocate them rather quickly.

The marshes of the Mobile-Tensaw Delta near Mobile probably offer the best opportunities to hunt rails and gallinules in Alabama, but people can also hunt many reedy lake or river shorelines throughout the state. Just about any freshwater system with tall reeds might hold gallinules.


JOHN FELSHER 2014

John N. Felsher is a freelance writer and photographer who writes from Semmes, Ala. Contact him through his website at www.JohnNFelsher.com

Protect the ones you love

Football_Sept16

Help keep kids safe during fall sports

By Allison Griffin

Physical exercise and team sports help young people develop friendships, learn about teamwork and encourage healthy lifestyle habits that can last a lifetime.

But an emphasis on safety is a must for any young athlete. More than 2.6 million children ages 19 and under are seen in emergency departments for injuries related to sports and recreation each year. This includes sports, such as football and basketball, as well as activities, such as playing on a playground, scooter riding and jumping on a trampoline, according to a 2015 fact sheet from Safe Kids Worldwide.

The fall sports season is a perfect time to review some safety tips and guidelines.

Heat-related illness

Though practices for fall sports are under way, heat-related injuries should remain a concern until the cooler months arrive.

  • Avoid scheduling workouts and exercise during the hottest times of the day – schedule them for early in the day or later in the evening.
  • Have them take frequent, longer breaks. Stop about every 20 minutes to drink fluids and try to have them stay in the shade.
  • Those in charge should reduce the amount of heavy equipment athletes wear in the extremely hot weather.
  • Dress athletes in net-type jerseys or light-weight, light-colored cotton tee shirts and shorts.
  • Know the signs of heat-related emergencies and monitor athletes closely.
  • Athletes should inform those in charge if they are not feeling well.

Brain-related injury

A concussion is a brain injury that affects how the brain works. It can happen when the brain gets bounced around in the skull after a fall or hit to the head. The potential for brain injury isn’t just for those who play football. Parents and kids involved in soccer, baseball, softball, cheerleading, lacrosse, volleyball, and more should learn about prevention and care of brain injuries.

You may have a concussion if you have any of these symptoms after a bump, blow or jolt to the head or body:

  • Headache
  • Feeling dizzy, sluggish or foggy
  • Are bothered by light or noise
  • Have double or blurry vision
  • Vomit or feel sick to your stomach
  • Have trouble focusing or problems remembering
  • Feel more emotional or “down”
  • Feel confused
  • Have problems with sleep

If you think you or someone else has a concussion:

  • Report it. Tell a coach or parent, because playing with a concussion is dangerous.
  • Get checked out by a doctor. Don’t return to play on the day of the injury.
  • Give the brain time to heal. Most athletes with a concussion get better within a couple of weeks. For some, a concussion can make everyday activities, such as going to school, harder. Be sure to update parents and the family physician about how the athlete is doing.

In general

Many school-related sports teams require a pre-season physical examination, but some recreation leagues may not. If your young athlete hasn’t had one, make an appointment for him or her and follow your doctor’s recommendations.

Some other general sports safety guidelines:

  • Warm-up and cool down properly with low-impact exercises like walking or cycling.
  • Consistently incorporate strength training and stretching. A good stretch involves not going beyond the point of resistance and should be held for 10-12 seconds.
  • Hydrate adequately to maintain health and minimize muscle cramps. Waiting until you are thirsty is often too late to hydrate properly.
  • Keep an eye out for unsafe play surfaces. Playing grounds should be in good condition.
  • Don’t play through the pain. Speak with an orthopedic sports medicine specialist or athletic trainer if you have concerns about injuries.
  • Make sure kids wear protective gear such as cleats, pads, helmets, mouth guard or other necessary equipment for the selected sport. Be sure that sports protective equipment is in good condition, fits appropriately and is worn correctly all the time — for example, avoid missing or broken buckles or compressed or worn padding. Poorly fitting equipment may be uncomfortable and may not offer the best protection.
  • Practice makes perfect. Have children learn and practice skills they need in their activity. For example, knowing how to tackle safely is important in preventing injuries in football and soccer. Have children practice proper form – this can prevent injuries during baseball, softball, and many other activities. Also, be sure to safely and slowly increase activities to improve physical fitness; being in good condition can protect kids from injury.
  • Encourage athletes to play multiple positions and/or sports during the off-season to minimize overuse injuries.
  • Pay attention to weather conditions such as wet, slippery fields that can lead to injuries.
  • Avoid the pressure to overtrain. Tell children to listen to their bodies and decrease training time and intensity, if pain or discomfort develops. This will reduce the risk of injury and help avoid “burn-out.”
  • Be a good model. Communicate positive safety messages and serve as a model of safe behavior, including wearing a helmet and following the rules.

Additional stats

  • Most organized sports-related injuries (62 percent) occur during practice rather than games.
  • The most common types of sport-related injuries among children are sprains (mostly ankle), muscle strains, bone or growth plate injuries, repetitive motion injuries and heat-related illness.
  • More than 90 percent of sports-related concussions occur without the loss of consciousness.

Note: This information is not a substitute for medical or professional care. Direct specific questions or concerns about your or your child’s health to a physician or other health care provider.

Sources: American Red Cross, American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Safe Kids Worldwide

Gardens: pomegranates

POMEGRANATES-IN-BOWL

Alabama pomegranates: A past and future treasure

When Old World settlers arrived in Alabama several hundred years ago, many brought along the fruits from their homelands, including the fabled pomegranate. While those early settlers are long gone, many of those pomegranate trees, or at least their offspring, still remain in the state, and Shane Jennings of Baldwin County is on a mission to find these remnants of Alabama’s horticultural past and perhaps make them part of the state’s future.

Pomegranates (Punica granatum) are native to Iran and on into the Himalayas and India, but they have been cultivated across the globe for thousands of years and treasured for their flavor, nutritional and medicinal value and even their mystical properties. Today they are a venerated “super food,” and if Jennings has his way, they may soon become a prized agricultural crop for Alabama.

Jennings, an avid plant collector, discovered the potential of pomegranates a bit by accident when he set out to add a few pomegranates to his personal collection.

Pomegranate arils have many culinary uses. They make tasty, crisp snacks and can be sprinkled on dishes to add flavor and beauty to salads, desserts and other dishes. They can also be pressed to release their healthy, delicious juices or cooked down to make a rich, luscious syrup.
Pomegranate arils have many culinary uses. They make tasty, crisp snacks and can be sprinkled on dishes to add flavor and beauty to salads, desserts and other dishes. They can also be pressed to release their healthy, delicious juices or cooked down to make a rich, luscious syrup.

“Everything you hear and read about pomegranates talks about this one cultivar named ‘Wonderful,’” Jennings said. ‘Wonderful’ pomegranates are the ones we typically see in grocery stores, which have leathery, reddish rinds and medium-hard seeds encased in juicy, sweet-tart tasting arils.

While ‘Wonderful’ poms do have wonderful attributes, Jennings found that there are many other pomegranates available in a wide variety of colors, degrees of sweetness and even flavors, such as watermelon and lemonade. With some 500 varieties and cultivars to choose among, Jennings had a hard time picking which ones to buy, but he finally settled on six cultivars representing several different flavors.

He also began to learn more about pomegranates through a somewhat unexpected source — his day job running an ice cream delivery route. Lots of proprietors at the small convenience stores along Jennings’ route are immigrants hailing from countries where pomegranates are a dietary staple, and they were thrilled to learn he was growing one of their favorite fruits.

“Every one of them said they would love to buy pomegranates, but the ones in grocery stores don’t taste like the ones from their home countries,” Jennings says. “They told me, ‘If you will grow them, we will buy them.’”

So Jennings expanded his collection (he now has some 100 cultivars on his land in Robertsdale) and also began attending pomegranate grower meetings in Florida and Georgia. He soon realized that Alabama’s pomegranate potential was too great to keep to himself and he set out to spread the word about these amazing fruits (which are technically considered berries) by creating an Alabama Pomegranate Facebook page, an educational and networking resource for home gardeners and commercial growers alike.

In an effort to get more people interested in growing pomegranates, Shane Jennings has been taking an Alabama Pomegranate Association exhibit to fruit and vegetable grower meetings across the state, such as this exhibit at the Farm, Home and Wildlife Expo held at the Chilton Research and Extension Center in Clanton in August. The APA will hold its first annual meeting Oct. 14 at the Gulf Coast Research and Extension Center in Fairhope, a meeting open to APA members and non-members.
In an effort to get more people interested in growing pomegranates, Shane Jennings has been taking an Alabama Pomegranate Association exhibit to fruit and vegetable grower meetings across the state, such as this exhibit at the Farm, Home and Wildlife Expo held at the Chilton Research and Extension Center in Clanton in August. The APA will hold its first annual meeting Oct. 14 at the Gulf Coast Research and Extension Center in Fairhope, a meeting open to APA members and non-members.

He also founded the Alabama Pomegranate Association, an organization committed to promoting education, research and pomegranate varieties best suited for the state. The APA’s first annual meeting, open to both association members and non-members, will be Oct. 14, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at the Gulf Coast Research and Extension Center in Fairhope.

As he began to promote pomegranates at meetings and in chats with local residents on his route, Jennings discovered another source of pomegranate cultivars — heirloom pomegranate trees planted generations ago.

“People kept telling me that their granny had a pomegranate tree,” he says, and many of those people knew right where that tree was located. Though pomegranates are typically long-lived plants, some trees are 100 or more years old and have likely survived because they possess exceptional cold, disease and pest resistance specific to Alabama.

Jennings is collecting cuttings from these trees to root in hopes of preserving their genetic history and also using them in a breeding program to develop new, commercially viable pomegranate cultivars for Alabama’s growing conditions.

There is much work to be done before Alabama’s pomegranate potential is fully realized, but Jennings hopes that more and more people will get involved and make that happen. To report old trees or learn about growing pomegranates, check out the Facebook page (search Alabama Pomegranate Association) or alabamapomegranateassociation.com where you can register for the APA meeting. Or contact Jennings directly at (251) 725-2184 or shanejennings07@yahoo.com. He’s always happy to talk about pomegranates!


September Tips

  • Remove dead plants and debris from landscape areas and garden beds.
  • Compost that lawn and garden waste, along with organic kitchen waste.
  • Plant fall and winter vegetables and root crops, perennials, biennials and spring-flowering bulbs.
  • Fertilize azaleas and camellias.
  • Continue to mow and irrigate lawns as needed and sow winter grass seed on bare areas.
  • Divide and transplant perennials, irises and daylilies.
  • Keep bird feeders and birdbaths clean and filled to attract resident and migratory birds this fall.

JACKSON, KATIE Gardening 2013

Katie Jackson is a freelance writer and editor based in Opelika, Alabama. Contact her at katielamarjackson@gmail.com.

Worth the drive: Graves Grocery

GRAVES STOREFRONT

BLTs and grilled cheese: Come sit a spell at community’s ‘rest stop’

Story and photos by Jennifer Crossley Howard

Upon first arriving at Graves Grocery in Lacey’s Spring, one would be forgiven for assuming Idgie Threadgoode and Ruth Jamison are inside frying green tomatoes. Graves Grocery is a dead ringer for Fannie Flagg’s fictional Whistlestop Cafe.

Inside the simple white frame restaurant, Pam Graves is grilling BLTs and grilled cheese for the lunch crowd. A humble wooden sign welcomes you to the “community rest stop,” and inside, past a front porch adorned with tables and knockout roses, is a rough-hewn place to sit a spell that would please granny, her granddaughters and the pickers from TV.

Besides word of mouth, the aroma of coffee, bacon and fudge that greets visitors is Graves Grocery’s best advertising.

The people of Lacey’s Spring, located at the base of Brindley Mountain between Hartselle and Huntsville, had been waiting for a hangout to call their own for a while. The only other restaurant, a Hardee’s, is 5 miles away.

“Oh mercy, it’s such a blessing,” Graves says. “Honestly, I just opened the doors, and they came. Sometimes I feel like Kevin Costner from ‘Field of Dreams.’ If you build it, they will come.”

She serves breakfast and lunch, five days a week. Biscuits and gravy are popular for breakfast and lunch diners favor grilled pimento cheese sandwiches, but Graves takes off-menu requests as well.

“If I’m not swamped, I’ll cook it,” she says.

On a recent summer afternoon, regulars sit across from Graves, who has run this grocery for three years, and her friend, Donna McMahan, who is helping fill orders. Streamers and balloons celebrating Graves’ 50th birthday complement eclectic decor that marries homespun art, a vintage deli display case and shelves of mementoes, including a General Electric TV and dried hydrangeas. The women fried hamburgers behind the counter and chitchatted with customers about kids, school and whether their food is good. It is.

Only real butter

GRAVES PATRONS

“I only use real butter,” Graves says.

She doesn’t skimp on condiments either. “I always thought it would be good to be noted as the place that puts mayonnaise on both sides of the bread. That’s what we do.”

Graves was a stay at home mother to five kids before working at two Huntsville restaurants and never dreamed she would revive this grocery and sandwich shop. But she longed to be immersed in her community while using her new business skills.

“There was nowhere in this community for anyone to sit and drink a cup of coffee,” she says.

The second time the building became available, Graves got it. This summer, a church group from Huntsville will likely move the kitchen closer to the counter and maybe replace flooring. But this place will never be mistaken for a trendy bistro. Graves Grocery is the restaurant equivalent of a child’s well-worn teddy bear. It serves familiar comfort food, and that’s the way customers like it.

“The food is good, and they do so much for the community,” says Bridgett Howell of Huntsville, who eats lunch here with her children.

Graves expands Graves Grocery’s role beyond food by projecting free movies onto the side of the building and hosting a summer concert series on the lawn. Kids dance and Graves serves a Low Country Boil and pork tenderloin.

“It’s kind old fashioned,” McMahan says. “It takes you back.”

The grocery served a free Thanksgiving dinner last year, and has hosted quilt and pottery classes.

For at least 35 years, the Atkinson family ran a mercantile and sandwich shop in this house, Graves says, and cooked food to go. The 100-year-old building has been moved twice, once to a field down the road.

In the back, Southern gems like Golden Flake potato chips and bottles of Coke fill shelves as do tagged consignment items. Graves sells meat and cheese by the pound from Hillsboro, just like the Atkinsons. Most desserts, including pecan pie and coconut creme pie, are from the Dutch Oven Bakery in Falkville.

The best compliment a diner ever gave Graves was that eating at her restaurant was like eating in her own kitchen.

“If I’ve had a rough day or a hard time with my kids, the minute I step in here everything is fine,” Graves says. “When you serve something with a gracious spirit, it really makes people feel good.”



Graves Grocery
10034 Highway 36 East, Lacey’s Spring, AL 35754
256-885-3717
7 a.m.-3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday
www.gravesgrocery.com

Go grape!

shutterstock_5092126

Alabama’s only native grapes are as full of valuable nutrients as they are flavor.

Muscadine grapes (of which scuppernongs are one variety) are the native grape of the Southeast and have been growing wild all over the region for centuries. Their verdant vines produce round, plump fruit that once nourished Native Americans, and they were discovered growing freely, climbing up trees and tangling over brush, by Europeans colonizing North Carolina. Today, this grape variety is cultivated all over Alabama in backyards, on farms and at wineries, and wild vines still twist around trunks tucked away in forests and tumble and crawl over fence posts on the edges of fields.

When I was a kid, my mama’s daddy had four lines of scuppernong vines off to one side of his backyard. On any late summer or early autumn visit, my attention was fixed on the sun-warmed, speckled golden orbs that hung from the vines, almost hidden beneath wide green leaves. I’d pick as many as I could reach and pop them in my mouth, devouring their distinct sweetness, earthy and woodsy. The grapes’ thick, sinewy skins make you work for even the tiniest taste; you have to chew through that rubbery exterior while your teeth dodge slippery, bitter seeds. But boy, is it worth it.

I still like eating muscadines straight out of hand. No muss. No fuss. Just a cup for spitting seeds in. They also hold up well to cooking and lend their sweetness to this month’s reader submitted recipes.

– Jennifer Kornegay


Cook of the Month

SueWiley

Sue Wiley, Joe Wheeler EMC

Sue Wiley and her husband Tom love muscadines. They’ve grown two rows of muscadine vines they started as a hobby into a 220-vine, you-pick operation. Tom enjoys the growing process. “And my pleasure comes from eating them, especially the black varieties, and visiting with our many repeat customers,” Sue said. She started making basic muscadine jellies, but Tom encouraged her to make some that included the hull, so she did, and this version quickly became his favorite. “He really likes the texture,” she said. “It just adds something extra.”

Muscadine Hull Jelly

  • 5 pounds muscadines (black or bronze)
  • 6 cups sugar
  • Water
  • 1 box Sure Jell

Prepare jars and flats before starting jelly. Keep both in hot water. Wash muscadines. Cut muscadines in half and remove hulls. Cut up hulls. Place hulls in a pan and just cover with water. Cook on medium heat until tender, about 10 minutes. If water gets low, add more. When tender, remove from heat and set aside. Place pulp in pan and cover with water. Cook about 15 minutes on medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and press through sieve to remove seeds. Mix hull mixture and seedless pulp mixture together. You will need 6 cups of this.

Place in large pan and add Sure Jell. Mix well and bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Add sugar, mix well and return to a rolling boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off foam. Pour into hot jars to ¼ inch from the top. Wipe jar top and cover tightly with lid. Place in water bath for 10 minutes. Remove jars and place on towel-covered counter to cool. When cool, press on top of lid to check if it’s sealed. If it’s sealed, it won’t spring back. Refrigerate any unsealed jars. Yield 5-6 pints, or 10-12 half-pints.

 


Muscadine Juice

  • 4 cups freshly washed muscadines
  • 2 cups sugar

Place in bottom of a sterilized hot gallon jug. Pour into it a gallon of rapidly boiling water. Seal with hot sterilized lids. Let set 4-6 weeks before using.

Cook’s note: Sugar can be reduced to 1 cup.

Barbara Woodard, Joe Wheeler EMC


Muscadine Cobbler

(from the alabamaliving.coop archives)

Filling:

  • 2 1/2 pounds muscadines
  • ¹⁄4 cup plain flour
  • 11/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Cobbler:

  • Basic pastry dough for 2-crust pie, unbaked
  • 1 quart prepared muscadine pie filling
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

To prepare filling, wash muscadines and squeeze pulp from hulls, reserving hulls for later use. Heat pulp with juice over low heat until seeds begin to separate (about 45 minutes). Press pulp through a colander to remove seeds; save the pulp and juice and discard seeds. Combine pulp and juice with reserved muscadine hulls and cook over low heat, covered, until hulls are tender, 30-40 minutes. Add flour and 11/2 cups sugar (more or less, depending on sweetness of muscadine). Cook until pie filling consistency is reached. Add fresh lemon juice. Preheat oven to 400. Roll out 1/2 pastry dough to 1/8-inch thickness and cut into strips. Arrange in lattice pattern on top. Sprinkle with sugar and bake 10 minutes at 400. Reduce heat to 350 and bake 25-30 minutes longer. Serve hot. Delicious right out of the dish and also with homemade vanilla ice cream.

Note: Muscadine pie filling freezes well. When using frozen filling, add lemon juice for freshness or sugar for sweetness.

Ashley Parkman Smith, Tallapoosa River EC


Muscadine Syrup

(from the alabamaliving.coop archives)

  • 21/2 pounds muscadines (about)
  • 13/4 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Wash and crush muscadines. Cook over low heat 10 to 20 minutes. Put muscadines through a sieve. Discard hulls and seed. Measure 11/2 cups muscadine puree in a sauce pan. Add sugar, corn syrup and lemon juice. Bring to a full boil for about two minutes. Remove from heat. Skim off foam with a spoon and pour quickly into sterilized jars. Leave 1/4-inch head space. Cover with lids and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Yields about 11/2 pints.

Annette Lackey, Coosa Valley EC


Muscadine Compote

  • 21/2 cups muscadines
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped shallots
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

Take 1/2 cup of the grapes and cut them in half. Remove the seeds with the point of your knife. Set aside. Put the remaining 2 cups of the grapes in a saucepan with 1/4 cup of water and cook over medium-high heat until the grapes break down. Use a potato masher or wooden spoon to mash all the grapes in the pot. Pour the contents of the pot through a fine strainer over a bowl, pushing on the grapes to get all the juice. Discard the seeds and skins. Put the juice back in the saucepan with the halved grapes, the balsamic, the shallots, the rosemary, the salt and the sugar and bring to a boil. Cook until the compote is reduced and thickened, about 5 minutes.

Jennifer Kornegay, recipe editor


Send us your recipes!

Recipe Themes and Deadlines:

Nov. Biscuits Sept. 8

Dec. Christmas Cookies Oct. 8

Jan. Comfort Food Nov. 8


Good & Good For You

  • There are multiple varieties of muscadines (including the popular scuppernong).
  • They come in both red and gold.
  • They are thicker-skinned and more bulbous than other grapes.
  • Muscadines have 20 pairs of chromosomes while all other grape varieties have 19. This extra pair is why muscadines boast a higher antioxidant content than any other grape.
  • They also have far more resveratrol, a component believed to possess some potent cancer-fighting properties.
  • Muscadines are a great source of the trace mineral manganese and have more dietary fiber than oat bran.

The power of flour

SPROUTS 2PG

Story by Allison Griffin, Photos by Michael Cornelison

To Your Health Sprouted Flour remains committed to rural Alabama

The trucks rolling out of To Your Health Sprouted Flour’s production site, located in rural Bullock County, could be carrying the company’s sprouted grains and flours to a nearby retailer – perhaps a farmer’s market just off U.S. 231, or a grocer up the road in east Montgomery.

Or the trailers full of organic products could be headed for more exotic locales: The company exports bulk orders to Canada, Mexico, Australia and England. It just recently picked up New Zealand. On one recent July day, workers were preparing a shipment for Denmark. They just shipped an order to Mongolia.

All this from the company’s home near Fitzpatrick, population 80. Owner and founder Peggy Sutton was born and raised in Bullock County, and her heart is there.

And there it will remain: Her company just opened its third building, which will allow its production to increase from 50,000 pounds of sprouted flours per week to 120,000 pounds per week. It will have the capacity to grow into about 250,000 pounds a week.

And it all grew from Sutton’s home kitchen, with some Mason jars and an idea to find a healthy way to return to a simple, traditional preparation of food.

A healthy alternative

Peggy Sutton, on the porch of her barn near Fitzpatrick, loves coming up with new products.
Peggy Sutton, on the porch of her barn near Fitzpatrick, loves coming up with new products.

Around 2004, Sutton started researching more healthful methods of cooking and baking, and uncovered the time-honored tradition of sprouting grains to maximize nutritional benefits and improve digestion of food.

Sprouted grains are made from whole grains and seeds, which have a natural barrier to protect the nutrients. The sprouting process turns a dormant seed into a living plant.

“All those nutrients that were dormant inside the seed, when we break the barrier down in the soaking process, it breaks that down and allows all those nutrients to start multiplying,” Sutton says.

The nutrition is much higher in the sprouted versions of everything, she says, noting that some studies have found that the levels of vitamin C can go up as much as 700 percent, and beta carotene and B vitamins are actually produced in the sprouting process.

Another benefit to sprouting, she says, is that a portion of the starch is broken down into simple sugars, so it burns easier as energy.

Intrigued with her research, Sutton took some Mason jars, sprouted some grains, dried them, milled them into flour and made bread. She was blown away by the taste; she says sprouting brings out a grain’s natural flavors and takes away its bitterness. Compared to regular bread in stores, even bakery-fresh bread, she says the sprouted flour bread’s taste “is just phenomenal.”

An idea is sprouted

BARN (MICHAEL)

Sutton started sharing her goods baked with sprouted flours with friends and family, who clamored for more. She put out samples at farmers markets, and thanks to her marketing background, a down-home demeanor and some delicious products, people took notice.

Business for the baked goods was brisk, but soon home bakers and small bakeries wanted to buy her sprouted flours. By 2009, she transitioned out of baked goods and into the flours, which was less labor-intensive.

Then the big guys came calling. Whole Foods wanted to buy her sprouted flour by the pallet, which is 2,000 pounds. “That’s when I said to (her husband) Jeff, ‘Honey, you know my little hobby could become a business, if you’ll help me with it.’”

Jeff supported his wife’s vision and came on board with the new company. The growth has been rapid ever since. She quickly outgrew her kitchen and took over Jeff’s new barn (he didn’t even get to use it for the first three years after he built it, Sutton says). After opening in 2010, the company opened a second building in 2013. Now the newest building, with an additional 30,000 square feet, has just opened; Jeff was in charge of the construction project and continues to be in charge of bulk sales.

Thinking back on the days of Mason jars and sprouting in the barn, she couldn’t have imagined her future success. She was simply thrilled to have found a vocation that paired her love of healthy food and passion for baking with providing a product that her customers have come to love.

Even now, she’s on the job, every day.

“I tell people, this is God’s plan,” she says. “We’re just trying to be good stewards of it. My vision, I just wanted everybody to have an opportunity to bake with sprouted flour, because I was just blown away when I discovered it. God has seen a way to make it happen.”

Making an investment

To Your Health, which is served by Dixie Electric Cooperative, is deeply invested in rural central Alabama. Thirty-two of the company’s 35 employees live in the county, which creates a large economic impact. Within the next two years, thanks to the new building, she hopes to create another 15 to 20 jobs.

TO-YOUR-HEALTH-SIGN

“The best place for my business would be in the grain belt, for transportation reasons and easy access to the grains,” Sutton says. “But growing this business, right here in Bullock County, Alabama, has not been a hindrance whatsoever. And we’re thankful for that.”

Sutton would like to see other agricultural opportunities sprout and flourish in rural Alabama. She thinks the state, and the market, is ripe for an organic farming cooperative, and that the younger generation, which seems to be taking an interest in where their food comes from, could sustain it.

She has a bit of a selfish motive; she would like purchase her grains from farms in the Southeast, and of course in Alabama. Most of her grains must come from the Midwest, the Northwest and Canada.

The cooperative model, upon which rural electric cooperatives are based, would work well, she thinks. She envisions a young farmer who has the drive and the skill to farm organically; a cooperative could help with irrigation, fencing, shared equipment, etc. To Your Health would buy everything he can pull off the field at market price. Sutton would save money on the shipping costs of the grains, but would also be able say that she “buys local.”

For now, Sutton continues to sprout in her kitchens and loves coming up with new products. Now, the company is manufacturing granola, which she used to make when she was still baking. And To Your Health is supplying the key ingredients in the new Kashi Organic Promise Sprouted Grains Cereal, and Sutton is even featured on the box.

Asked if she could have imagined her future success when she was sprouting in her home kitchen, Sutton laughs, “No! I was excited to put my samples out at farmer’s markets. I was like, ‘Y’all have to try this!’ I thought I was on top of the world.

“But with running a business, it’s not all fun and games. But it gives me a purpose, and what a nice one it is. We’re providing a good healthy product, and I’m able to employ good folks in Bullock County who need to work. It’s still a win-win situation.”

‘Fightin’ Joe’ Wheeler

POND SPRINGS FRONT

‘Fightin’ Joe’ Wheeler home to celebrate general’s 180th birthday

Story and photos by David Haynes

Civil War cannon firing and mounted cavalry drills by re-enactors will be among the featured activities when the Alabama plantation home of General Joe Wheeler, known as Pond Spring, hosts a celebration of the general’s 180th birthday on Sept. 10.

Located on Alabama Highway 20, 17 miles west of Decatur, the house and grounds are open to the public five days each week. They are owned and maintained by the Alabama Historical Commission, and the site’s power is delivered by Joe Wheeler EMC.

Site Director Kara Long said visitors to the annual celebration, which begins at 10 a.m., will see Civil War re-enactors firing a cannon, demonstrations of cavalry drills by re-enactors on horseback, a pit-fire cooking demonstration, handmade quilts and a beekeeping seminar. And there will be birthday cake, made using the general’s favorite recipe (while it lasts). Barbecue will be available for lunch, and at 1 p.m. a country music band will perform.

Long said the annual birthday celebration is one of three major events hosted at Pond Spring each year. The home is also decorated in the period style for the Christmas season and in March hosts the Annie Wheeler Plant Sale, named for the general’s daughter.

JOE WHEELER

Joseph Wheeler was born near Augusta, Ga., on Sept. 10, 1836 and was a military man for most of his nearly 70 years. An 1859 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, the diminutive Wheeler was given the nickname “Fightin’ Joe” early in his military career, following a skirmish with Indians in New Mexico. The name stuck.

During the Civil War, Wheeler rose to the rank of lieutenant general in the Confederate Army, commanding the cavalry for Gen. Braxton Bragg’s Army of Mississippi. His Civil War resumé was impressive, fighting in more than 500 skirmishes and 127 battles. He was wounded more than once and had 16 horses shot from under him during the war.

Wheeler, for whom Wheeler Lake, Wheeler Dam and Wheeler National Wildlife Preserve are all named, moved to Alabama following the Civil War, where he married the widow Daniella Jones Sherrod in 1866. He and Daniella raised their six children at Pond Spring, which was Daniella’s property from her first marriage. He practiced law in nearby Courtland during the 1870s before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served almost 20 years.

Wheeler re-entered military service as commander of the 5th Corps Cavalry in 1889 during the Spanish-American War and mustered out of the U.S. Army as a brigadier general in 1900. Theodore Roosevelt’s “Rough Riders” were under Wheeler’s command during the pivotal battle at San Juan Hill, Cuba.

The two-time general died of pneumonia while visiting his sister in New York in 1906 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. He is one of only two former generals of the Confederacy to be interred in Arlington, and his obelisk monument there is one of the cemetery’s tallest.

Today’s Pond Spring consists of 50 acres of land, 12 historic buildings surrounded by formal boxwood gardens and three family cemeteries. Though Wheeler is buried nearly 1,000 miles to the north outside Washington, D.C., an identical obelisk to the one at Arlington towers over all others in the Wheeler family plot.

The oldest building on the property is a “dog trot” log cabin built in 1818 by the original owners of the 1760-acre plantation, the John P. Hickman family. The next owners, the Sherrod family, expanded one of two log houses into a clapboard-covered, Federal-style home, which still stands today as well.

After Wheeler and Daniella married they built another house, which adjoins the earlier Sherrod home via a covered walkway, from 1868 and 1874. Wheeler’s daughter Annie, who served as a volunteer nurse in three wars, continued to live in this house until her death in 1955.

Open for tours since 2012

PEOPLE LOOKING AT UNIFORMS

The house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977, and in 1993 General Wheeler’s descendants donated the home and all its contents to the Alabama Historical Commission.

Renovation by the Historical Commission of the house and property took more than a decade to complete (2000-2012) and the home opened for tours in 2012. Tours are scheduled hourly Wednesday through Sunday beginning 9 a.m. for a fee of $8. Souvenirs are available at a small gift shop on the grounds as well.

Site Director Long explained that the Wheeler family’s gift of the home and contents ensured that General Wheeler’s artifacts will be preserved for future generations, adding that the site is as much a museum as it is a historic home.

Long’s tours allow a visitor to step backward in time to late 19th century Alabama as she describes and explains what life was like for the residents of Pond Spring. Her encyclopedic knowledge of every detail of the home, grounds and Wheeler family is evident on the tours as details of each artifact found in the house, its history and how the family might have used it seem always on the tip of her tongue.¢

Coach’s legacies

Beloved college coaches reflect on their legacies

By Emmett Burnett

In life and football, great teams, skilled competitors, and excellent coaches are never coincidental.

Nor is it happenstance the state of Alabama has an abundance of winners – leaders of college football, developers of athletes, directors of champions. Here are six college football coaches, where they are now: some retired and some still active in the game. Collectively, they’ve made impressions on thousands.


COACH STALLINGS

Gene Stallings, University of Alabama

“Can you call back in about two hours?” says Gene Stallings, whose cell phone voice sounds uncannily like Coach Paul Bear Bryant. “I’m right in the middle of baling hay.” Another day on the ranch in Paris, Texas.

“After retiring, Ruth Ann and I moved to Texas,” noted the former University of Alabama head coach, whose 1992, 13-0 season ended with a Sugar Bowl win over the University of Miami. “I have a big garden, about three thousand onions and 54 tomato plants, and we raise cattle, lots of cattle.”

A Texas native, Coach Stallings still has Crimson allegiance. “I watch most Alabama games on TV because it’s a 10-hour drive to Tuscaloosa from here,” he says. “But I still speak there on occasion.” Actually he speaks everywhere on occasion. Coach Stallings is a much sought-after lecturer.

The Stallingses devote time to charities including the Down Syndrome Association, Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, and groups working to feed and provide medical needs to poor and underprivileged.

His coaching record at Alabama, Texas A&M, and pro football teams is epic, but on this interview, not epic enough to compete with hay baling season. “Thanks for calling,” the 81-year-old rancher says, before returning to work. “And thank you for remembering us old coaches!”


COACH BLAKENEY

Larry Blakeney, Troy University

With 24 seasons at the helm, Troy University’s Larry Blakeney is one of football’s longest serving coaches at one college. Even after retirement, he can be seen at Veterans Memorial Stadium, enjoying the contest, gazing on Larry Blakeney Field, named in his honor. But he is moving on – to Auburn, and closer to family.

“Troy has been a great home for me and Janice,” says the coach and former Auburn quarterback. “We have made many friends and have seen athletes continue growing after leaving the playing field. I had the opportunity to coach some wonderful young men.”

At this writing, Blakeney’s move is not just a job, it’s an adventure. “Most of our stuff is in Auburn, but we have a bare-minimum Troy house,” he says. “And even after the move, we will always be close to Troy.” As for the town he leaves behind, he adds, “It is a great community offering excellent football. I am looking forward to watching Troy University’s continued success.”


COACH SLATER

Willie Slater, Tuskegee University

Willie Slater was named Tuskegee University’s head football coach in January 2006. He starts season 11 with a 92-24 record. Almost every year, the Slater trophy case requires extra storage space. But he quickly diverts attention from personal achievements to what he says is the greater reward, his team.

“I enjoy being around these young men,” Slater says. “Too many times lately, college football players and students in general are labeled negatively. But I beg to differ.”

He feels that young people in today’s academia want to be led and learn to lead. “They want to do the right thing,” Slater says. “And I think they see wrongs that are taking place, are fed up with it, and want to make changes for the good.”

When not coaching or recruiting, and that’s not often, Slater enjoys attending and working with Bible Fellowship Apostolic Church in Montgomery. The resident of Shorter is an avid golfer, but presently, his golf clubs are not in full swing. Football season is.

“Unfortunately, right now I can’t play golf as much as I want to.” Putting greens can wait. The gridiron can’t.


COACH BURGESS

Bill Burgess, Jacksonville State University

With the 1985-1996 years at Jacksonville State University, Bill Burgess’ career includes three Gulf South Conference Coach of the Year titles and a 1992 NCAA Division 2, National Coach of the Year recognition. In 1988 the Gamecocks won the Gulf South Conference with a 7-1 record. The next year, the team won the GSC with an 8-0 record, finishing the NCAA as runner- up.

Burgess-Snow Field at JSU Stadium is named for him. “It should have been called ‘Burgess-Snow – And a Whole Bunch of Assistant Coaches Who Made All of This Happen Field,” laughs Burgess. “But they just don’t seem to do that.”

Though a man of many honors, JSU’s coach maintains his self-effacing humor, “I’m retired, I work on the side for Hibbett Sports, but I don’t do much – I’m sure they’ll tell you that.”

He is a devout JSU football follower – from a distance. Referencing his namesake football field, he says, “I don’t go over there much. Mainly, I attend home games, as a fan. It would be butting in. As a coach, my time has come and gone.”

As for the sport, he offers sage advice: “No matter the techniques, training tools, or programs, football will always be a fundamental game. Make the blocks on offense, tackle on defense. It never changes.”


COACH DYE

Pat Dye, Auburn University

The life and times of Pat Dye include helping the Tide Roll, War Eagles soar, and Japanese maple trees grow. He maintains an Auburn office, has written books, hosts a radio show and is a public speaker in demand – and no wonder.

Dye coached under Alabama’s Paul Bryant, was head coach of Auburn University, and a major driver for sharing the Iron Bowl on Auburn’s turf. Today he brings Alabama, Auburn, and other fans together through hunting.

“I am more of their social director,” smiles the coach, referring to his hunting preserve and lodge, Crooked Oaks, in Notasulga. “At the hunt’s end, we will sit around, and I tell stories – but things I want them to hear,” he laughs. “I don’t give anyone a chance to ask questions.”

He also raises and sells Japanese maple trees from nearby Quail Hollow Gardens. “I love to plant and watch the maples grow,” he says. “Trees are a lot like people. Both need attention, especially when young. And to survive, both must have a little sunshine and endure a little rain.”

When asked, “When did you leave Auburn,” Dye pauses, then replies, “I have never left Auburn. I may no longer live there, or actively coach there, but I will always be there.”


COACH WALLACE

Bobby Wallace, University of North Alabama

Bobby Wallace retired from football in 2010, but not for long. He returned to the University of North Alabama in 2012, and he’s loving it.

“One day I will retire,” says the Lions’ head coach. “Sharon and I have a place on Lake Martin, grandkids, and sure, I’m looking forward to retiring, one day.” But not today.

Wallace originally coached UNA from 1988-97, racking up three straight NCAA Division II National Championships and an 82-36-1 record. He left in 1997, coaching Temple University and then the University of West Alabama.

But the Lions of Florence called him home. “Of course, I love football,” he says, from the UNA campus. “But it is so much more – the camaraderie with other coaches and players, the competitiveness, all of us working to achieve a common goal. That’s college football to me.”

He adds, “I know I can’t do this forever, but as long as I am in good health, and we are successful, I will continue, and enjoy what I do.”

As fans, we will continue enjoying what our state’s coaches do, too.

Toomer’s tradition

A tradition continues: Rolling returns to Toomer’s Corner this fall

TOOMER'S 3425
Aubie anticipates the first rolling of Toomer’s Corner in 2016. Photo by Mark Stephenson

By Lindsay Miles Penny

This fall, one of Auburn’s most treasured traditions returns as fans will once again flock to the intersection of College and Magnolia to roll the famous Toomer’s Oaks.

Just over three years have passed since the iconic Toomer’s Oaks’ final rolling in April 2013, when thousands of members of the Auburn family said goodbye to the original oaks. Pounds of toilet paper lined the streets, reaching far into campus, as the trees turned solid white in a matter of minutes.

The two 80-year-old trees were poisoned following the 2010 Iron Bowl, and though the iconic oaks did not survive, the tradition at Toomer’s Corner carries on.

TOOMER'S CORNER 1900
Toomer’s Corner as it appeared around 1900. Photo courtesy of Auburn University

Although the loss of the original oaks was a devastating blow to the Auburn family, fans and alumni have much to look forward to as the university completes its multi-year redevelopment project on Toomer’s Corner.

“Since the removal of the original Auburn Oaks, there have been significant changes to Toomer’s Corner and Samford Park, beginning with the remediation and redevelopment of the corner in 2014,” says Ben Burmester, design project manager in Auburn University’s Office of University Architect. This opened up the university’s corner of the intersection and included a circular seat wall behind the gates, as well as the location for the new oaks that were planted in February 2015.

Almost four years to the day that Auburn announced the lethal poisoning of the historic oaks, two 35-foot-tall replacement trees were rooted. The trees were hauled in from a nursery in Ehrhardt, S.C., on Valentine’s Day 2015.

The tainted soil from the previous trees was replaced with a sand-based soil similar to the new oaks’ natural coastal plains habitat. The new trees were also provided a larger root-growing area than the original oaks.

The Magnolia Avenue tree did not effectively leaf out, and was replaced by a tree from a Florida nursery, which had been dug 16 to 18 months prior to planting at Auburn, allowing the tree to recover from the initial shock of transplant.

Samford Park, which leads from Toomer’s Corner to Samford Hall, has undergone an extensive facelift, including the planting of the new Auburn Oaks, the removal of overgrown landscaping that obscured walking paths and a decorative brick arcing walkway. The redevelopment provides more green space for recreation, gatherings and photo opportunities. Photo by Mark Stephenson
Samford Park, which leads from Toomer’s Corner to Samford Hall, has undergone an extensive facelift, including the planting of the new Auburn Oaks, the removal of overgrown landscaping that obscured walking paths and a decorative brick arcing walkway. The redevelopment provides more green space for recreation, gatherings and photo opportunities. Photo by Mark Stephenson

The corner underwent a major facelift earlier this year when a new walkway was developed and 10 descendant oaks of the original Toomer’s trees were planted, bringing the multiyear project to a close.

“Descendant trees from the original Auburn Oaks were planted in March 2016, completing Phase II of the Samford Park redevelopment, and is the last active project currently in place for Samford Park,” Burmester says.

The descendant oaks, approximately 15 years old and 15 feet tall, were grown from acorns by the School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences starting in 2001, in an attempt to preserve the Auburn Oaks’ legacy.

“The descendant trees were growing offsite, and in the last couple of years were prepped for moving operation,” said Burmester.

The young oaks adorn both sides of the new walkway from the heart of Toomer’s Corner toward Samford Hall, which will one day provide a canopy framing the view from the corner to campus.

Although the origin of rolling Toomer’s Corner is debatable, the tradition is said to have begun at Toomer’s Drugs, a small business adjacent to the corner, and an Auburn landmark for more than 130 years.

During away games, when drugstore employees would receive news of a win from the only telegraph in the city, they would throw the ticker tape from the telegraph onto the power lines outside the store. As the years passed and celebrations ensued, toilet paper began to be thrown and the oak trees became the target.

“The tradition of rolling Toomer’s Corner means so much to our university because it symbolizes our collective love of Auburn,” said Gretchen VanValkenburg, vice president for Alumni Affairs at Auburn University. “It is absolutely amazing to watch multiple generations of the Auburn Family participate in such a cherished tradition. I look forward to joining thousands of Auburn alumni and friends this season to continue this time-honored tradition.”

This aerial photo was taken during the “final roll” on A-Day in 2013. Photo courtesy of Auburn University. Aleem Ahmed
This aerial photo was taken during the “final roll” on A-Day in 2013. Photo courtesy of Auburn University. Aleem Ahmed