May 17, 2017

First garden being planted at Babcock Ranch

By: Vicki Parsons - IT

Submitted by Caffrey & Associates 4:05 a.m. ET May 13, 2017

babcock ranch neighborhood garden

Babcock Ranch has started planting its first neighborhood garden. The garden is centrally located in one of the Lake Timber neighborhood’s green spaces.(Photo: Submitted)

BABCOCK RANCH — As construction of buildings in the Downtown District and new residences in the Lake Timber neighborhood continues to progress, Babcock Ranch has started planting its first neighborhood garden. The new solar powered town being built by Kitson & Partners in Charlotte County is off State Road 31 just north of the Lee County Civic Center.

The 100-by-50-foot garden is centrally located in one of Lake Timber’s green spaces and within an easy walk or bike ride from every residence in the neighborhood. A white picket fence surrounds the garden area that includes raised planting beds, raised tubs, and at-grade beds. Water, a compost machine, a shed for shared gardening tool storage, and a bike rack have all been incorporated at the site. Initially, the herbs and produce grown in the garden will be served at Babcock’s Table & Tap restaurant and sold at Slater’s Goods & Provisions that will open late this summer. Ultimately, the garden will be planted, worked, and harvested by the residents of Lake Timber. Gardens will also be included in each of the town’s future neighborhoods.

“Crops are currently being planted for Table & Tap and the garden will be ready for our first residents as they move in,” said Kitson & Partners’ Land Planner Amanda Staerker. “When the residents are interested in running their own beds, space will be turned over. Late this summer, we’ll be making produce from the garden available to customers at the Slater’s Goods & Provisions market that is under construction downtown. By growing for Table & Tap and Slater’s, our intention is to show the potential of the garden and encourage residents to use it.Over time, the commercial use will wean from Lake Timber and move to our next neighborhood garden. Once all the neighborhoods have been set up, Table and Tap and Slater’s might be supplied by a five-acre community garden that will be a collaborative effort of all the neighborhoods. That garden might provide larger vegetable species and larger quantities.”

Kitson and its town planners designed Babcock Ranch in a way that fosters social interaction and an eco-sensitive, healthy lifestyle. The neighborhood gardens offer a organically grown farm-to-table experience, whether in Table & Tap, Slater’s, or a home. Each garden will be maintained by the residents of each neighborhood. Once a crop has been harvested and is ready to be replaced, the residents can choose what comes next, prepare the soil, and plant. Initially, the beds are all first come first served, but all interested residents are expected to share. The approach to the garden epitomizes Babcock’s “front porch culture” that defines the spirit of the town. Residents of each neighborhood can choose to develop a more formalized gardening organization as they wish. For now, the garden will provide Table & Tap with a fresh supply of Malabar spinach, summer squash, and herbs such as rosemary, thyme, basil, and opal basil.

“The garden fits into Table & Tap’s motif perfectly,” said Babcock’s Food and Beverage Director Matt Seiler. “Being able to grow our own produce is our long-term goal. Not having to outsource our own fresh ingredients and growing on property is what our farm-to-table concept is all about. The garden will help generate an immediate supply of herbs and vegetables we can use in almost all of our menu selections. Once Slater’s opens, we’ll be able to sell our vegetables, herbs, and fruits directly to our guests.  It will help us keep the cost low for our customers and provide them with a fresh supply of organic produce. We will be able to guarantee ultimate freshness and that no pesticides were used. Everything we grow will be seasonal and will change as weather conditions dictate what we can cultivate. Our staff members will be highly educated on our growing process and will be able to talk with our guests about where the produce came from. Having that great story to share with our customers at the table will be another enjoyable aspect of the dining experience.”

“As far as I know, this is the first community vegetable garden in a planned community in Southwest Florida,” said Staerker. “Many of us do not have a connection with our food source and rely heavily on the food industry.  Having an understanding and an appreciation for the life of your food is a very important component to healthy living. So are your neighbors. We hope the neighborhood garden will foster a sense of camaraderie.”

In addition to the garden, Lake Timber’s parks and streetscapes provide an immediate connection with nature. Completed and soon to be completed homes offer Babcock’s Craftsman, Farmhouse, Coastal Gulf Vernacular, Spanish, and Colonial/West Indies architectural styles derived from the styles found in pre-World War II neighborhoods in Fort Myers, Naples, and throughout Southwest Florida. The homes and their inviting front porches are positioned close to the street to encourage the social interaction and personal connections that are central to life at Babcock.

Construction of Lake Timber’s Lake House recreation center is on schedule for completion at the end of this month. Inspired by the historic Cypress Lodge on the neighboring Babcock Ranch Preserve, the 2,400-square foot Lake House will feature soaring ceilings with exposed 24-by-24-inch beams and a two-sided stone fireplace that will dominate the west end of the building overlooking the lake. The extensive use of exposed wood and natural materials will create a neighborhood center ideally suited to Lake Timber’s natural setting. Wide open interior spaces will offer gathering places for neighbors to share times together and for neighborhood events. The interior will feature a family room-style seating area around the fireplace, a game room and kitchenette. Outside will feature a barbecue area with a grill, a lakefront deck, pool, bathhouse, playground and lawn.

The Discovery Center at Woodlea Hall, Table & Tap, and Curry Creek Outfitters are open seven days a week at Founder’s Square in downtown Babcock Ranch. Online at