Your guide to going ‘green’ in Bellaire and West U
Focusing on the environment isn’t hard to do in Bellaire and West University this time of year. The temperatures are mild, trees are budding, azaleas and wildflowers are blooming (OK, yes — and the pollen is wafting).
Earth Day on April 22 and the weeks leading up to it are full of outdoor events and special programs emphasizing the three Rs — reduce, reuse, recycle.
Truth is, though, that both for both cities, environmental consciousness about more than springtime plants, parks and recycling — it’s top-of-mind year-round, part of longstanding collaborations involving residents, community groups, resident boards, elected leaders, city professionals and businesses.
Park and greenspace acquisition, development and improvement is steady — bolstered by the vision and generosity within each city. Recycling and sustainability programs are responsive to needs, new technology and trends, and many of them — as with parks — originate with the communities’ residents. There is no shortage of workshops to learn about living sustainably and recycling efficiently and about the nuances of gardening in the area.
This then is our periodic survey of how West U and Bellaire embrace environmental responsibility as a quality of life matter — and frequently have a good time doing so.
Eat your vegetables…
“Let the farm come to you is the motto,” and Evelyn’s Park in Bellaire is the host pickup location for subscribers to weekly food and flower subscriptions to the Community Supported Agriculture Program of the Animal Farm Permaculture Center. Cost is $25 a week for a delivery of fresh seasonal produce; $20 for flowers.
West U entrepreneur Scott Novich is still piloting Pluck — what he describes as “the world’s first truly yard-to-table service of tech-enabled edible gardens,” where his firm will build and plant vegetable, fruit and herb gardens in your Bellaire or West U yard to your specifications and maintain them for you. You just harvest and prepare. Find out more from our feature last November:
…but compost them, if you don’t
Saying unabashedly “the city is committed to promoting sustainable living and reducing waste in the community,” the city of West U is now supporting food recycling by vetting and recommending companies that compost food waste. The two firms passing muster collect food scraps and other organic materials and process them in facilities that West U says it has verified as fully licensed, insured, and meeting all regulations and standards, turning them into reusable organic matter. West U’s goal, as with all recycling, is to keep usable waste out of the landfill. Learn more here:
Not your average parks
To be sure, each city has splendid fairly conventional parks that serve as central gathering and events locations — Bellaire’s Town Square, West University’s Colonial Park.
But there are gems, too.
In West University, Jennie Elizabeth Hughes Park came together in 2018 after a generous resident, Jim Hughes, left the home and 15,000 square-foot lot his mother bought at Sewanee and Pittsburg to the city in his will, along with $200,000 for development. The Friends of West University Parks Fund kicked in another $300,000. Today, the park melts into the neighborhood, a shining example of a pocket greenspace. It has a covered entry designed to look like a front porch, complete with rocking chairs, and a babbling water feature that’s button-activated. There’s a wide greenspace at its center, but everything about the park whispers, “serenity now” — not a place for a rowdy game of touch football.
Russ Pitman Park and the Nature Discovery Center, 7112 Newcastle Dr., allow visitors to step back in time. The park has a playground and picnic tables at its southern end, but otherwise it’s full of towering trees and vegetation that feature distinct areas replicating all the habitats found in Texas, crisscrossed by discreet paths. It’s truly nature’s classroom, a place to turn over logs, pause and listen for the hoot of owls, chatter of squirrels and chirp of insects. The restored 1920s home at the north end houses the nature center, with a pavilion at the rear for outdoor learning or gatherings. Classes and camps are offered for youngsters, and there are grownup offerings, too. With nature’s unpredictability, no two visits to the park are ever the same.
Evelyn’s Park just inside the eastern entrance to the city on Bellaire Boulevard (the site of the old Teas Nursery) is often dubbed the Discovery Green of Bellaire. It features a largely outdoor restaurant, Betsy’s, operating from a replica of the old big yellow house that stood at the location. There’s an events pavilion for rent and community events, a wide lawn, playground with sliding hill, water feature and larger-than-life Alice in Wonderland tea party sculpture. Almost every weekend brings some kind of event or marketplace.
Used Book Sale
5111 Jessamine St.
Ongoing indoor sale during business hours
Outdoor sale 9 a.m.-2 p.m. April 15
Readers can always find a good selection of donated used books for sale in a designated area inside the Bellaire Library, but its large sale of used books is held semi-annually, including one in April. Most hardbacks are $2, paperbacks $1, with special selections and collections priced separately.
If you’re looking to dispose of used books in good condition, donations are always welcome, with proceeds from all sales going to the Friends of the Bellaire Library for its support programs.
Earth Day/Picnic in the Park
4400 Bellaire Blvd.
April 22, all day
Celebrate Earth Day and the park’s sixth anniversary with your own or purchased picnic, music, fitnesses classes, and children’s activities.
Nature Discovery Center
7112 Newcastle Dr.
10 a.m.-2 p.m. April 29
www.nature discovery center.org
Classes, games, live animals, art projects, food and more at this annual family-friendly celebration of the season in Russ Pitman Park.
Bellaire Citywide Garage Sale
April 29, all day
The city waives its usual garage sale permit fee on this date only in this annual event to promote the “reuse” aspect of recycling, and publishes a directory of sales on the city website. Participants should email firstname.lastname@example.org to add their location to the list.
Paper Shredding, E-Waste, Mattress Collection, and Household Metal Recycling Event
West U Public Works
3826 Milton St.
May 6, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Available only to residents, the city sponsors this periodic collection of hard-to-recycle items. Paper is limited to five boxes per household.