September 2017 Hickory Farms Newsletter
- Editor, Don Seymour (Farm House Ln)
The HFCA Board of Directors Needs You!
The annual election of HFCA Board Members and Officers is now underway. HFCA Common Area Coordinator, Melissa Stark, is the 2017 Nominations Committee Chairperson.
If you would like to serve on the board or nominate a neighbor to serve, please con-tact Melissa Stark at email@example.com.
Candidate names on the nominations slate will be voted on at our October 10th HFCA annual meeting. Nominations will also be accepted from the floor at our annual meeting.
To see who is currently on the Board of Directors, please see our website at hickoryfarms.org and/or this newsletter.
Dozens of volunteers have stepped forward over the past 40 years to make Hickory Farms the wonderful place it is. Please consider volunteering this year as a member of the Board of Directors in order to keep our unbroken chain of volunteer service going into decade number five!
HFCA Annual Meeting
DATE: Tuesday, October 10, 2017
LOCATION: Green Acres (in cafeteria), 4401 Sideburn Rd., Fairfax, VA 22030
TIME: 8 - 10 PM
Community Yard Sale September 9th
Pete Scala is coordinating our annual Community Yard Sale, which is Saturday, September 9 from 8:00 AM - 12:00 PM. A nominal charge is required to participate (no more than $10 — the more who participate, the lower the cost!).
Contact Pete Scala at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up.
Yard Sale Keys to Success
Our community yard sale will be Saturday, September 9, from 8 AM to 12 NOON. The fee to participate will be about (no more than) $10. Contact Pete Scala at (703) 764-0730 or email@example.com to sign up. Here are some of the keys to a successful yard sale:
- Select worthwhile items to sell. You may have some true junk, but your chances of selling it, or anything else, go up if you get people to look at your stuff by having good things out there.
- Prepare your merchandise ahead of time. Wash and press clothes, dust and polish furniture, paint and oil old bikes, make sure electronics work and have demo CDs, tapes, etc.
- Buy some change from the bank ahead of time. You'll need bills and coins; how much depends on how many things you have for sale, and what prices you pick (if your stuff is all 5.99, 11.59, etc., you better have a lot of pennies).
- Put prices on your sale items the night before; use large tags. People will try to bargain you down, so take that into account when you pick your asking price.
- Put out your sale items in an attractive display. Run extension cords to power electrical appliances, so you can demonstrate they work.
Common Area Clean-Up Underway
- Melissa Stark, HFCA Common Areas Chair
On July 18, J&J Landscape Management Inc. and JR Landworks kicked off the start of our phased invasive clean-up of our 21 acres of commons grounds. The crew came equipped with a forestry grinder to clear and mulch the entire bamboo forest, as well as, a bush hog and 3 men with trimmers hitting the remainder of the invasive plants/vines in 3 surrounding islands. The result is a more open and airy island, free of the vines and bamboo that had choked a majority of the trees and native vegetation in that area.
Residents stopped by to view the undertaking throughout the day. They stood in awe, as the machinery swiftly cleared the area.
The responses received regarding the clean-up were positive and many said, “This is long overdue”. Also many wanted to know, “what are the next steps?”
Additional work is needed to complete restoration of the Upper Common area. There are some large dead/dying trees and metal poles/fences to remove. Also remov-ing the bamboo stalks is only the first step in completely eradicating the bamboo.
After much study of online university research (University of Maryland and University of Florida), input from the VA Soil & Water division, VA Department of Forestry, J&J Landscape Management Inc., JR Landworks and multiple HFCA Board discussions, we will be following the recommendations outlined by the University of Maryland to completely eradicate the bamboo from the Upper Commons. These are the next steps in the process:
- Allowing the bamboo to regrow to approx. 3 ft. and then treat it with the herbicide, glyphosate (Round Up) in fall. Over the winter the glyphosate absorbed through the leaves will kill the bamboo and its rhizomes. Please note: communication will go out in the newsletter, listserv and signs will be posted in the area prior to spraying the area.
- Once the stalks turn brown they will remain until spring when they will be mowed down to just above ground level. This will maximize the effects of the herbicide killing the rhizomes.
- Targeted spraying and vigorous mowing will be repeated until the bamboo no longer grows in the area. This process can take anywhere from 1 year to 2 years to completely eradicate the bamboo.
Once the bamboo has been eradicated, we move to the replanting phase of the Upper Commons. Re-establishing grassy areas and providing more native plants and trees that our native wildlife will benefit from will be the objective. Input from the community is welcomed and will be considered in the replanting process.
For now, you will see the mulched beds left where the bamboo and previous overgrowth used to be. This will provide moisture retention in the ground, so the left over bamboo stalks can disintegrate. Please use caution and if possible, avoid walking in the mulched beds. There still are freshly cut stalks about an inch or two high under the mulch, as well as, freshly cut poison ivy and poison oak.
Our goal is to help restore/maintain the beauty of our common areas and keep it thriving with wildlife. Additional areas of common ground within our Hickory Farms community also need attention. Further information will be provided as plans are developed.
Fairfax Trails & Sidewalks Committee
- Bob Cosgriff (Cotton Farm Rd)
As the Braddock District representative on the Trails and Sidewalks Committee, I want to share some of what I have learned in my first six months on the job.
First of all, Fairfax County is fortunate to have a formal, comprehensive planning process that includes the construction and maintenance of County-owned, non-motorized pathways for use by pedestrians, equestrians, and bicyclists. Most of these facilities are within Fairfax County Park Authority parks, both developed recreational facilities as well as undeveloped stream valley parks.
Perhaps the best-known of such trails is the Gerry Connolly Cross-County Trail (GCCCT), which runs from the Potomac River (within the Great Falls National Park) to the Occoquan River, terminating in the Occoquan Regional Park on Route 123, a total distance of 40.5 miles. The trail consists of paved and unpaved segments, mostly through Park Authority property. The closest places to access this trail are: Thaiss Memorial Park on Pickett Road (just east of Fairfax Circle); Americana Park (Little River Turnpike at the Belt-way); Wakefield Park (on Braddock Road near the Beltway) or Lake Accotink Park in Springfield. I have walked many sections of this trail. In some places, it is hard to believe you are actually in the middle of a county of over 1.1 million people. It is a very beautiful ribbon of natural space that invites exploration. To help you see the extensive network of trails, I am attaching this link to an interactive web site: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/trails/
You can even find our HFCA “black path” depicted on this site! For further information about the GCCCT, see: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/cct/
Since the state is responsible for public sidewalks and roadways throughout the Commonwealth, dedicated bike lanes or designation of routes with painted “sharrows” (showing that bikes and cars share the roadway) falls under VDOT. However, the Fairfax County Department of Transportation coordinates closely with VDOT in proposing bike lane/’sharrow’ striping projects as part of VDOT’s on-going repaving process within the County. The closest current project to Hickory Farms is in along Braeburn Drive, with the road east of Guinea having been done already, and the road west of Guinea to Olley Lane scheduled for completion this fall.
One of the question citizens frequently have about sidewalks is who maintains them. The answer is VDOT. There is a cycle maintenance program that enables the state to repair sidewalks, curbs, and gutters at intervals (15-20 years). Some years ago, Hickory Farms had some sidewalk replacement work done and again more recently another area in the neighborhood was done. However, should a portion of sidewalk become deteriorated enough to create a clear safety hazard, VDOT can be called to investigate and correct the problem. The website to use is: https://my.vdot.virginia.gov
You simply set up a user name (e-mail address) and password, then use the menu to provide information about what and where the problem is. There is an option to be automatically updated on the progress of your work order number. I have recently used this site four times for Braddock District issues outside of Hickory Farms, and can attest that it works.
I will provide some additional information in future newsletters. One of the big issues with which the Trails and Sidewalks committee is currently involved is the proposed multi-use trail that is being planned in connection with the I-66 widening outside the Beltway. This trail will run from Gallows Road to Gainesville and connect to existing trails such as the W&OD Regional Park trail and the Fairfax County Parkway trail, thus providing new connections to expand the already-extensive network of hiking and biking trails in the county. While there is not presently any east-west version of the GCCCT, this route will be perhaps the closest thing to that. Other east-west “trans-county” routes are the W&OD trail and the Braddock Road bike trail, which goes from the Beltway to Centreville. So no matter where you want to walk or ride, there is a route. Check it out on the “Trail Buddy” link provided above. If you have any questions about trails, sidewalks or bikeways within Fairfax County, feel free to contact me by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org), phone (703-764-0720) or stopping by at my home (10003 Cotton Farm Road).
SOCIAL COMMITTEE CHAIR
After an incredible run leading our social committee, Kendra Seymour will be stepping down—and we need to fill her shoes for 2018. If you’re interested, or to learn more, send an email to KendraMSeymour@gmail.com.
PHOTOS OF HICKORY FARMS
Our webmaster is looking for high quality images of the community to be featured on the new website. We're looking for images that show off the beauty and uniqueness of our neighborhood: photos of the local wildlife, the neighborhood during different seasons, our common grounds and trails, historical imagery, and community events. If you have any photos you would like to share please send them to: email@example.com.
New Contact Info
Thanks to our webmaster, Bryan Crabtree, there are new ways to reach the HFCA Board:
If you want to reach the entire HFCA Board of Directors, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To reach Melissa Stark about out common areas, email email@example.com.
For anything ACC related, email Brian Roethlisberger at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And for the newsletter, email me (Don Seymour) at email@example.com.
Birds (and Bears) of Hickory Farms
-Bob Cosgriff (Cotton Farm Rd)
We had a very exciting backyard sighting on 5 July that was a Hickory Farms first, and it was not a bird, but a black bear! Yes, that’s correct, a bear — no doubt the same bear that had been spotted at the end of June/early July in Fairfax Station, on Zion Road south of Robinson, and elsewhere. While bears are rare in Fairfax, they are not entirely uncommon, and this is the time of year they roam down from their usual territories farther to the west. And why not? The suburbs offer a smorgasbord of easy pickings: bird feeders, compost bins, garbage cans, and pet food in the car port! In any case, this bruin did not find anything in our yard and sauntered off to points unknown.
Now back to the birds. We had a third nesting in the box in the lower common grounds that has already produced 10 new birds. This is only the third time we’ve had a third brood (other years were 2002 and 2007). Five eggs hatch about 15 July, and the birds fledged 2-3 August. We also had five House Wren eggs in the box in the small common area on Cotton Farm Road near the creek. However that nest was predated, most likely by a snake since the pole did not have a baffle guard installed. However, the season was a success, with a total of 20 bluebirds fledging.
We are in a slow time for birds, since all species have finished nesting. Some species even begin to migrate south in August. The big influx of shorebirds doesn’t get going until the end of August into September. Then the raptors start moving, followed by ducks, geese, and swans. In general, the southbound migration is more diffuse than the northbound (spring) migration, so you have to be in the places where birds congregate to really see appreciable numbers. Additionally, many birds molt into different non-breeding plumages, making identification a bit harder.
So while it is a slow time for birds, it is a good time to consider steps to turn your yard into a bird-friendly habitat for the winter and next year. There are basically three things you need: food, cover, and water. Food can be store-bought bird seed or natural sources of seeds, nuts and nectar (for hummingbirds and pollinating insects). Such common plants as Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia), coneflowers (Echinacea), Shasta daisies, goldenrod, asters, zinnias, etc. can provide compound seeds attractive to several species, but especially goldfinches. There are a number of tree species that produce small nuts, berries, and fruits that birds love. A useful website listing native plants of this area is http://www.nwf.org/NativePlantFinder/Plants
Water is best provided by a bird bath. Use a small recirculating pump to eliminate mosquito problems, and remember to clean the bath regularly. To keep the birdbath open in the winter, you should use a small heater unit available at most bird stores and hardware stores. Do you have an annoying low spot in your yard that is always mushy and hard to mow? Why not convert it into a rain garden? This will use the moisture to support a variety of plants that will add beauty to your yard, attract birds, and reduce run-off from your yard.
Cover (to escape from predators and for places to raise young) is provided by natural vegetation, everything from tall trees to shrubs to suit-able native ground cover. There should be layers of cover: low, understory, mid-story and canopy, since different birds prefer different heights for feeding and nesting. A small brush pile of yard clippings is always a good bird attractor.
While it can take a few years to get everything growing to provide the desired quantity and diversity of food sources and cover, any first steps should yield results. In addition to birds, other forms of wildlife will move into a naturalized setting, including turtles, bats, and chipmunks. One other thing: do not use insecticides or herbicides, or if you do, use those certified organic and non-toxic. Ordinary chemicals can be harmful to a wide variety of creatures other than the intended target. We’ve found that nature has a way of keeping things in balance in our yard without the need for chemical intervention.
Starting now to create your own backyard habitat will provide enjoyment, as well as enhance the attractiveness of your yard, and it might even cut down on the amount of mowing you have to do!
- Debbi Buchanan
I would like to give a great big thank you to Melissa Stark and family for all their hard work in getting the bamboo forest cleaned up! Melissa spent countless hours contacting landscaping companies for quotes to
clean up the common area and then on the actual day, spent all of it overseeing the workers and got her entire family (children included!) to go in afterwards to pick up the trash that had accumulated over the years even succumbing to poison ivy! She is an incredible asset to our community and I hope the next time you see her on Cotton Farm, you will stop her to say thank you!
- Debbi Buchanan
Do you know why we have a neighborhood watch? Several years ago, a neighborhood child was stopped by a passerby. It scared the family so much that they helped organize our first neighborhood watch. Getting involved only takes a couple of hours a month to keep our families safe! Our longtime residents have been doing the watch and now it’s time for some of our younger families to join in to help keep Hickory Farms a safe place to live!
We are starting a campaign to get 50 new residents/teams on our roster by our annual meeting in October so that we will only need to do our watch once every four months! The 50th person/team will win a special prize (to still be determined!). Won't you please consider joining?
Contact me, Debbi Buchanan, at 703-307-7323 or firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the roster. Many thanks to Tom and Desiree DeMott (our new neighbors on Still Meadow) who joined our distinguished group of volunteers - number 1; and our esteemed president Bruce Bernhardt and his lovely wife, Nancy rejoined - number 2. We just need 48 more to sign up to make our goal of 50 by October! Will you please help?
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