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Love of nature

Couple finds niche in outdoor activities at Brooksby

Created date

July 26th, 2011

Barbara Hooper received the key to the garden shed and access to her garden patch the same day she and her husband, Bill, received the keys to their Brooksby apartment home. I said I wasn t moving unless I got a garden, Barbara recalls. Those who move to Brooksby have the option to reserve a ten-square-foot garden patch in which to toil as they see fit, using tools from the community s garden sheds. When the Hoopers moved to Brooksby in May 2008, their patch awaited them. The season was right and Barbara wasted no time replanting the many flowers she had brought from the couple s Wilmington, Mass., house, and meeting her fellow gardeners. When we first came here, these were the people I got to know because it was summer, Barbara says.

Environmental action

Today, the Hoopers garden is a bouquet of irises, sweet William, Russian sage, moonshine yarrow, bleeding heart, autumn joy sedum, gaillardia, silver mound, lady s mantle, hydrangea, and lavender, with a corner dedicated to Bill s thriving tomato plant. The Hoopers have become fixtures in the community, in large part for their involvement in groups that celebrate Brooksby s outdoor environment. Barbara is president of the Brooksby Village Garden Club while Bill leads the Over the Hill Walking Group. Brooksby s garden club has grown to more than 70 members, including people without garden patches but with interest in gardening topics. The club s monthly meetings feature presentations and hands-on activities, including sessions on making your own terrarium and Christmas boxwood trees. Guest speakers have led far-ranging discussions, from landscaping at Brooksby to marine life in Indonesia. The club takes a hiatus during July and August, but it has already begun planning next year s meetings with Barbara at the helm. The summer months are typically prime time for the Over the Hill Walking Group, which gets its name from the walkers route, uphill and around the perimeter of the neighboring Brooksby Farm. The group meets on Wednesdays, weather permitting, to traverse the 2.3 mile route and enjoy its seasonal charms. In addition to the squirrels and various birds, Bill says the group sees deer in the fall and, in the spring, views the orchard s apple blossoms. But, he adds, Summer s the best time. Then we can observe the growing crops that have been planted and wonder when they will be ready for picking.

Time for change

Despite their appreciation for the outdoors, the Hoopers say the New England elements contributed to their readiness to move to Brooksby. The couple had visited Brooksby and joined its priority list, reserving a spot for when they were ready to move, but a snowstorm-laden winter and the onerous task of clearing their 50-foot driveway were enough for the Hoopers to decide it was time. The couple was active and involved in Wilmington, their community of 52 years, and they brought their energy and involvement to Brooksby. In addition to the garden club, Barbara is a member of the Resident Advisory Council. She also works with Brooksby staff to represent those who live in the community and provide encouragement for initiatives like a new recycling program. Bill is an active member of the Brooksby Amateur Radio Group, which boasts its own station, W1BBV. The Hoopers remain members of the Ipswich River Watershed Association and the Massachusetts Audubon Society, and Bill recently began volunteering in a Peabody troop of the Boy Scouts of America, an organization with which he has been involved for many years. Though they lead busy schedules, the Hoopers make time to tend to their blooming garden patch, which yields more than just visual delights. That one tomato plant is really enough in fact, there are occasions when we distribute some to our neighbors, Bill adds.