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Rotary Happenings: Pine Manor Improvement Association hosts open house for gardens

June 20, 2018
Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

Sanibel-Captiva Rotarians were fortunate this past week to be invited to attend the Pine Manor Improvement Association's open house for its Community Gardens.

Pine Manor is a neighborhood located off Summerlin Road in Fort Myers that has had a troubled reputation. The association has taken on the task of making positive changes in the neighborhood and has sought help in establishing and funding projects to uplift the area with new development ideas and redevelopment projects. Our club, along with several others in the district, contributed funding for the gardens and to create an additional quarter-acre property across the street - called the Food Forest - for the planting of tropical fruit trees and other food-sourced plantings.

The garden's board of directors spoke a few words, thanking all district Rotarians, and allowed us to stroll about the garden to observe the amazing transformation of a small plot of land into a fertile planting area. The area holds 25 garden boxes and most of them are being continuously cared for by the residents of Pine Manor and Arlo Simonds, garden coordinator and perma-culturist. Plantings of a variety of vegetables, herbs and medicinal plants - some on an experimental basis - fill the boxes.

Article Photos

The Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club recently attended the open for the Pine Manor Improvement Association's Community Gardens in Fort Myers.

The property for the Food Forest has been cleared, and water and electricity have finally been established with the planting of the trees soon to follow. Many sapling trees are waiting in the gardens to be brought across the street for planting. This is just the beginning of a fruitful adventure for the residents of Pine Manor, not only will they be able to grow their own food, but they will be able to supplement their incomes by selling their bounty to others in the neighborhood and even at local farmer's markets.

As an added pleasure, Rotarians were treated to fruit and vegetable platters and other appetizers using vegetables from the gardens that were artfully prepared and arranged by a recent Pine Manor culinary trained caterer. The Pine Manor Community Center houses the successful culinary program and has provided a compact but well-organized kitchen for this purpose. The small dining room and classroom provide space to present residents with programs related to food, nutrition, good health and well-being.

The Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club's meeting was jam-packed with information on upcoming events, including preparations for the club's float for the Fourth of July parade, the installation of new club member islander Clark Rambo, and our invited guest speaker Chris Davison, director of operations at the Island Inn. Rambo's membership information will be included in an upcoming column by President Holli Martin that wraps up the club's year, which runs from July to June.

According to Davison:

"The Island Inn has been part of Sanibel's history for over 100 years, established in 1895 by the Matthews family as a boarding house with a few guest houses on property with meals provided for wealthy guests from the north, staying for months in season to enjoy the beach, fishing and shelling and camaraderie of friends from all over the country and with the addition of the barracks - guest room addition - became a full-fledged beach accommodation entity. Eventually this property was sold to long-time guests of the Matthews' family as shareholders in the property with intent to preserve the Island Inn property for generations to come. Certainly, updates and renovations have been made over the years, including the construction of a 12-unit concrete block building replacing the wooden barracks in 1961 called the Matthews Lodge. However, time took its toll over the last almost 50 years to the concrete building, along with building code changes, and expectations of accommodations for guests. There was a realization that renovations to the Matthews Lodge were not enough any longer. Shareholders of the property had to make a vital decision to replace the Matthews Lodge with a completely new accommodations building, along with renovations to other buildings on the property - a $16 million capital investment was secured. The decision was made; city permitting took some time to be granted - about a year and a half - and destruction of the old Matthews Lodge took place. The Island Inn's newest building was now in construction phase and, like birthing a baby, took nine months. The Island Inn's Matthews Lodge Luxury, with 12 Gulf-view luxury accommodations, opened on Jan. 10, 2018. The Island Inn now houses 42 hotel rooms and seven guest houses. Providing meals for Island Inn guests and open to the public - after 4 p.m. - is an appropriately called restaurant and bar called Traditions. As in the past, it serves as a gathering room for a relaxing high-quality meal or a fun evening of dancing."

For information about the Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club, visit or The club meets every Friday at 7 a.m. at the Dunes Golf and Tennis Club, at 949 Sand Castle Road, Sanibel; visitors are always welcome to attend.



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