Returning shaded beauty to Homewood

By BROOKE BOUCEK

Jeff Fowler stands next to one of his Princeton elm trees. Photo by Brooke Boucek.

Jeff Fowler is not a gardener, but he is planting trees all over Homewood.
As an architect at Evan and Terry Associates, the Edgewood resident appreciates the aesthetics of design and likes the results in appearance.

“The ideal neighborhood image is what Homewood used to be,” Fowler said. “A place where everyone is sitting out on their front porch and the sidewalks are shaded by canopied trees.”

A 15-year Homewood resident, the father of three said he wishes his kids could play on the shaded sidewalks. Neighbors told him that the streets of Homewood used to be covered with shaded trees, but they were all noticing  a change.

Due to Dutch Elm Disease, storms and older trees were disappearing from Homewood. The city has recently enacted a tree ordinance to emphasize this importance of maintaining an urban forest, but Fowler had already taken action.
In an attempt to receive tree grants, he turned to his local community. Neighbors began to get excited about his project and the word spread.

After researching, Fowler decided to plant Princeton elms throughout the area. These trees are sustainable in urban environments and their low root system allows for sidewalks to stay intact. The Princeton elm trees are also Dutch Elm Disease-resistant, are fast growers and do not produce acorns.

“I thought they would be an interesting and different choice,” said Fowler. “They have a sort of vase shape with an arched type tree canopy that forms an alley.”

Jeff Fowler has already planted 29 Princeton elm trees throughout Homewood. Sharp Top in White, Ga., supplied him with the Princeton elms at just $30 a tree.
“I was shocked at the amount of positive feedback I got,” Fowler said. “All but one neighbor contributed, and I was able to get a church and apartment complex involved.”

Jeff Fowler encourages others to get involved in the project. When trees die, it is our job to replant them, he said.

“If people get involved, maybe we can bring back that Mayberry kind of feel,” Fowler said. “The kind of place Homewood is supposed to be.”

For more information on how to get involved, email Jeff Fowler at jscottfowler64@gmail.com.

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