Coming Together

Coming Together

Frank Lloyd Wright said, “I know the price of success: dedication, hard work and an unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen.”

Changing a town’s quality of life doesn’t happen overnight. Making the commitment to improve quality of life marks the beginning of major improvements that may take years to complete. The America In Bloom (AIB) program, supported by our industry, offers a framework and a way to jumpstart those improvements, so projects that might have ordinarily been done “sometime” can be completed in time for the judges’ arrival.

Why do some towns keep coming back, year after year? Some recognize the importance and synergy of expanded volunteer efforts. Others are excited by the progress made possible via business involvement. 

Educating The Community

Buffalo, Minn., returned for its third time and a win this year. As Laureen Bodin, assistant administrator for the city puts it, “Our community has wrapped its arms around the AIB program. Often, local organizations take on a task to improve community, but the AIB program, with its many facets, seems to draw in citizens in ways we haven’t seen before. Donations are coming in from individuals, and did last year, as well. Businesses are taking part by sprucing up storefronts, and the city continues to expand its beautification efforts further into areas it hadn’t reached before. It would be a missed opportunity for us to not promote the pride that continues to develop.”

Georgette Garner of Eureka Springs, Ark., says it took three years for Eureka Springs to accomplish its first place win. Earlier, it received the Heritage Criteria award in 2005 and 2006. The entire town center, with nearly 900 structures, is on the National Register Of Historic Places. A historic district commission monitors its preservation.

Garner, the AIB co-chair said, “Taking pride in your community can become infectious once there is involvement. Eureka Springs believes the AIB competition provides an opportunity for greater community involvement and a focus on a deadline for completion of projects. Hosting the AIB Symposium in 2006 was also an exciting event for the small city.”

Taking a leadership position is important to towns who know they “got it right.” For example, 2005 winner Loveland, Ohio, continued on to international competition in 2006 and won a special youth involvement award for its many programs that engage children. This accomplishment was achieved mainly via volunteer efforts.

Former Loveland mayor and head of the beautification committee, Donna Lajcak, says that for Loveland, AIB has become a “gathering of friends blooming together.” She adds, “Our city is the leader and model for the Cincinnati Metro region. People come here to see what this small town is doing with beautification. We have become the standard for the region.” 

The Best Of The Best

Just as America In Bloom’s goal is to make America a better place to live, one community at a time, some towns see America In Bloom as a way to work on one criteria at a time. Each year, rather than attempting to win their population categories, they focus on winning one of the criteria awards, aiming to be the “best of the best.”

Logan, Ohio, is one such community. AIB chair and local grower Rick Webb of Webb Perennials says his committee surveyed the town’s strengths and weaknesses and realized their greatest strength came from the hundreds of dedicated volunteers who annually donate thousands of hours to their neighbors. By focusing on this strength, Logan won the community involvement criteria award in 2005 and 2006.

“We know how to do community involvement and that will never change or stop. Now we’re setting our sights on earning the environmental criteria award,” says Webb.

A determined and charismatic natural leader, Webb is working with several local groups, including the Hocking County Soil and Water Department, to develop a statistical analysis on Logan’s extensive environmental programs. Each year, he and his committee develop a plan of action for AIB initiatives, solicit community input and then present the plan to the city council for approval and support.

The city also appreciates receiving the judges’ comments, because the comments give them goals to aim for. As far as a strategy for staying involved, Webb admits it’s easy to burn out volunteers, so they pick and choose their projects. He’s excited that ODOT (Ohio Department of Transportation) has donated $10,000 to Logan’s efforts to plant trees and three acres of wildflowers at the entrance to the highway.

“Since starting our involvement in AIB, we’ve seen a huge change in downtown Logan’s appearance,” says Webb. “You wouldn’t believe the number of people who comment on how beautiful it looks. When we were first doing things, people wondered what it does for jobs. Now I can tell people this is the kind of thing that makes a difference between a company coming to town or not. We’re becoming a destination because of the beauty of the planters downtown. Stores are starting to come back–it’s an exciting thing.” 

A Common Cause

Oberlin, Ohio’s, AIB chair, Sharon Pearson, says, “Oberlin has continued to participate because many residents and our local newspaper noticed the improvements being made. Each year, there seem to be more and more flowers. Also, in my opinion, AIB is the one program that has successfully brought together government, residents and businesses toward a positive common cause, which has improved the quality of life for all who work, live and play in Oberlin.”

It took Oberlin four years to win the top award, and in 2007, the city has entered international competition. “I feel other programs are biased or only represent a small portion of the community,” Pearson adds. “A generous donation from our local flower company to the low-income families enabled all of our residents to have an opportunity to get involved with AIB. The AIB competition has been able to cross economic and racial lines in our community.”  

The persistence of all the members of our AIB family, and their efforts in reaching out to other towns and cities, are what make visible improvements in towns across America. 

Get Your Community Involved!

There’s no better way to grow your local market than to plant the spirit of AIB in your town. The deadline to register for the 2008 competition is Feb. 28, 2008. For more information, visit www.americainbloom.org.

Leave a Reply

More From Grow Initiative...

February 2, 2016

19 Strategies To Strengthen The Horticulture Industry

In Greenhouse Grower’s annual State Of The Industry Survey, we asked how your operation is living the GROW initiative’s five pillars: cultivate new customers, demand quality, drive consumer success, invest in the industry, and sharpen business management. Here is what you had to say.

Read More
John Daley Featured

January 25, 2016

How To Retain Motivated Young Growers At Your Greenhouse Operation

Wholesale grower John R. Daley says engaging young growers and making them a viable part of your operation is the best way to ensure you keep young talent for the long term.

Read More
Janeen Wright

January 18, 2016

Five Thought-Provoking Ideas From GROW Summit 2015

Here are five ideas from Greenhouse Grower’s 2015 GROW Summit ranging from big-picture ideas to smaller initiatives that can help move the industry forward.

Read More
Latest Stories

February 2, 2016

19 Strategies To Strengthen The Horticulture Industry

In Greenhouse Grower’s annual State Of The Industry Survey, we asked how your operation is living the GROW initiative’s five pillars: cultivate new customers, demand quality, drive consumer success, invest in the industry, and sharpen business management. Here is what you had to say.

Read More
John Daley Featured

January 25, 2016

How To Retain Motivated Young Growers At Your Greenhous…

Wholesale grower John R. Daley says engaging young growers and making them a viable part of your operation is the best way to ensure you keep young talent for the long term.

Read More
Janeen Wright

January 18, 2016

Five Thought-Provoking Ideas From GROW Summit 2015

Here are five ideas from Greenhouse Grower’s 2015 GROW Summit ranging from big-picture ideas to smaller initiatives that can help move the industry forward.

Read More
SAF CAD

January 18, 2016

Sign Up Now To Attend SAF Congressional Action Days In …

Congressional Action Days is a great chance for Society of American Florists members to meet their state’s lawmakers and discuss the most critical issues they are facing.

Read More
Dr Allan Armitage

January 15, 2016

Allan Armitage: Why The Deck Has Becomes The New Hot Sp…

Armitage says decks and small spaces allow younger generations to enjoy all the benefits of a garden without the work.

Read More
Laura Drotleff

January 6, 2016

Most Popular New Year’s Resolution For 2016 Favor…

It’s splashed all over social media: 2016 is going to be a great year! And what’s fueling that sentiment? It’s an overwhelming need for Americans to enjoy life more. In fact, we’re so passionate about this that it’s the most popular New Year’s Resolution for 2016, followed by living a healthier lifestyle. Here are the top 6 resolutions for 2016, as reported by Time.com, according to a Google Consumer Survey by GoBankingRates. Enjoy life to the fullest Live a healthier lifestyle Lose weight Save more, spend less Spend more time with family and friends Pay down debt Among different age groups, Millennials (18 to 34) are setting more resolutions than any other group, and they’re the most concerned with spending more time with loved ones, and the most concerned with spending less and saving money. Younger Gen Xers (35 to 44) are focused more on living healthier in 2016, while […]

Read More
2015 GROW Summit_discussion shot

January 5, 2016

GROW Summit 2015 Explores Attracting The Next Generati…

Sustainable business practices and recruiting young growers were just two of the issues growers and suppliers brainstormed on at GROW Summit 2015.

Read More
Garrett Owen Feature Image

January 1, 2016

Richard T. Meister Scholarship Winner Eager To Give Bac…

Garrett Owen, recipient of the Richard T. Meister Scholarship, says his career goal is to become a floriculture Extension specialist.

Read More
Bee On Flower

December 29, 2015

Scotts Miracle-Gro To Fund 50 Pollinator Gardens In 201…

In an effort to help combat the loss of pollinator habitats in recent years, the Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. announced plans in mid-December for a year-long effort to improve consumer education about pollinators and promote the creation of backyard and urban habitats where they can thrive. The “Pollinator Promise” will fund the establishment of at least 50 pollinator gardens throughout the U.S. in 2016, as part of the company’s GRO1000 community gardening initiative. The GRO1000 initiative, now in its sixth year, partners with the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the Pollinator Stewardship Council, The Franklin Park Conservatory, and others, to promote the availability of additional grants for gardens and green spaces throughout the country. “The importance of pollinators is unquestionable and it is easier than most people think to create a habitat where they can thrive,” says Jim King, Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Scotts Miracle-Gro. “The Pollinator Promise is […]

Read More
Joseph Shinoda feature

December 20, 2015

Chance To Apply For Shinoda Foundation Scholarships Com…

The Shinoda Foundation, named in honor of California floral industry pioneer Joseph Shinoda, will begin accepting applications for its 2016-2017 scholarships in mid January.

Read More
David Clark, Marvin Miller, market research manager for Ball Horticultural Company, Anna Ball, Kendall Stacey, and Sandra Wilson, chair of the UFIFAS Department of Environmental Horticulture

December 14, 2015

University Of Florida Horticulture Professor Attracts N…

University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Professor David Clark recently donated his 40,000th plant to an undergraduate psychology student.

Read More
Pollinator-Conference-NC State

December 9, 2015

Pollinator Gardens Are On The Rise, Provide Opportuniti…

Thanks to the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge, enacted in June 2015 by the National Pollinator Garden Network, scores of new pollinator gardens to be planted over the next year and beyond will provide growers with ample opportunities to produce, promote and sell plants that are ideal for pollinator forage and health. And with research underway within the industry, we’ll soon have more knowledge about which plants are the most beneficial and attractive to pollinators. At Bayer’s Bee Care Center, the level of consumer engagement and interest in planting pollinator gardens is very high, Bayer’s Sarah Myers says. Bayer now has 73 local and industry partners and counting in its “Feed A Bee Campaign,” launched in March. Educating consumers about what they can plant to attract bees, and the impact they can have with even the smallest amount of space, is highly important, Myers says. It’s worth explaining to them that […]

Read More
foodscaping at epcot - Foodscaping Goes Big At Disney

December 9, 2015

Foodscaping Challenges Conventional Ideas About Landsca…

Conventional ideas about what a landscape should look like are being challenged left and right, from young homeowners like Sarah Baker of Baker’s Acres, who are standing up for their right not to mow their lawns, to Brie Arthur’s passion to start a movement to incorporate food with flowers throughout suburban and urban landscapes nationwide. As younger generations step up as consumers and industry leaders, these changes are likely to continue, and the horticulture industry, which has the most to gain, would be remiss not to embrace and influence them. Well known for her personal foodscape, which she has promoted across social media, and her annual tomato-tasting fundraising event benefiting the nearby J.C. Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, N.C., Brie Arthur has also been working with schools and her local Homeowner Association (HOA) to challenge the traditional idea of the landscape to one that incorporates the growing of food with mainstream, […]

Read More
Brie Arthur

December 9, 2015

Foodscapes: A New Direction For Landscaping And The Ind…

Professionally designed and maintained foodscapes are my hope for the future of American landscapes. As the global population rises locally, cultivated food systems will be developed to help reduce the food miles crisis. The sun, soil and irrigation systems of common landscaped spaces such as suburban developments, corporate campuses, retirement homes and public schools can be harnessed to produce supplemental, affordable food for communities. Foodscapes Unite Beauty With Practicality I began my first foodscape 10 years ago when I purchased a home in the suburbs of Raleigh, N.C. Money was tight, and I couldn’t afford the lumber to build raised beds and fill them with yards of purchased compost. Determined to grow food, I used the foundation landscape that already existed to cultivate seasonal, edible plants. What I discovered was a harmonious marriage of aesthetic and practical qualities. I was hooked on growing food within finely designed spaces. Now, a […]

Read More
Giving Tuesday

November 24, 2015

Giving Tuesday On December 1 Is An Opportunity For The …

Organizations such as American Floral Endowment and others are encouraging industry members to participate in the generous spirit of the holiday season.

Read More
Random Acts Of Flowers

November 24, 2015

Random Acts Of Flowers Partners With FTD And Pro Flower…

The organization, which recycles and repurposes flowers with a volunteer team that delivers bouquets to health care facilities across the country, made its 100,000th delivery to a health care facility in Chicago.

Read More
Kate Santos Operations Director Dummen Orange

November 18, 2015

Kate Santos Presents New Opportunities For The Horticul…

Dr. Kate Santos is a scientist, an artist, an advocate, a traveler, a dreamer, a visionary and a go-getter. Well-known for her work managing Dümmen Orange as Operations Director, Santos has taken on a new role as co-founder of Luxflora, an organization for women in horticulture.

Read More
Bell Nursery reaches out by supporting projects that help children connect with plants

November 12, 2015

Bell Nursery Is An Advocate For Outreach In Its Communi…

In a heavily regulated society, growing relationships is just as important to our industry as growing beautiful flowers. In environmentally sensitive states like Maryland, outreach has become mandatory, says Bell Nursery’s Gary Mangum.

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]