How sweet it was to be in Hershey, Pa., last week celebrating the communities participating in this year’s America In Bloom competition.
America In Bloom (AIB) is a national campaign and contest that promotes enhancing communities through beautification. In the friendly competition, communities are matched by population and evaluated on their efforts related to floral displays, urban forestry, landscaped areas, turf and groundcover, tidiness, environmental awareness, heritage conservation and community involvement. Judges visited the communities this spring and summer.
Twenty-five communities from all regions of the country participated in the eighth edition of America In Bloom. AIB has engaged more than 170 cities in 37 states to date. AIB’s 2009 population category winners are:
- 4,000 or less - Echo, Oregon
- 4,001-10,000 - Charles City, Iowa
- 10,001-20,000 - River Falls, Wisc.
- 20,001-50,000 - Collierville, Tenn.
- 50,001-100,000 - Lompoc Valley, Calif.
- 100,001 or more - Milwaukee, Wisc.
Eight special awards were presented to communities considered the “best of the best” in the eight AIB criteria. These include:
- Ball Horticultural Co. Floral Displays Award - Greendale, Ind.
- Meister Media Worldwide Heritage Preservation Award - Rising Sun, Ind.
- Proven Winners Landscaped Areas Award - Collierville, Tenn.
- American Horticultural Society Community Involvement Award - Aurora, Ind.
- Gardens Alive! Environmental Awareness Award - Fayetteville, Ark.
- J Frank Schmidt & Son Co. Urban Forestry Award - Milwaukee, Wisc.
- Turf & Groundcover Areas Award - Michigan City, Ind.
- Tidiness Award - Arroyo Grande, Calif.
Plans are underway for the 2010 edition of AIB. Now is the time for our industry to reach out to communities and get them involved. AIB is funded by voluntary contributions and city registration fees. What if we could double the number of towns next year? AIB is both grassroots and national. Those who participate locally sell more plants. Let’s continue to elevate our industry as a revitalization solution for towns nationwide.