There’s nothing like a mimosa on a Monday morning, especially if you’re toasting the success of the America In Bloom (AIB) program–a national campaign that is enhancing communities from coast to coast by promoting public plantings. AIB is an independent nonprofit organization hosted and managed by OFA in Columbus with a volunteer board of directors and volunteer judges who visit, evaluate and mentor cities in the national AIB competition.
To commemorate the 10-year milestone, the AIB board of directors hosted an appreciation breakfast to thank sponsors and individuals for their support. While AIB President Marvin Miller provided a comprehensive update of all AIB has achieved and is doing today, Bobby Barnitz of Bob’s Market & Greenhouses shared his experiences beautifying towns and getting them involved in AIB.
“As a business in the industry, we feel it’s our duty to promote the industry and what better way is there than beautifying towns?” Barnitz asks. “We had been donating plant material for city entrances and parks along with hanging baskets, which we maintain in the summer.”
One testimonial is the city of Galipolis, OH, which has participated in AIB for at least six years. “We’ve seen tremendous results at our garden center there,” Barnitz says. “The first year, business increased 8 percent. The biggest increase was from other businesses in the community wanting to beautify. As growers and garden center owners, it’s up to us to convince our communities to be involved.”
AIB Board Member and judge Katy Moss Warner, who is also president emeritus of the American Horticultural Society and directed horticulture at Disney, said the top reason people returned to Walt Disney World was the landscaping. She is cochairing AIB’s awards symposium in the Washington, D.C., area Oct. 6-8 and shared the highlights.
As one of AIB’s biggest supporters, Anna Ball, CEO of Ball Horticulture Co., made the closing remarks. She says the future will be plants for a purpose versus just for aesthetics. “The next 100 years will be plants for a purpose–saving energy, reducing crime, cleaning the environment, for food and medicine,” she says. “The best place to do this is communities, where functions can be displayed and demonstrated, not just people’s homes. In the future, it’s extremely exciting to me as a way to get young people interested in our industry, not just your grandmother’s petunias.”
She would like to see AIB grow to be 100 times bigger. “How can we do this? We can all dig a little deeper. How can I increase my giving? We can each get at least one other person during the show to contribute. And you can add AIB to every business trip you make. We’re on the threshold of a new era. How can we make our industry a whole lot bigger and get young people involved?”
For more information on how you can support and participate in America In Bloom, visit AmericaInBloom.org.