Expect to see more flower power in Milwaukee, Wisc., and Springfield, Ill., this year because they are the two larger cities participating in the America In Bloom (AIB) community revitalization program.
For eight years, AIB has been making an impact at the grassroots level by connecting people to plants through education and participation. More than 170 communities from 37 states have participated in the annual beautification contest. Communities are grouped by population and will be visited by judges this spring and summer.
The fact that AIB spans eight judging criteria cultivates residents who are not only interested in plants, trees and landscaping, but also heritage preservation, environmental awareness, tidiness, economic development and community spirit.
Many in the greenhouse floriculture industry have been active in getting their cities involved. Examples this year include garden retailer Dave Williams in Westfield, N.J., and flower breeder David Lemon in Lompoc, Calif. Bob’s Market & Greenhouses in Mason, W.Va., also has successfully engaged Gallipolis, Ohio, and Point Pleasant, W.Va., multiple years.
About half the 2009 participants are new to AIB with the rest participating multiple years. New this year is an option for cities to begin the program without competing in the contest. Three towns are taking advantage of that this year to gain experience with plans to compete next year.
Even a single year of participation can have a lasting impact on a town. The number of hanging baskets, beds and planters continue to grow. The communities receive grants for more revitalization projects based on recommendations made in their AIB evaluations. Time and time again, AIB has been a cost effective way to bring people who care about a community together and sow the seeds of revitalization. Visible results are contagious.
Their efforts will be celebrated during the America In Bloom Symposium and Awards Program, Oct. 1-3, in Hershey, Pa. Mark this on your calendar as a great opportunity to learn more about AIB and get cities in your market involved.