My town, Northfield, Minn., has decided to enter the America in Bloom contest this year. This morning, I attended a presentation on the program sponsored by the Northfield Downtown Development Council. Other Minnesota cities involved in AIB are Bemidji, Buffalo, St. Paul, and Red Wing, which will not be able to enter this year’s competition because it won the overall award last year.
The Northfield Garden Club is spearheading the project locally, and club President Judy Code (in pink, next to the cow) and America in Bloom planning chair Pat Allen (left) made the presentation. Also in attendance was former garden club President Jerry Nord (right) and the as-yet-unnamed cow that will be a mascot for downtown Northfield this year.
The goal of America in Bloom is to promote beautification and community pride through gardening. The group has a half-dozen projects it would like to undertake this year to make Northfield even more charming and welcoming. These include business floral displays (downtown and on Hwy. 3!), flower boxes on the pedestrian bridge downtown, cleaning and painting the rails along the river from Second to Fourth Street downtown, plantings in the same area, a window box competition in residential districts, and cleaning up and fixing up the unused railroad depot on the west side of Hwy. 3 downtown. One of their great ideas is to encourage container gardens on the balconies along the river. As Judy says, “Our goal is to tie things together so the town feels cohesive.” The group will be involving as many organizations and individuals as possible and has gotten a positive response from neighborhoods interested in becoming garden districts, the police department and Mayor’s Youth Council, and businesses. The group has received financial backing from a police department grant, the Northfield Area Foundation, as well as in-kind help from Knecht’s Nursery and Landscaping and Switzer’s Nursery and Landscaping.
The AIB competition is described as a friendly competition and one of the benefits is the comments and advice communities get from the AIB judges, who are usually retired experts in horticulture, forestry and urban planning. The judges will be visiting Northfield July 28-29.
This is a wonderful community building activity. Anyone who is interested in helping out should e-mail the group at firstname.lastname@example.org.