Bonavista setting the example on beautification
The Bonavista Horticultural Society (BHORTS) is going strong!
Who would have thought four years after the group’s creation we would have planted over 100 trees in our community, designed and planted all town flower beds each spring, spread wildflowers along Bonavista’s highways and ditches and have implemented and continue to maintain a sizable public garden in the town.
We are indeed fortunate as well to have access to a large greenhouse at the College of the North Atlantic campus for our use.
Through a strong membership of approximately 15 volunteers, our little society has ‘ blossomed’ into a successful community guide for gardening and environmental awareness.
Our organization offers landscape assistance in design principles, species selection and micro-climate assessment throughout Bonavista and the surrounding area when requested by residential and commercial property owners. For these services we simply ask for a small donation toward our treasury.
In the year 2012, I find it hard to imagine not more of these environmental and social groups exist in our province. What community wouldn’t benefit from some form of horticultural society, club, or group?
Yet, in our province fewer than five botanically-focused groups are active.
The population of a village, town or city influences the kind of activity in which a horticultural group is involved. In cities and large towns for example, these groups will likely be a more social organization, with public education and member benefits a priority.
Due to large urban budgets, parks, gardens and tree-lined streets can be maintained by a fleet of city workers. In smaller areas, in other words, the majority of Newfoundland and Labrador municipalities, volunteers have a major role to play in town beautification and environmental awareness.
To foster a group such as ours in rural Newfoundland, partnerships are key. Throughout Bonavista we have found partners and financial supports.
In our first year the Town of Bonavista partnered with our group to design and plant all town flower displays, with the town supplying the plant material. By year four, our town hall has provided us with two workers for landscape maintenance for 11 sites within the town and a budget for all plant material.
The Bonavista Historic Townscape Foundation also began working with us soon after our inception, partnering on the design and installation of a formal public garden that is now in the process of maturing. This summer the foundation will install an arbour for vines, adding greater structure to the garden.
Our most recent partner is the College of the North Atlantic, along with the Bonavista Institute for Cultural Tourism, which has provided us free usage of its commercial-sized greenhouse. Our members can now use sections of this facility to grow any crops they like, as well as ornamentals for the public garden and our annual plant sale.
And last, but certainly not least, since our inception we have received funds from Scotiabank through the involvement of retired bank workers in our society.
With these supports, fundraising has never become onerous. Thus far, our one and only major fundraiser each season is our plant and bake sale. Proceeds from the sale generally provide us enough funds to buy 15-30 trees each year and plant bulbs at the public garden in the fall.
Community support for this event has been overwhelming since the beginning and we tend to sell hundreds of our locally-grown perennials, annuals and trees.
This week my message is great benefits can be reaped in a community where a few horticulturists get together and volunteer some time. Any town could foster, and use a group such as ours.
The size of your community will simply dictate what your goals will be.
So get out there gardeners and see if your community can be helped by your talents!